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Hard Graft

The understated but luxurious feel of these products is echoed in the brand typography.

Contributed by Patch Hofweber on Dec 4th, 2012. Artwork published in 2011.

Great care was taken with the letterpressed and die-cut material, which was produced by Studio On Fire.

Hard Graft is one of the hardest working design duos out there. Equal parts Englishman (James) and Austrian (monie), the two have produced over 100 products following an aesthetic that is timeless yet contemporary. They are not only prolific, but deliberate: the functionality, appearance, and tactile experience are not so much calculated as intuited. They manufacture in Italy, with a family business referred to only as “The Brothers”. The materials are also sourced from family businesses within Europe: Italian leather, German felted wool, and most recently, English waxed cotton.

Debossed merchandise cards, info cards, and leather details in harmony.

A 3D-logo with the same felted feel as the mobile case, along with a pair of AIAIAI’s TMA-1 headphones.

The type follows suit: Ole Schäfer’s FF Zine Serif Display is employed in the wordmark, grafted at the serifs to form bespoke ligatures. Playing counterpart to this masculine, square-jawed logo is our whimsical friend FF Mister K from Julia Sysmäläinen. Of a less European pedigree, Hoefler & Frere JonesSentinel appears in print splash images, with New Century Schoolbook as the webfont stand-in. Futura plays the neutral (yet still European) tone on headlines in the site. And, as these two founders have their fingers on the pulse of the Hypebeast, the recently fashionable Orator is used for splash metainfo. (The Futura used as a webfont is a questionable digitization called Function. It does not hold up to the task nor does it fit with the otherwise impeccable attention to detail.)

Hand-drawn details playing well with FF Mister K.

Broad assortment, narrow aesthetic. See a full-size view of Hard Graft’s product line.

Pinterest’s letterpress feel (albeit ubiquitous) serendipitously aligns with the debossment of Hard Graft’s products and packaging. The company has done an excellent job harnessing this social media to promote their brand and aesthetic, whether its press coverage, behind the scenes, or customer pics.

Hard Graft could be criticized for using too many typefaces (or praised for their typographic eclecticism?), but much like their product line, the texture of the typography gives a richness that grey and brown can’t shoulder on their own. Personally, I would axe either Orator or Futura, and would be quick to upgrade Schoolbook to Sentinel once H&FJ webfonts are available.

Patch Hofweber is a young multidisciplinary designer living in southern Sweden. His latest work is the typeface Trim Poster in collaboration with Göran Söderström and Letters from Sweden.


2 Comments on “Hard Graft”

  1. Mark says:
    Apr 8th, 2014  6:39 pm
    Edit

    Not mentioned is the main logo’s use of Goudy Heavy. Love the site.

  2. Apr 9th, 2014  7:25 am
    Edit

    Mark — I don’t see any Goudy Heavy, but the logo has changed from FF Zine Serif (shown in this Blog post) to Caslon Graphique

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