A collaboration between the contemporary and the handmade

Cala identity

The identity for this Mexican interior design accessories company evokes a collaboration between the contemporary and the handmade.

Responses by Adriana Longoria, creative direction/design, Caracter

Background: Cala is dedicated to creating interior design accessories in collaboration with Mexican artisans. The designers of the company work closely with the artisans, using the traditional crafts and tools to create more contemporary and unique pieces. We helped Cala with developing a new name, brand, creative copy, custom type design, art direction and photography.

Reasoning: We wanted to highlight and reflect the Mexican background that is essential to this brand. The name Cala was inspired by Diego Rivera’s paintings of artisans that show cala lilies, and the product photography was inspired by this style of art and still life paintings. The type consists of raw, calligraphic strokes to evoke the handmade details behind the artisan's process, while maintaining a contemporary, contrasted look.

Challenges: Trying to find the balance between the product’s origin and the target audience. The pieces come from Mexican artisans, who create these crafts in their homes and villages, but the end result is targeted towards a high-end consumer. We needed to emphasize the high quality and craft, and present it in a way that appeals to this type of market without abandoning the richness of the product’s culture.

Favorite details: We got to integrate type design into this project. We think it makes it a more complete experience with a unique look and feel. The display type is used throughout the material, and as a result, it makes the brand more recognizable, especially when combined with the photography style.

Anything new: This was one of our first projects that involved so many aspects of the brand’s presentation; we designed a lookbook to showcase the collection of products and developed the art direction. This process taught us to think beyond graphics and more of the brand’s personality, story and communication.

Visual influences: The great Mexican masters of painting, like Diego Rivera, with his classic paintings of artisans with flowers, and Frida Kahlo, with her paintings, Me and My Doll and Memory, the Heart. The type was influenced by painter Rufino Tamayo’s graphic style and the photography’s color scheme was inspired by painter David Alfaro Siqueiro’s earthy palette. Parisian brand Jacquemus’s SS 17 campaign also influenced us.

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Cala Branding Featured on Design Week UK

Caracter brands Mexican interior design accessories company Cala

The studio, based in Monterrey, Mexico, has worked on naming, branding, copy, a custom typeface, art direction and photography for the brand, which works in collaboration with Mexican artisans to create interior design accessories.

By Emily Gosling June 14, 2018 10:44 am

Mexico-based studio Caracter has designed the branding for home accessories company Cala, which produces products such as vases, pots and ornaments.

Caracter chose the name Cala for the company, drawing inspiration from the paintings of artist Diego Rivera, which often featured Mexican artisans with calla lilies. ‘Kali’ also means ‘home’ in Nahuatl – the most spoken indigenous language in Mexico.

The consultancy has created a custom typeface for the project, Cala Display, which is used across the branding on touchpoints including the lookbook, social media and signage.

According to Caracter, the typeface design is “inspired by very raw strokes to evoke a natural, slightly native look with a modern touch”. It adds: “There is an obvious calligraphic trait to the design, which connects to the handmade origin behind the crafted pieces but the high-contrast speaks to a more fashionable audience.”

The stencil-like nature of the typeface enables it to be easily reproduced across store packaging materials such as boxes, as well as tags and signage. Certain segments from the typeface are extracted to create a pattern used across decorative materials, including gift wrap and shopping bags.

Cala’s strapline combines the phrases “made in Mexico” and “made by hand” to form “Hecho a mano mexicana”, which translates as “Crafted by Mexican hands.”

Across the art direction and product shoots, Caracter aimed to reference Mexican art by drawing inspiration from still-life paintings, incorporating materials such as wrinkled fabric, flowers and plants alongside the products in the compositions. These were then shot with what Caracter calls “dramatic lighting.”

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