Even if you're not familiar with the London design agency A Practice for Everyday Life (APFEL) by name, you'll have likely come into contact with their work at some point. Launched 12 years ago by Kirsty Carter and Emma Thomas and working across the fields of brand identity, art direction, website and exhibition design, APFEL's client list includes a string of major art galleries and museums, magazines and architects.
Last month, after much hard work behind the scenes, APFEL announced their first foray into retail with the opening of their new online shop. Products range from exclusive prints and posters – such as the Egyptian Khayamiya screen prints – to playful products like postmodernism-inspired rubber bands.
‘[The shop] is something the whole studio has been wanting to make happen for a long time – right from the beginning in fact,’ says Carter. ‘Aside from the work we do for our clients, there are many ideas which don't have a place in our work for them – they are either more like artworks in their own right, or the development of an idea we have had whilst producing a project for someone else. A shop is a nice way for us to have our own creative outlet, not just the graphic design we do for other people.’
Ever the perfectionists, the studio have even designed their own special range of APFEL packaging for the new shop – a design medium in which they excel, having conceived the suitably slick branding and packaging for the launch of our very own WallpaperSTORE* last year.
‘We took an abstraction of the Wallpaper* asterisk as the starting point for the design, and created an identifiable and elegant pattern that extends the existing brand language for Wallpaper* in a subtle way,’ says Carter of the packaging system, which includes boxes, bags and sleeves for the store’s wide ranging product offering.
‘The scale of the pattern is the constant, remaining the same across all pieces in the range, from boxes to stationery,' she explains. 'The geometry of the pattern informed the primary shapes; hexagon, triangle and circle, which appear as die cut apertures to frame the pattern beneath. Combined with the printed packaging, this creates a layered effect that adds to the ritual of receiving and opening the package.'