US DJ Storm Queen and X Factor band Little Mix don’t have much in common musically, but their latest albums both feature designs by London studio Baby. We asked founder Simon Moore about creating identities and campaigns for politicians, musicians and authors.
Moore set up Baby in 2005 and has been running the studio full-time since 2009. He has worked on projects for Brian Paddock and Nick Clegg, author James Palumbo and fashion brands including Cruise, Liberty and Nike I.D.
“The whole idea behind setting up my own company was to have the freedom to tackle a wide variety of projects, both large and small, in a range of fields,” says Moore, who has worked in advertising, branding and digital roles, and as creative director at Ministry of Sound.
“Throughout my career I’d always enjoyed taking on very different projects… but wherever I worked liked to, or maybe had to, specialise in certain areas, which meant things started to feel a touch repetitive after a while,” he adds.
Instead of employing full-time staff, Moore works with a range of freelancers to ensure he isn’t restricted to a certain kind of project. “I felt it would be difficult and costly for a small agency to employ people with the range of skills needed to handle such different challenges, and that bringing people in full-time would dictate the sort of work we could do…so I decided that Baby would be a flexible entity, expanding or contracting depending on the size of the project, allowing me the chance to say yes to any job I like the sound of regardless of the budget or nature of the skills required to produce it,” he adds.
As well as Little Mix and Storm Queen, Baby’s musical clients include solo singer Yasmin (identity and poster design above), New York DJ Chris Malinchak:
Record label Relentless:
And electronic act Petter & The Pix (image by Joe Belt):
His musical tastes have little influence on his approach to cover art but before starting a music project, Moore likes to meet with artists and discuss their work. “It’s not that common a practice any more but I do find it incredibly helpful. Some are better at communicating and engaging in the creative side of their campaigns than others, but I enjoy helping them to articulate the reasons behind why they’ve created the music they have and then expressing this visually. Sometimes it can just be an off-the-cuff remark, or some biographical details, but because music is such a personal form of expression I think it’s important that its visual side has a clear reason for being and a specific link to the artist, rather than some meaningless aesthetic jingle,” he says.
Since setting up Baby, Moore says his favourite project has been designing Ministry of Sound founder James Palumbo’s first novel, Tomas, and the campaign to promote it. “[It’s] an extraordinarily dark, vivid and brutal satire on excess and fame. Given the source material it was somewhat of an open goal, creatively speaking…our idea was based solely on utilising the power and impact of the author’s words, elevating them to a position whereby the poster advertising needed nothing more than some choice excerpts from the book, and producing a cover that gave no hint as to what was inside,” he says.
“As the cover and advertising were to show no imagery, we instead decided to feature this among the pages of the book, commissioning the wonderful illustrator Neal Murren to produce some nightmarish images” he adds.
Moore also used monochrome and bold statements in a campaign for Liberal Democract MP Brian Paddock:
And one promoting his latest venture, The Creative Directory. The online directory features selected creatives instead of allowing anyone to upload their work, and is designed to make it easier to find stylists, photographers, illustrators or artists for commissions.
The campaign and stationery groups bizarre combinations of words to highlight the site’s detailed tagging system:
And illustrators including Rob Lowe (Supermundane) and Stuart Daly made monochrome typographic designs for the directory homepage:
Moore chose to study graphic design after being inspired by the work of Mark Farrow and his cover art for the Pet Shop Boys. He also worked as an intern at Michael Johnson’s studio, and says it was a “lasting influence to witness the clarity and intelligence of his approach to design. I just wish I hadn’t ballsed it up by creating a horribly misguided logo for a youth film organisation based on a lump of coal,” he adds.
Album art and print work for Alex Metric and Jacques Lu Cont, Liberty and Nike I.D.
Lumps of coal aside, whether he’s designing for an MP or a production company, Moore likes to keep things simple. “As is probably abundantly obvious from looking at the work that comes out of the studio, I’m a staunch proponent of simplicity within design. This isn’t just for aesthetic reasons, but also for clarity of communication. Too often, in my opinion anyway, the message a designer has been hired to communicate ends up swallowed up by a tsunami of frippery, introduced either by the client or designer. I have no doubt I can be guilty of going too far the other way, [but] I do strongly believe in the idea of removing anything that fulfils no purpose. If what is left is then handled with imagination, thoughtfulness and care, that to me is what makes good design,” he says.
See more of Baby’s work at wearebaby.com