• Business of Design: The branded and the beautiful – The Vancouver Sun

    odd-society1“Innovative and inviting design is a must for Vancouver’s craft breweries and boutique distilleries”

    It seems like a new craft brewery or distillery pops up in Vancouver every other day. And the thing is, they’re all great. Every single one of them.

    So how do you stand out?

    This article by Rebecca Keillor in the Vancouver Sun argues “Good design it seems — in bottles, labelling and tasting room interiors — is key to capturing craft drinkers.”

    We’re proud to have our work for Odd Society Spirits profiled alongside the great work from Postmark Brewing with design by Burnkit and Brassneck Brewing with interior design from Simcic Uhrich Architects and branding by Post Projects.

    Read an excerpt about Odd Society below….

    “Standing out has been key to the success of East Vancouver’s Odd Society Spirits, general manager Miriam Karp says. Odd Spirits makes small-batch, individually crafted vodka, gin, whisky and creme de cassis, and the design of their tasting room attracted a photo shoot with Wallpaper Magazine some days after the distillery’s opening in autumn of last year.

    “People walk in and they may not know anything about distilling or don’t really have a technical interest in distilling, but they’re always staring at this equipment,” Karp says. “They tell us that the space is warm but very beautiful. It’s not cold.”

    Achieving this look and the unique branding and bottling of their spirits, each one embraced like an individual personality and presented as such, took the help of branding and design company Cause + Affect, best known for their PechaKucha Night series.

    “There’s this kind of quirkiness that comes from the brand,” Cause+Affect creative director Steven Cox says. “So there’s a number of different oddities that you would find in the space from a stuffed pheasant or skulls on the wall or paintings — a bit of a collector’s shop where the owners could let their own personalities show through a little bit. It was trying not to be overly trendy or overly styled.”

    Cox has an architectural background, and his wife and business partner Jane Cox started out as an interior designer. They say Odd Society’s product has lived up to the look they helped give it.

    “To give you an example, the vodka is an incredibly unique product — it’s a vodka made from barley, which is almost unheard of,” Cox says. “Usually vodka is made from the cheapest stuff you can get your hands on corn or wheat or potato or whatever it is — and these guys have made this almost what’s called a single malt vodka, and so to support that we created a brand that was incredibly unique,” Cox says.

    Read the full article here

  • Watch each talk from PechaKucha Night Vol. 35

    We heard from many of you that PechaKucha Night Vol. 35 was a particularly special night. It wasn’t planned, but each speaker added a thread to a weave of intersecting ideas about social justice, connection through art, health and positivity and civic engagement.

    There were tears. There were laughs. There was thunderous applause, and we think that everyone left in search of ways to do more for our fellow humans.

    You can read a summary of the night by a presenter and editor of the Georgia Straight, Charlie Smith, but we’ve also made videos of each presentation available on our Vimeo page. Enjoy and share with friends.


    DJ Larkin – Lawyer and campaigner with Pivot Legal Society
    Watch Presentation

    John James – Art director of Noise Digital, designer and artist
    Watch Presentation

    Seth Klein – BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
    Watch Presentation

    Steve CurtisEntrepreneur, leader and innovator
    Watch Presentation

    Meharoona GhaniCommunity engagement and diversity specialist
    Watch Presentation

    Charlie Smith – Editor of the Georgia Straight
    Watch Presentation

    Wayne Maddison – biology professor at UBC, former director of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and expert on spiders
    Watch Presentation

    Colleen Maybin – director of education and community engagement at Vancouver Opera
    Watch Presentation

    Reilly Yeo – community engagement specialist at Open Media and the co-creator of Groundswell
    Watch Presentation

    Sean Karemaker – artist with a body of work encompassing diorama sculptures, comics, scroll and paintings
    Watch Presentation

    Mohamed Ehab – founder of Reel Causes and co-founder of Changemakers Vancouver as well as a pharmacist by day
    Watch Presentation

    Remember to sign up for the PechaKucha Night newsletter for the latest information about upcoming events and speakers!

  • Georgia Straight – Pecha Kucha Vancouver gets political, but also highlights health, comics, spiders, and friendship

    PK35_Overview_1-3Charlie Smith, editor of the Georgia Straight and speaker at PechaKucha Night Vol. 35 did a great and generous job of summarizing the event last night.

    Read the article

    If you were there, you’ll probably agree that it was a very special evening. As they all are – but there was a connection between the themes of each speaker’s talk that made each presentation feel like a part of a greater, more cohesive whole, no matter how diverse the ideas put forth were.

    We’ll be posting the videos online shortly. They never quite capture the magic of being there, but they’re always great to refer back to.

  • Viewpoint #20 – Careful, your culture is showing


    Last week I weighed in on the comments section of a video produced by Frank for LG2 as well as another video by Cossette produced a couple of weeks earlier. I won’t get too far into it, except to say that both videos are well executed and at times funny, but more importantly, quite mysogynistic, offensive and supportive of a certain kind of agency culture that I abhor.

