Launched this August, Baboon is a new line of high-performance luggage geared towards the adventure traveler looking for something with a little more flair than your average duffel bag. In their words, however, they are an “adventure brand” that makes “technical products for the slash generation”. (What the “slash generation” is.) Baboon’s new identity has been designed by New York, NY-based Sagmeister & Walsh.
Made for the slash generation, BABOON wanted an identity that was irreverent, flexible, and full of weird surprises. We created the name for the company, as well as the brand identity, illustrations, custom typeface design, social media direction, and copywriting. We also helped suggest product design choices such as color, and illustrated a set of unique BABOON branded patterns for the interiors of the luggage.
What does a baboon have to do with duffel bags? Don’t know. What does an Art Deco-ish font have to do with a baboon that has to do with duffel bags? Don’t know either. But I don’t think it matters. In general — for this project — knowing or not knowing doesn’t really matter and I think I mean that as a compliment. We’ll get to that eventually. Point being, you probably have to detach your general sense of logic and go with the flow. The core idea for this project is to be weird, irreverent, and a safe amount of provocative. The logo is weird and as a piece of typography there are questionable elements about it but perhaps it’s those questionable elements — in particular the overextended reach of the pointy ends of the “A” and “N” and the extra tight counterspaces — that make it interesting. I can’t wholeheartedly say I like it but I don’t dislike it either. The logo looks very convincing once it’s put on those bad-ass duffel bags. There is a mutual chunkiness to both logo and product that yields a very beneficial relationship. But things get a little weirder from there and our collective patience might get tested.
The inside of the bags launched with a set of patterns designed by Sagmeister & Walsh and will eventually feature other artist collaborations. The patterns are fun, quirky, and unexpected, creating a wild clash between the austere exterior and extroverted interior. It’s the mullet of duffel bags.
The custom font built around the logo has (what I think is) a purposefully clunky construction with slightly odd character shapes in some places with traits that become more exaggerated as the font increases in weight. Let’s say I wouldn’t buy it if it existed as a retail type family but, again, when it comes to this project, it works.
Another element of the identity is this kind of hand-drawn digital graffiti lettering that sits on top of the Art Deco font. The blurry edges of the lettering feel a little distracting but it’s a visually intriguing combination.
This is where many might throw their hands in the air. The identity heavily features a range of illustrations of humans wearing some kind mask and sitting/riding on top of an animal. If you have to ask why you are asking both the right and wrong question. As I originally said, it doesn’t matter. You are either on board or you are not.
In general, I’m willing to go along for the ride and although it’s clear that the approach is Anything Goes, I think far too many things went. This could have been reeled in a few notches and it would have still been able to maintain a similar level of energy and quirkiness. Aside from the collage illustrations, there are line illustrations, solid block color illustrations, arrows, type running around corners, and other things that add up to a whole lot of noise with a few moments of joy and a few of frustration.
Looking at the product photography — looking at the whole project in general, really — the one thing that is clear is that this product and brand is not for me. My walking-in-the-desert-in-sheer-or-shiny-tops days are behind me and this level of irreverence is far too much for my pragmatic, parent-of-two, five-in-the-morning-alarm personality so there is a side of me that doesn’t like this at all but I can also appreciate how this hits the target audience in the bullseye with an identity that is literally slash-this and slash-that, going into 27 different visual directions and concepts that create a strong sense of attraction for others other than me. Those bags tho.