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Q&A With Our Design Team

The Cultured Cup Logo (Taking a Wabi Sabi Approach) An artistic "C" on topographic background

In late 2022, owners Kyle and Phil, decided they wanted to refresh and rebrand. Covid had drained people, brought additional stress, and disconnected many in their profession and personal lives. In response, Kyle was inspired to take a 'wabi-sabi' approach: to encourage people to refocus, invest in rituals and self-care, enjoy nature, cherish and appreciate the impermanence of life, and most importantly embrace life and imperfection. This 'year of wabi sabi' includes bringing in a new tea table and a reimagined front space of our physical store. We will be conducting tastings on this table that focus on connecting with people and guiding people to learn how to take a moment for yourself even amongst a busy setting.

With this new path in mind Kyle and Phil wanted to refresh the brand to include more organic lines and patterns to evoke this idea of wabi. To help bring their vision to life, they hired a local team of designers to update the logo, labels, color palette, fonts, design backgrounds, and more. We asked them a few questions about their experiences. 


1.What first inspired you when working on this project?

"Having known The Cultured Cup for almost 3 decades, I appreciate how it brings cultures from around the world through tea. The Cultured Cup fosters a community that is welcoming, knowledgeable, and genuine. Working on any project with The Cultured Cup is always a fulfilling creative experience."

"I appreciate the enthusiasm and respect for the culture that Kyle and Phil had. The effort to collaborate with local artists and designers really showed through the way they are always attentive to my inputs and perspectives."


2. Were you familiar with wabi sabi before working on this project?

"I am familiar with the concept of Wabi-sabi. The appreciation of the beauty of imperfection, impermanence, and the natural cycle of life is deeply rooted in the Asian cultures. Growing up in China, the spirit of Wabi-sabi has influenced my art and design practices."

"I have heard the term a couple of times before but wasn’t entirely understand the concept in-depth when I first started the project. However, the research process and Kyle’s knowledge were both great guidance for me to understand the concept better."

"Throughout the process, I also developed a personal connection to the wabi sabi concept as well. As I am transitioning between school and work, there are uncertainties that I came to appreciate and honor instead of letting fear taking over."

3. How did you incorporate principles of wabi sabi into your design?

"Since wabi sabi revolve around the idea of finding beauty in imperfections, a lot of organic shapes and lines were utilized in the making of the new brand image."

"The Logo is the letter C made up of brush–stroke–like shape emulating the organic nature of not only the wabi sabi concept, but also suggesting the quality of the products that Cultured Cup offers."

"The main pattern is a stylized wood-grain image, with a light teal color. This decision was made because we wanted to echo the centerpiece of the store, which is a ceremonial wood table right as the customer walks in."

4. How was the experience different working on this design than other work you've done?

 "Working on this project was the first time that I had a chance to collaborate with the production of my designs (i.e: printing out labels and tins design). There are real-life restrictions when it comes to producing a label that I was not aware of before. There are a lot of moving parts, from sourcing the materials, finding printers, approving printing proofs, etc, which ultimately helped me learn and grow as a designer."

5. What element of the design kit did you enjoy working on the most?

"In working on the The Cultured Cup’s rebranding campaign, what I most enjoyed was collaborating with Kyle, Phil, designers, and the whole team at the Cultured Cup."

"My focus was exploring concepts, investigating creative ideas that would be true to the brand, right down to the smallest  details. My aim was to help the Cultured Cup build an inspiring, cultured, and approachable brand image."

"The most fun product to work on was the design of the seasonal holiday gift set. Just the thought of working on something that represents love at the end of the year is immensely meaningful. In addition, the teamwork experience with everyone at Cultured Cup was extremely rewarding. I thoroughly enjoyed bouncing ideas off each other, enjoying sips of tea in our meetings, and even doing tedious tasks such as fine-tuning label printing templates. This is one of the very few projects where I enjoyed both the journey and the end products."





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