Design Stories

Escaped Kiwi

Escaped Kiwi is a blog written by travel industry insiders (House of Travel Christchurch City) for us regular folks. The blog gives insights and tips for travellers that you might not hear about, unless you're on the inside.

Specific to New Zealanders travelling overseas, the blog concept inspired us to create the brand name  'Escaped Kiwi'. The idea behind this name is no one really wants to see a Kiwi confined. Freedom to travel the world is something all New Zealanders are inspired to do, from the OE to a family get-away. 'Escaped Kiwi' is an icon for that dream made real.

The character design was inspired by an earlier in-house icon design project we called 'official kiwi'. It was the addition of the backpack that nailed it for us. Love it when something just falls into place, and an earlier idea finally gets life.

Austin Texas Credit Unions

ATXCU is a sister website to ACCU, both of which we designed, along with their respective branding. ACCU acts for all the Credit Unions in Austin, Texas, while their public service website, ATXCU, serves as a education and communication platform for the wider Austin community.

ATXCU brand design


ATXCU brand design

Unexpected up side


Designed for the US-based 'Unexpected Project', a documentary series and conference in maternity health dealing with traumatic loss of life during pregnancy. The design is intended to illustrate in the face of great unexpected loss there is hope. The upside down heart shape is countered by the positive word up. The design intention is that the positive message of hope appears stronger than the sadness of an inverted heart.

This is one of those designs that unfolded in the mind before pencil or mouse was moved. However it was important to set out the development path to insure nothing was missed. Jumping into the final design without testing the idea might have left unanswered questions, even doubt the idea had been fully explored. Subtle design adjustments can make a big difference, even when some of those tweaks are discarded giving greater confidence the final design has been well tested.



The design project was sponsored by Lucina Maternity, a registered 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, based in California.


Designer: Simon Darby

Contain This

Remember the days of taking a sandwich to school, only to find it's a soggy mess at lunchtime? The fillings had socked into the bread to create a strange blend of textures and taste? Well engineer and designer Will Archie felt your pain and came up with the definitive solution to soggy sandwich syndrome. The Perfect Sandwich container separates the bread from the fillings, until you're ready to combine and eat. A unique removable freezer pack keeps everything fresh.

Darby was brought on board in the early product design phase, developing the product branding for Perfect Sandwich, and the company branding for Contain This! We also developed the website, targeted at wholesalers and technology licensees.

Darby Capital

Working with family is always rewarding. In this case we designed the brand for Zak and Tom Darby. Our brief was to simply capture the focus of their new business, growth capital investment.


Design lead: Kate Darby

Jack's Point


Jack's Point is a 1200 hectare (3000 acre) settlement in one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world - on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, just 15 minutes from Queenstown, New Zealand. The resort and golf course developers talk about 'tread lightly' in their design work, and we took that on board. With the website design for example, we wanted the brand to sit lightly amongst the landscape images

While Jack's Point has been 15 years in the planning, for us it was a startup, albeit a billion dollar one. We approached this from the perspective of our target market, seducing them with the raw and natural beauty of the place. The location is world renowned, and at the same time somewhat exclusive. In developing and delivering the brand story we were keenly aware of the opportunity to attract considerable sales interest, but also careful not to diminish the market positioning in the mid to high end property segments. Understanding our target market is the first task on any project.

As brand development designers, we devised and implemented a brand identity system across all aspects of Jack's Point, from the humble tactile business card to the responsive website serving multiple business and stakeholder interests.

The icon design in the logo is a direct reference to the angular rock face towering above Jack's Point, rock found deeply embedded in the surrounding landscape contour. It's a constant reminder that Jack's Point has been here for millions of years and we are simply caretakers.

The website we developed is also used to house and manage the brand identity and communications program. This allows us to be very market responsive with the brand, while maintaining synchronized continuity for all parties involved in marketing and communications. 


Bell & Co


Bell & Co. is a recently launched lunch delivery and catering service. They create food which has a strong emphasis on fresh, local produce that is nourishing and delicious. Charlotte, the founder, was looking to create a brand that supported this mantra and could help the business gain traction and grow. Charlotte saw a need for office workers to easily get a lunch that didn't break the bank or compromise on quality.

The process to develop the brand began by defining the unique value proposition and vision for the business. The name Bell & Co. was created to reflect the collaborative efforts that go into every aspect of the business. Despite the fact that Charlotte was a solo founder, she collaborates regularly with her suppliers, other chefs, designers (us), and craftspeople to keep growing Bell & Co. in new and interesting directions.

When developing a visual brand identity for Bell & Co. the context for how the logo would be used was carefully considered. The logo mark was created a tight unit that could work across a variety of surfaces and touch points. Rather than embark on the expensive process of having packaging printed, we created a stamp for Bell & Co. This was a low-cost, adaptable and effective way to brand the different varieties of packaging.

The website was developed in a two-stage process. The first stage was a landing page that enabled Bell & Co. to quickly get up and running with a professional face. As orders rapidly grew, the need for an online ordering system quickly became clear. The second stage was to create a site for Bell & Co. that could still tell the brand story, but also allow for customers to order and pay online (or choose in-person). The site also schedules Bell & Co.'s orders, making Charlotte's life a lot easier. A user-experience focus was taken, and user testing was done to make sure Bell & Co.'s customers could make an easy transition to the new site. 


Lucina Maternity


Lucina is a registered 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, based in California. It's primary purpose is to promote better maternity care using an integrated team including CNM's, physicians, and health educators. Lucina advocates that a woman should be empowered during her pregnancy to engage in informed decision-making regarding her care and delivery.

We became involved at the very start of this project where the underlying concepts of better maternity care were being formulated. It's a challenge for brand development at this early stage where the message is still evolving. This can be an advantage too. It gave us a simpler brief for an identity that communicated elements of trust and care with a focus on mother and baby. At the same time, as with many startups, we needed to communicate a professional organization that gave, in this instance, donors confidence in participating.

Lucina succeeded in its initial aim, establishing a significant fund, and forging key relationships with CNM's, physicians, and health educators in California, and supporting the opening of new clinics under the Lucina model.

Our ongoing work with Lucina is also in brand marketing communications. This involves online awareness campaigns around healthcare issues concerning women, midwives, CNM's and physicians. As always the brand underpins the messages.

We are also working with Lucina on the development of new hospital-based practices in California, with a view to more across the United States.

Soho Basin


Soho Basin is new, yet it's like the first days of popular skiing in the 1930's, when it was an adventure and a privilege to discover new runs.

Soho Basin is situated in two high alpine basins at the head of Soho Creek. Set amongst the Southern Alps of New Zealand it overlooks the spectacular scenery of Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin with amazing alpine views beyond to the peaks of the main divide.

Inspiration for the Soho Basin branding comes from an era when skiing was as much exploration as it was adventure. The brand team drew on design concepts popular in the 1930's to connect these inspiration points with this startup ski resort. We felt strongly that Soho Basin should by-pass the typical ski resort design ideas of the 70's and 80's, and draw a relationship with an era when skiing first became popularized.

Our inspiration was also taken from pioneering clues found in America. We travelled to Yosemite National Park in California, picking up clues to an era when mountain lodges and considerable effort were all part of a wilderness leisure experience. The U.S. National Parks system contains some very relevant and well preserved references to the 1930's era, and we found inspiration in the smallest details of signage, posters, and architecture.

This brand development project is in its very early stages, with the story developing over the next few years. We have great ideas for Soho Basin, so watch this space.