In 2020, Francesco Zorzi got the job of his life (at least for me). The brief was called a complete visual identity redesign for a startup founded three months earlier I send you. The company is a web app that allows small to medium sized ecommerce owners to connect to any other courier platform to control everything from sale to delivery. Zorzi’s logo design was based on Bauhaus-inspired shapes without imitating the original. (More information can be found here.)
He also created delightful illustrations for I send yous blog. Before he knew it, the flower was blooming bigger than he could have imagined and he was designing identity-based imagery for all of their releases. On top of that, he was hired as both creative director and illustrator (later design director). In the meantime he started working as an architect and designed the offices of I send youHeadquarters of in Florence, Italy: A magnificent 18th-century palazzo, currently a cornucopia of colourful, custom-designed wallpaper, imaginative lamps and witty screens designed by Zorzi and printed and installed by local artisans.
I asked him to give us a personal tour. So let’s start…
Would you say this is the greatest job you’ve ever done?
It started two years ago as commissioned work for a regular series of illustrations for I send you, a blog by a brand new startup, and soon after it grew into something bigger. Since then, I’ve been asked to design their logo and visual identity from scratch. Her growth in the first year has been quite impressive and even more impressive is the freedom I have in everything I do for her.
It was an opportunity for me to work in all professional fields that I have worked in throughout my career, from architecture to graphic design and from branding to illustration – the beating heart of the entire project. In a way, I could say that my initial approach to the illustration series included elements that I continued to use and expand upon when asked to work on their visual identity.
How did creating some illustrations become such a mammoth experience?
When I started designing the illustrations for her blog, the topic of the articles wasn’t set; So I decided to create a series that is completely independent of the text. I decided to focus on illustrating the “spirit” of the startup, the essence of their work. Working with this layer of abstraction was key to an interpretation of its “essence” which I took into account when redesigning the logo. At the same time, the illustrations immediately became part of her visual language as a kind of “alphabet”. Then, when the company moved to its current headquarters, a huge three-story palace (“Palazzo”) near the center of Florence, the illustration project naturally expanded into the third dimension through architecture and decorative pieces.
Naturally? For real? Did you do environment graphics before? What were the challenges of this work?
I’ve worked on a large scale. In 2018 I designed visual identity illustrations for the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival in NYC. Among other temporary projection installations in Florence, I have also created the identity and graphics for venues such as a sculpture museum in Tuscany; However, this was the first time I worked so massively with environment graphics. Today 45 walls are covered with my illustrations I send you Headquarters. The largest wraps around the entrance and snakes up the stairs for two stories on each side. Finding voice and balance on such large walls (the average height of each room is more than four meters) was a challenge, particularly deciding how they would coexist with the palace’s “monumental mood” (Palazzo) and its massive frescoes can the “ballroom”.
How did you determine what the theme of these murals would be?
When I started I chose some illustrations from the collection that I had already designed and used on her blog. I turned them into works of art. At the same time, the recurring element of the red circle and movement in many pieces is like telling a silent story on the walls. As the project evolved, I enjoyed creating site-specific graphics, like the giant tiger in the woods winding around the stairs. This idea came from the 50 foot tall Christmas tree in the middle of the stairs, so I wanted to design something related to nature, wild nature. I used the same theme to introduce the parallel theme room on the first floor; The design features two corridors and features the tiger opening its mouth to star-filled space. The latest designs involve two new rooms and because of their physical location under the roof I was inspired to create a wintry mountain scenery with skiers, snowboarders, mountaineers and hikers.
How long did it take you to plan and implement the whole thing?
Everything happened in different steps. I came up with the initial idea for the first series of illustrations in two weeks, then it took me two to three months to design the logo and brand identity proposal, and then in those two years everything else was designed. I work on more focused tasks each time, designing for different areas at the same time (e.g. packaging boxes, furniture for the event space, specific wallpaper for the same space, etc.). I send you in-house design studio with two graphic designers, Fabio Massimo De Luca and Luca Terzo. The project is running.