Behind the Project: Repair Rather Than Replace

In this series, we’ll look deeper into some of the projects on Behance.net that were especially admired in our community. Katie Tonkovitch is a San Francisco based designer. Her other projects include branding for San Francisco dive bar, The Makeout Room as well as timeline based packaging for those trekking through the Himalayas. We spoke with her about her recent project, Mend.

What was your inspiration for this project?
Most of my projects have an element of sustainability to them. The final form was both inspired and limited by existing within those parameters. I think the creative challenge of
balancing aesthetics and function, of striving for both beauty and reusability, was a lot of what made this project successful.

The limited materials I chose drove the design to a high degree. One of the first things I did was hunt down the reusable containers and recycled papers, and make the decision that I was only going to use black ink. Discovering what typefaces and design elements played nicely within those parameters was a large part of my inspiration. For instance, the choice to use colored thread to color-code the different kits was born out of the fact that I limited myself to a single color of ink.

Can you describe your process in creating this project?
The design brief was the primary challenge. This was a fairly open-ended student project, so I really wanted to have a fully fleshed-out concept before I even began sketching. I wanted to do something in the world of sustainability, and spent considerable time brainstorming about how buying a new collection of stuff could possibly be a sustainable act. It then occurred to me that if that stuff helped you mend what you already had, it would be preventing you from buying things you didn’t need. The driving concept became: Don’t buy more stuff; mend what you have.

Once my concept was solidified, I went on the hunt for materials. I find that the materials can dictate design, so I like to get my hands on the physical elements early on in the process. After that, it was just a matter of playing with typography and seeing how it worked on the printed labels. It was a dynamic process of building up to more typefaces, and then pulling back to less, then back again, trying to find the right amount of visual interest while maintaining a clean and simple aesthetic.

I was simultaneously sketching the logo, which ended up being one of the more challenging parts of this project. I found that it helped to alternate between sketching logos to the point of frustration, with switching gears to comparing versions of the labels themselves. That way, if I hit a creative block on one element of the project, I didn’t lose steam entirely.

Did you expect it to be as popular as it’s been on The Behance Network?
I think that, especially with solo projects, gaining some perspective on your work can be quite difficult. It’s like trying to paint a twenty-foot-wide mural with proper perspective, but never stepping back to see the full composition. So to that end, I really wasn’t sure what the reception would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised when it was so positive.


 

“Gaining some perspective on your work can be quite difficult. It’s like trying to paint a twenty-foot-wide mural with proper perspective, but never stepping back to see the full composition. So to that end, I really wasn’t sure what the reception would be like, but I was pleasantly surprised when it was so positive.”


Do you feel that this project is “done,” or is there anything you’d like to improve on or change in the future?
Two months after completion, I think I can safely say it is done. There are a couple of tiny tweaks that I am tempted to make on the logotype, but I think the nature of design work is that you can tweak it until the end of time, so I’m resisting the urge.

Did anything interesting happen as a result of the success of this project? (fans contacting you, job opportunities, blogs picking it up, etc).

My mom was super proud.

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