For Hybrid Design, a full service design firm in San Francisco, the Mohawk Keaykolour project had layers. On its face, the objective of this project was pretty simple: introduce a new line of uncoated colored paper from Mohawk called Keaykolour. But as with most Mohawk projects, there was a higher-minded purpose guiding the creatives at Hybrid Design; in this instance, their objective was getting designers excited about colored paper.
Functionally, this project had to serve as a swatch book—laying out all the possible choices—but it also had to double as inspiration. Drawing on the playful experience color can evoke, the interactive swatch book encourages the mixing and matching of the 42 Mohawk Keaykolour color options. Loose and unbound, cards can be combined and recombined using die-cut shapes as viewfinders, mashing up color combinations.
“The result is a, dare-we-say, fun paper spec’ing experience that reinvigorates the potential of colored paper in design,” says Hybrid creative director Caleb Kozlowski.
From the beginning, the design team set out to keep the project “dead simple,” which meant minimal printing. “This was easier said than done, forcing us to rely on form instead of imagery—just pure object quality,” Kozlowski says. “In the end, this restriction was actually kind of freeing and helped us think differently about the project.”
They had a sense that they wanted the project to be interactive but weren’t sure what that really meant. It was through their own play with the paper swatches that they came to realize that combining colors is one of the great joys of working with colored paper.
“The way colors work together is somehow more than the sum of their parts,” Kozlowski says. “So we built the structure around these windows in the cards to encourage seeing colors as elements of palettes rather than individual colors.”
After the initial release, Kozlowski says the response was fantastic: “It was really fun hearing from friends and peers who got it before they knew we designed it. It hit a chord for a lot of people whose opinions we hold up on high.” And sales were very strong after the launch.
“Seeing people use the windows in the cards to create color combinations is very satisfying,” Kozlowski adds. “When you design interactive qualities into a project, you never know if—and how—people will use them. A story got passed our way about a design educator using the kit as a tool to teach students about color in the classroom. That’s so much higher praise than a ‘like’ on Instagram. It means we actually made something useful.”
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