Studio profile: Paper Stone Scissors

Published:  June 14, 2012
Studio profile: Paper Stone Scissors

Communications gurus Paper Stone Scissors have provided collateral and identity solutions for for LMFF, Alannah Hill, Calibre and Tupperware, just to name a few. Here they share some of their favourite projects and prove why their studio name surpasses any old playground game.

Interview with: Atia Cader and Andrew Majzner

desktop: Paper Stone Scissors (PSS) obviously has a great love for fashion, and these days the studio is known for its art direction. Did this happen organically or was it a conscious decision to head in this direction?
Atia Cader and Andrew Majzner: We have always had a love for fashion. It is an industry where image, graphics, packaging, signage and tone of voice all have an important role to play. Photography has also been a great love – the two just found each other within our studio. The business has a great understanding of fashion and lifestyle products and, therefore, it has evolved progressively. Having said that, we never want to stand still, so as we develop the studio, who knows where we will go?

The Paper Stone Scissors Melbourne team

You set up a studio in Shanghai in 2007. Was Asia the first choice for your first international studio? How does the design scene, culture and the work that you do there reflect the work produced from Melbourne?
It wasn’t really a conscious choice. We always knew we wanted the challenge of opening a second studio. We had already experienced a few jobs out of the Asia region and the development of the Chinese market was prominent wherever we looked. Coincidentally, we were lucky to have one of our senior designers move there for personal reasons. He was trusted and we had a great relationship with him, so we asked him to check it out for us.

Our first new business visit to Shanghai was so exciting and inspirational that we made the decision straightaway to give it a go. At the time, the design scene was very limited: you either had international brands with amazing work or pretty much nothing. In the past three years, the scene has changed dramatically and keeps developing at a rapid rate.

The better designers have generally been trained overseas, but more and more local institutions are offering design courses. The level of local work keeps getting better and more small studios like ours are exploring the market. The work differs quite a bit from our Melbourne studio. For one, there is not so much fashion in the mix. The market is in building, development, brand identities and hospitality. The cultural differences are huge – colour choice, business etiquette, humour, visual sophistication. Our challenge has been to marry our design sophistication with local expectations and understanding. Lifting, educating and exciting clients without moving too fast or far from what they know.

The Chinese culture is incredible. It’s underpinned by thousands of years of cultural appreciation, trade, business, science and spiritualism – strengths that seem to be emerging again and playing a role today. It’s been a worthwhile challenge for us and a great experience.

Peter Alexander 2012 calendar

The Melbourne studio currently hovers around 25 staff. Melbourne studios in particular have a tendency to keep within the five to 10 people mark. Could you please talk a bit about the decision to expand to such a big number?
It was an obvious decision from the perspective that we wanted to be able to fulfil the needs of our clients who were asking for an integrated approach to their businesses. We couldn’t do it all and didn’t want to. We knew where our strength lay and started gathering amazing people around us who answered the alternative skill sets required. As the number of jobs started increasing the workload, we naturally expanded the team. And, yes, sometimes the responsibility is scary, but the team is totally worth it.

What is the culture like at PSS? Do you have any particular approaches to how the studio is run – especially given the high number of staff?
We try and keep the culture quite relaxed. There is no real hierarchy, but there is structure and responsibility. Everyone gets thrown in the deep end, but there is always team support for all. Working hard and innovatively is central to our core, as is having a collaborative team spirit. Because the studio is big, we focus on trying to mix up the teams on jobs, so various people get to work together. We also love the individuality of our staff, so we are constantly thinking up ways to draw this out. We often have studio design projects where everyone, even our CFO (chief financial officer), has to contribute. Food is another great bridge – with multiple cultures to draw from, we find that it’s a great meeting point.

Alannah Hill collateral

Can you please talk a bit about the studio name? How did it come about?
My two founding partners were very clever and humble and didn’t want to use names. In a truly creative process of beer (and, at that time, cigarettes), Paper Stone Scissors was brainstormed and decided upon.

PSS has been responsible for the L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival (LMFF) for the past five years. What are the challenges in upping the campaign each year and creating something that has high appeal to both the fashion industry and the broader public?
The challenges with the festival creative aren’t really different to any of our other regular client jobs. We have had some of our clients for over a decade and so being innovative and getting inspired to do a better job each year is sort of in our blood. In fact, having the history with a client provides us with very fertile ground to work. LMFF in particular is such a great project, as we have been a key partner in implementing a more integrated approach to the creative, communication and brand strategy. The brief from the client is always very succinct – it cleverly incorporates a key emotion with a strategic business objective. We are then left free to conceptualise it as we see fit. The trust they have in us makes us want to achieve the best that we can.

