Last year’s Best in Show winners, Box 8 Creative, answered questions about their involvement with CADC, their inspiration for their winning project for The Blue Duck, and the graphics for this year’s awards show.
Describe how and when Box 8 Creative began and how it evolved from focusing on the dining industry to “building powerful brands across multiple industries.”
Box 8 started in 2010 as a one-person design shop with no real industry focus. After having the opportunity to work closely with the team at Barteca—which at the time only had four Barcelona locations under their group—I realized that a passion for the hospitality industry produced the best work. Working with one Chef/Owner to produce our first restaurant brand snowballed into what now consists of over 100 restaurant brands. Once we established ourselves in the hospitality space, it was easy to move into food and beverage packaging, retail and living developments, and restaurant groups.
How long have you participated in the CADC awards show and what does receiving recognition like Best in Show mean to you?
We’ve submitted creative to the show on and oﬀ since 2018. Connecticut is filled with talented agencies and creative people, so being selected as the best of the best among such a strong community is an incredible honor. This project, The Blue Duck, is a perfect example of both an ideal client allowing us to really build out the narrative, as well as utilizing the strongest skill sets of our team to produce it.
What was the initial scope for The Blue Duck restaurant project? Did they already have that name; what was the inspiration and creative process developing that brand identity?
Sal D’Angelo approached us with an idea for a new bar in New London named The Blue Duck. At first we had pulled some pretty expected references for Americana restaurants and bars, but we had one “wild card” mood board that really embraced the playfulness of Billy Madison’s drawing of the blue duck. It pretty much rejected the more classic, Americana feel of the typical bar scene in a way that really spoke to how irreverent the name is. Thankfully, Sal was down for something unique and oﬀ-beat, and from there The Blue Duck was hatched.
We focused on developing this narrative of “never seeing a blue duck” in which you see the brand mascot running around in his Looney-Tunes-esque disguise and leaving behind a trail of duckprints. To keep the sentiment of the movie—never losing sight of your inner child—mind, we experimented with mixed media, scribbles and doodles, and really leaning into the “crayons in art class” vibe. We even created our own typeface from markers. Overall, we’d say The Blue Duck is a prime example of taking risks, leaning into the chaos of the creative process, and embracing the weird; ‘cuz why not?
How do you incorporate client feedback into the project and what was that process like?
During our process, the majority of the feedback comes during two stages: the initial brand discovery meeting where we work to define the creative brief, and then again after visual mood boards are presented to the client. Once that collaboration takes place, our design team dives into the full brand scope and prepares the presentation. The Blue Duck had such a clear vision that nothing was really changed as we executed the physical collateral.
As the 2022 Best in Show winner, CADC asked Box 8 to create visuals to promote the 2023 awards show. How did you develop the Show Stoppers concept?
There’s something undeniably silly about the pageantry of awards for graphic design. We think it’s an excellent way to build community and to celebrate creatives and their work, but we also think it’s important to step back, laugh, and not take ourselves too seriously. It’s such a fun night of celebrating creativity, so we wanted to create something… well, fun and creative. The parallel of the pageantry and whimsy of dog shows was perfect for this. As designers we jump through hoops, too, so we should at least get a fancy ribbon and trophy for it, right?
Finally, as part of CADC’s mission, what’s your advice to young designers entering the workforce this year?
MAKE. COOL. STUFF. The beauty of design—and creative work in general—is that it can literally be anything. It can say anything, it can look like, feel like, sound like, taste like anything. We’re tasked with creating something from essentially nothing; let that inspire you. Don’t hold back!