Credit for this trend is often handed to grooming products brand American Crew, whose 25-plus year legacy is lovingly documented in a riot of high-contrast design, compelling photography, and rich texture that you only get from uncoated paper.
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A PAST-MEETS-PRESENT AESTHETIC
Founded by Chicago hair stylist David Raccuglia in 1994, American Crew has grown to include dozens of grooming products sold directly to salons and individuals, from shampoos and colognes to mustache waxes and lotions. And from the very beginning design firm
TODA has, working closely with David and his photography, shaped the look and feel of the brand in its marketing materials. A quick flip through the book “American Crew 25 Years” reveals just how effective this unique aesthetic can be.
Displayed in salons across the country this book, which allows clients to browse styles while waiting for the next empty chair, feels utterly timeless. This is due to the creative tension between TODA’s modern design and David’s moody, high-contrast monochrome photography. In this mix of past and present, it is the past that clearly wins out.
From its sparing use of just a few accent colors to the occasional glimpse of American Crew’s packaging, it’s not hard to see the influence that tonic bottles and photography of the 1940s had on David, the brand, and ultimately, this book. The one big nod to the present here – Red and White hot foil stamping on the super-thick Black cardboard cover – makes this a hard volume not to pick up.
A RAW & TEXTURED PAPER CHOICE
The use of Domtar Cougar’s uncoated paper for this book – the go-to sheet for previous American Crew publications, as well – accomplishes a couple of things at once. First, from a design standpoint, its texture enhances the fine details of the hairstyles depicted, while also showing off the rich Blacks used throughout. (TODA specifically requested 2 hits of Black.) One of the biggest challenges facing the book’s printer, Active Graphics: keeping those Black areas super-dark without losing the highlights in the high-contrast photography.
The second benefit of an uncoated sheet might be psychological.
With its rough, raw feel, it gives off a certain masculine air, which can’t hurt when you consider American Crew’s target audience. (Though you certainly don’t need a Y chromosome to appreciate an uncoated sheet 😉 )
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.