After a lot of research, we found that some of the main issues with the old brand were that, while it was pushing boundaries with its accessible consumer approachability, it lacked a sense of premium quality. The aesthetic was too ‘whimsical’ and ultimately immature for the newly evolved product. There was no transparency on UI, the copy was way too convoluted, and we also now served software and SaaS businesses all over the world, so it needed to have more of a global feel. Paddle needed to retain a trendy consumer approach but much more maturely. A few key concepts kept circling in the initial stages of the project: ‘global,’ ‘premium,’ and ‘human-centric.’ These three became very much the bedrock of the exploration that followed.
A huge influence on the brand’s style came from discovering all this amazing artwork done by airbrush artists in the 80s. There was no photoshop or drawing tablets back then, and everything was rendered using traditional media. That might bring you to expect acrylic, oil, screen-print, and lino, but a highly underrated art technique that swept the world in the 80s was airbrush art. This style allowed artists to create incredibly meticulous, photo-realistic artwork that felt super stylized, while still clearly being painted by a human hand. The high-quality render with a human-centric touch really attracted me to this style, and it aligned with our key concepts and what we wanted out of this new look and feel. 3D design is also trending in 2022, so it was a relevant and future-proof design direction for the market.
Sci-fi also very much captured the zeitgeist of the time, with the likes of Blade Runner, Star Wars, and Tron sweeping through Hollywood- permeating into all walks of life including art and design. This gave the airbrush, 3D photo-realistic style very futuristic motifs, from shiny chrome materials to robot hands, to heavy use of perspective Tron-like grids, creating boundless landscapes that felt perpetual and grandiose.
The work throughout this period is very sleek- I compiled a mood board on Pinterest at the time, if anyone wants some more 80s retro goodness, have a look here.
I was also heavily inspired by alot of artists of the Surrealist movement in the early 19th century including Rene Magritte, Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dali and David Inshaw. Alot of these works exist on these 3D planes giving that feeling of perpetuity we were looking for, as well having dramatic, emotional lighting spilling across the respective compositions adding drama and interest. Magrittes convention bending is inherently intriguing to the human eye, whilst David Inshaw works contains elements of whats called 'magic realism', fantasy worlds that are grounded in realism enough to really allow you to empathise and get lost in this impressionist reverie, also aligning itself well with the other-worldly sci-fi aesthetic in the research before. These elements played in very nicely to the idea of creating worlds where are sellers are yet to venture into and instilling a feeling of inspiration and excitement.