What are the future plans for the studio?
The future for us is currently being defined. Over the past few years, we have been striving to strike a balance between maintaining our standard of work, making the Shanghai office financially independent and also creating an inspirational headquarters in Melbourne. For the next few years, our plan might be to stabilise and strengthen. Maintaining our level of design will be a number one objective and to keep honing the skills of our team.


desktop asked Cader and Majzner to select a few of their favourite projects from the past few years:

Client: Alannah Hill
Forever quirky, Alannah Hill has stamped her iconic brand on the Australian fashion sector with authority. We have reinforced this authority and advanced the brand through equally strong and quirky communications. We have overhauled much of the brand’s communication devices from brand identity through to in-store brand collateral such as bags, boxes, garment bags and signage. From its engaging website through to the enchanting and whimsical fashion imagery we hope to continue to expand and evolve the Alannah Hill brand mystique.

Alannah Hill campaign imagery, AW12

Client: LMFF
LMFF is Australia’s leading fashion festival targeting both industry and consumers. Over the years, we have provided a full creative service underpinning the annual festival, and accommodated a broad range of media and applications. By ensuring these creative concepts and integrated communication executions are at the very forefront of global trends, LMFF has emerged as one of world’s leading fashion events. The creative design and imagery has allowed the LMFF to maintain its unique and aspirational positioning while broadening its public appeal.

L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival campaigns from 2007 - 2012

Client: Calibre
Men’s fashion brand Calibre has been leading the field in Australia for more than 25 years. We were engaged to consolidate and develop its strong market position while creating campaigns that enabled more tactical communication strategies. We have carefully articulated that brand position as a foundation to advancing the brand in a manner which steadfastly maintains its signature personality. The first campaign, set over 24 hours in Paris, featured leading international model Miguel Iglesias, who epitomises the essence of the brand. The latest campaign (pictured), Red Hot Rio starring the Brazilian model Arthur Sales coincided with the launch of the new Calibre website which meant online content became a key focus for the work we did each season. The campaign was broken into four parts dropped throughout the season to keep the site fresh and new.

The latest Calibre campaign 'Red Hot Rio', featuring Brazilian model Arthur Sales

Client: Herman Miller
Designed specifically for the Asian market, Arras is the very first product range designed by Herman Miller’s Asia Research and Development Group. The Arras product is built around the concept of being able to easily change office configurations by moving people rather than furniture. In addition to designing the Arras brand identity, we designed a full suite of complementary branding and communication materials, including a large format brochure and website. The website features a short video which has proved useful in demonstrating the versatility and convenience of the pieces in the range. The branding and communications developed by us reflect the simple, easy-to-use design philosophy that underpins the entire Arras product range, and has ensured that all brand touchpoints remain aligned with the ethos of the brand.

Arras product range naming, identity and collateral 2010

Client: Peter Alexander
Peter Alexander has transformed sleepwear into a thriving fashion category. Along the way we have ensured that the Peter Alexander brand has a comprehensive range of communication and branding tools that capture the spirit of this iconic brand while building sales and creating a foundation for growth. This support has included a broad array of creative endeavour from the design of calendars and dog food labels for the animal charity RSPCA to stylish product packaging. Fashion imagery developed for Peter Alexander sets the standard for the category and has involved many of the world’s photographic and modelling luminaries. 2012 sees Peter Alexander celebrating 25 years, a testament to the loyalty and love people have for the brand, going from strength to strength each year.

Peter Alexander season campaigns

Client: Tupperware
This iconic global lifestyle brand has been working with us for a number of years. Maintaining its place within the market has required new and exciting communication devices that create interest and build connections with the sales team and shoppers. The challenge has been to continually push for communication techniques and devices that ensure the entire branding and communication efforts remain aligned with Tupperware’s commitment to quality, promotion and product innovation. In addition, a range of fresh communication devices has been developed to celebrate Tupperware’s 50 years of partying in Australia.

Tupperware Cookbook, 2011

All images copyright Paper Stone Scissors.

From desktop magazine.

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