From the glory days of soda pop culture to the periodic table: we take a look at the inspiration behind some of Marx Design’s projects

When Marx did a project for the “craft soda” company StrangeLove, the design studio’s “stand out” ethos was well-matched by the soda company’s own goals in the water industry: to “cut through the sugary sameness of the fizzy drink category.” The team jumped at this brief, which challenged them to engage with a “more analytical audience,” and create an appropriate aesthetic match for Strangelove’s playful and “irreverent copy.” The team put their heads together and concocted a unique design approach for the brand’s new line of soda drinks, which they named “premium abstraction.” This approach combines bold colour use with clean modernist graphics and a sophisticated neo-grotesk sans type. For inspiration, Marx looked to “soda pop culture’s glory days of the 1960s, 70s and 80s,” but it also looked as far back as “the origin of soda, with its roots as a small-batch brewed tonic made in apothecaries.” Its comprehensive research was interpreted through the lens of “premium abstraction” and a fizzy-fresh visual identity was born. Bright, fruity colours distinguish soda flavours and subtly add character to the sophistication of the overarching design system. A playful dot pattern also became a “key brand asset” for the project as it aptly evokes the irresistible effervescence of the fizzy drink.
The New Zealand-based graphic design studio, Marx Design, has been around for 12 years, Ryan Marx tells It’s Nice That. When Ryan founded the studio, the team was working out of a shed in Birkenhead, “at the time not a very cool place,” Ryan assures us. But as far as the team was concerned at this point, they could have been working out of a “tent.” What mattered was that the work they produced was good and they weren’t afraid of working long hours to achieve it. Their tenacity paid off and since these humble beginnings, the team has gone from strength to strength. Ryan cites two particular “milestone” moments in the coming together of the company: when accountant director, Janine Bickerton, and creative director, Tristan O’Shannessy joined the team. The contributions of designer Manuel Payan in the past few years have also been particularly noteworthy. But generally, when it comes to discussing the design studio, Ryan steers clear of emphasising the roles of individuals, particularly his own. He prefers to promote Marx Design as a team and a company, and it is this collaborative spirit and everyone getting “their hands dirty,” which is clearly the firepower behind Marx Design’s success.
Browsing through Marx Design’s portfolio, one is immediately struck by the diversity and creative range of the work. “That’s intentional,” Ryan explains, “we believe that one size doesn’t fit all.” Each brief is tackled with an individual, unique approach, informed by extensive concept research which is matched with a rigorous analysis of their competitors. This powerful combination allows Marx to break the mould, ensuring that its projects “stand out, rather than fit in.”

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