    My strong reaction and the associated reactions of many to my reaction has given me pause and now garners some additional words.

    I mentioned the word culture earlier and I feel that this is the crux of the issue. As an owner of a company or organization, the questions you need to constantly ask yourself are: What kind of culture do we have? What kind of culture do we want to cultivate? What kind of culture do we want to communicate?

    Hopefully, you are able to cultivate the kind of culture that is contagious to those who want to work for you and those who want to work with you. Hopefully it is the kind of culture that empowers, educates, and inspires. Hopefully it is as open, welcoming, honest and respectful as it is creative, challenging and rigourous. 

    This is certainly the end goal of the branding process that we go through with our clients. To help them generate a culture that is aligned internally and respected externally.

    To give another example of culture building, I will reference a letter that was written to employees of AirBnB by its CEO Brian Chesky. It is titled, “Don’t f#ck up the culture” and it says:

    “We build culture by upholding our core values in everything we do. Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture. We also have the power, by breaking the values, to fuck up the culture. Each one of us has this opportunity, this burden.”

    So I ask again, what kind of core values support the culture that these videos were trying to cultivate and communicate? Humour, yes, but also competition, chauvinism, rudeness and vulgarity? And if so, is this what they want people to think of when they think of their company? When someone is applying for a job or when someone is looking for a creative partner?

    It’s easy to write both videos off as simply being funny, but after the smirk or giggle, there is a nagging negative aftertaste that is hard to shake. Let this remind you that your message can often tell people more about you than you originally intended.

    Make no mistake, these videos came from very successful agencies who work with the  largest brands in the world. Why then might this misstep have occurred? I think it’s that they work really hard to come up with unique ways to make people connect with brands where we, as brand specialists, spend our time helping make brands into something people want to connect with.

    There is a difference, and it all starts with culture.

    – Steven Cox


    LG2 –

    Cossette –

    AirBnB –

  • Watch each talk from PechaKucha Night Vol. 34 – part of Vancouver Design Week


    As part of the city’s inaugural Vancouver Design Week, we assembled a diverse roster of local designers to the PechaKucha Night stage to speak about their experiences, philosophies, inspirations, stories, victories and follies.

    It was a great night and we are happy to be able to share the presentations with you on our vimeo account.


    Ian Ross McDonald – Architect at Bruce Carscadden Architect
    Watch presentation

    Inge Roecker – Architect at ASIR
    Watch presentation

    James Brittain – Senior Equipment Designer at MEC
    Watch presentation

    Corrine Hunt – Artist, Designer
    Watch presentation

    Jeff Harrison – Founder + Creative Director at 123w
    Watch presentation

    Dr. Ron Burnett – President of Emily Carr University
    Watch presentation

    Becki Chan – Designer, Maker and Curator
    Watch presentation

    Nancy Bendtsen – Owner of Inform Interiors
    Watch presentation

    Isabelle Swiderski – Principal + Creative Director at Seven 25
    Watch presentation

    Ola Volo – Artist + Illustrator
    Watch presentation

    Afshin Mehin – Founder, WOKE
    Watch presentation

    Remember to sign up for the PechaKucha newsletter for the latest information about upcoming events and speakers!

  • Vancouver Sun – Talking and thinking design


    Mayor Gregor Robertson made it official last night, proclaiming September 15 – 28 as THE Vancouver Design Week at the Urban Design Awards. Congratulations to all winners and nominees.

    On the heels of that comes this article in the Vancouver Sun looking at the ideas and events behind Vancouver’s first design week.

    “Vancouver’s first Design Week encompasses architecture, interior design, graphic design, food and fashion

    Design affects us every minute of the day: From the way we feel about a room we’re in, a chair we’re sitting on, a park we’re walking through, or what we’re eating. This intensifies in urban environments, where everything we encounter has been deliberately sculpted in some way.

    To get Vancouverites thinking and talking about the importance of good design, a number of citywide design events begin on Monday, as part of Vancouver Design Week. The festival runs for two weeks (Sept. 15 to 28) opening with the City of Vancouver’s inaugural Urban Design Awards — awarded to 10 projects demonstrating excellence in architecture and urban design — and ends with the 10th annual Interior Design Show West (IDS West), which showcases local and international interior design talent, over four days, at the Vancouver Convention Centre.”

    – Rebecca Keillor

    Check out a full list of events on the Vancouver Design Week website for more details.

    Read the full article on the Vancouver Sun  

  • Announcing the First Annual Vancouver Design Week

    “Design is one of the most powerful forces in our lives. It influences the outcome of almost everything we do, often without our being aware it has done so. . . yes despite its power, design is frequently treated as if it didn’t matter by being trivialized, misunderstood and undervalued…”

    – Alice Rawsthorn, Design Critic, New York Times

    Vancouver Design Week
    September 15 – 28, 2014

    Vancouver is home to a long list of world-class designers and innovators, and punches far above its weight in terms of creating ideas that have spread across the world.

    An outsider looking into our city would probably assume that we had a bright, vibrant and celebrated design community. Yet many of our great designers are unknown, undervalued and disconnected. 

    Vancouver Design Week was designed to redress this. It’s a city-wide festival to celebrate established and emergent design talent; to spotlight design innovation in all its forms; to cross-pollenate and empower designers across disciplines.

    Programming will be broad and include talks, tours, awards, workshops, open houses, exhibits, parties and pop ups. Some events will be intimate affairs and some will be large scale celebrations.

    Our role in Vancouver Design Week 

    Our very own Jane Cox is a co-director of Vancouver Design Week, working closely with director Jennifer Cutbill, an intern architect at Dialog and Board Member of LoHA who has been leading the charge to create a special week to celebrate design in our city.

    As key partners of Vancouver Design Week, Cause+Affect designed its brand and communications assets including the website alongside the great people at Denim and Steel.

    PechaKucha Night Vol. 34 as part of Vancouver Design Week

    As part of Vancouver Design Week, we are holding a Special Edition PechaKucha Night on Sept 18th. Twelve local design thinkers of diverse backgrounds will share their stories and inspirations as we explore the many ways to consider ‘design’.

    PK34_Web_finalTickets for PechaKucha Night Vol. 34 will go on sale Thursday, August 21 at 10:00AM at the Vogue Theatre and Northern Tickets.

    Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Twitter to get the latest news, including the announcement of speakers and band.

  • INTRODUCING: Wallflower Gin from Odd Society Spirits

    Allow us to introduce the newest spirit from Odd Society Spirits: Wallflower Gin is now ready to imbibe and we are very proud to have provided its name, packaging design and copywriting.

    Like East Van Vodka and Odd Society’s Crème de Cassis, Wallflower Gin turned out to be one of the most interesting spirits of its kind and we can’t recommend it enough.

    About the name and design

    The name Wallflower comes from two concepts. The first is the gin’s floral nature given the botanicals selected by distillers Gordon Glanz and Joshua Beach, including its namesake the coastal wallflower.

    The second concept revolves around Wallflower as a character we imagined the gin to represent. A shy coastal beauty, Wallflower prefers intimate conversations over being the centre of attention. She quietly observes rather than brashly acts. Wallflower is wise, elegant and enigmatic. Think Athena at a dinner party.

    We expressed the Wallflower character through a shapely vessel with a rich and regal purple and silver label with floral embellishments to evoke the classic flourishes of Old World designs, but with a modern take ­to tell the story of Odd Society’s commitment to tradition in the face of its need to innovate.

    This complex story is told in full when you bring the gin to your lips.

    About Wallflower Gin

    You have not tasted gin like this before.

    Unlike most gins which are made by adding botanicals to neutral grain spirit, Wallflower is made from the grain up with a BC-grown barley spirit infused with botanicals from around the world and our own back yard through a combination of two gin-making methods – called maceration and vapour extraction, if you want to get technical.

    It’s a complicated process that took a lot of research and trial and error to develop, but one that is well worth it.

    “Because we make our gin from scratch, we have a greater understanding of each ingredient,” says distiller Joshua Beach. “Making this gin took a great amount of research, patience and care as we wanted to distinguish the delicate nuances of each floral component.” (From Scout Magazine)

    Early reviews of Wallflower Gin have been wildly positive, and we can attest that it is sensational, especially in a gin and tonic. According to its creators, Wallflower ‘starts with a floral nose, followed by a strong juniper body and ends with a slight spicy, peppery finish.’

    Get your bottle at Odd Society Spirits’ distillery and lounge as well as select liquor stores. Don’t forget to ask for it at your favourite bars and restaurants and be on the lookout for Odd Society at your local farmer’s market. 

    Read about the packaging design and copywriting for all of Odd Society Spirits




  • BRAND LAUNCH: Fresh Roots

    Fresh Roots brand

    Fresh Roots grows communities by growing food. They use urban agriculture to turn underused spaces into places where everyone can gather to enjoy the foods that unite us.

    You may have heard of their schoolyard market gardens, the first of their kind in Canada and a big reason why Fresh Roots received the Vancouver Award of Excellence in Greenest City Leadership this year out of over 130 other organizations.

    Developed with the Vancouver School Board, the schoolyard market gardens are commercially productive gardens on school grounds. The food they produce goes to the school cafeteria, local restaurants and the community through on-site markets and a veggie box program. The market gardens themselves also serve as outdoor, hands-on classrooms with professional development for teachers hosted by Fresh Roots.

    We were lucky enough to work with Fresh Roots to develop their brand strategy and visual identity to elevate their awareness and credibility to help them attract more partners so they can create more community market gardens.

    The Fresh Roots brand was built on three core concepts:

    People before plants

    The most important thing to understand about Fresh Roots is that growing community is the end goal. Food and gardens are just the best means to get there.

    Therefore, the brand had to lead with human life interacting with food. Photos of veggies popping up out of neatly planted rows may be beautiful, but they don’t tell the Fresh Roots story. Fresh Roots is hands in the dirt, people sharing food, cooking together, telling stories. It’s the relationship around the growing of food that counts, not the act of growing.


    Earthworms, bookworms and … boardroom worms

    Another thing that sets Fresh Roots apart is their incredible capability in many different fields. They’re not just great farmers, they’re community builders, educational programmers, facilitators, policy makers and social entrepreneurs.

    They’re making change at all levels and the brand had to communicate this broad competence as one package in its language and imagery.

    Joie de vivre

    The Fresh Roots brand also had to be fun. It had to be passionate. It had to represent the deep, deep joy that the Fresh Roots team brings to all it takes on. We wanted the colours to smile and laugh just like the people it stands for.

    Joy of Fresh Roots

    Fresh Roots is an incredible organization and we can’t say enough good things about their work. Now that they’re equipped with a brand that reflects their values and personality, they can tell their story to more people and bring more communities together through the the joys of growing food.

    See the project page for more images.


  • Watch each talk from PechaKucha Night Vol. 33


    Once again, we’ve uploaded each and every single talk from PechaKucha Night Vol. 33 to our Vimeo account for your enjoyment.

    It was a hot summer’s eve, but the Vogue Theatre was packed with hungry minds who feasted on ideas and concepts such as hacking as a mindset, experimentation and failure, the power of music to connect us, looking at earth from a different perspective, working out loud, urban agriculture, Canadian cuisine and the legacy of Shakespeare.

    Get to know the speakers

    Sam Chandola – Founder and CEO of Victory Square Games
    He has spearheaded the production of 30 ultra casual games for Microsoft and BlackBerry and earned his company a Top 10 Small Business BC award for Best Workplace.

    Watch Presentation

    Sandra Singh – Chief Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library
    Since joining the library in late 2010, Sandra has been leading VPL as it re-imagines its services and enhances the community’s access to information and learning opportunities.

    Watch Presentation

    Laura Barron – Director of Instruments of Change
    Instruments of Change is a Vancouver non-profit that teaches rock music to women in prison, leads dance workshops with seniors and facilitates writing and theatre projects with immigrants and youth.

    Watch Presentation

    Scott Larson – CEO and Co-Founder of Urthecast
    Urthecast operates two cameras onboard the International Space Station that streams imagery in realtime for uses ranging from humanitarian relief to resource monitoring.

    Watch Presentation

    Kevin Lee Royes – Soulcial-Preneur
    Also an inventor, Kevin has launched businesses and had customers such as Nike, Home Depot and the Museum of Modern Art and aired a historic episode on Dragons’ Den where he was called “…the best business ever…” on the show.

    Watch Presentation

    Lital Marom – Co-Founder and CEO of Beyond
    Beyond is Lital’s platform to use human-centred design to break the silos between those who make games and those that play them. The result is sandbox experiences to foster children’s creative confidence, moving beyond current stereotypes and limiting narratives.

    Watch Presentation

    Christopher Gaze – Actor and the Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach
    Bard on the Beach is one of the most successful not-for-profit arts organizations in North America, with attendance exceeding 91,000.

    Watch Presentation

    Emerson Lim – Founder of Karma Teachers
    Karma Teachers is a first of its kind, non-profit Yoga studio and movement that makes Yoga accessible to all, bringing local Yoga teachers together to offer free or by donation yoga classes.

    Watch Presentation

    Jonathan Anthony – Corporate Disorganizer at Teekay Corporation and blogs about personal branding, social business and the future of work at This Much We Know.

    Watch Presentation

    Seann Dory – Co-Director and Co-Founder of Sole Food Street Farms
    Sole Food Street Farms is a social enterprise that provides jobs and agricultural training for people in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

    Watch Presentation

    David Pay – Artistic Director of Music on Main
    The UK’s Gramophone Magazine writes that Music on Main “provides western Canada with one of the finest windows onto the post-classical scene” and the Huffington Post says David’s programming has “spanned the range of human experience.”

    Watch Presentation

    Jimmy Stewart – Chef of Blacktail Florist
    Jimmy was raised in North Vancouver and has cooked at Lumière, at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze, the lauded 2 Michelin-starred Ledbury and the Bearfoot Bistro where he began to create his concept of Canadian Cuisine. He is now the Chef at Blacktail Florist.

    Watch Presentation