In response to Covid-19 lockdowns around the world, two creatives at FCB Chicaco have designed a vintage inspired postcard series that aims to reframe how we see our homes during quarantine.
Victoria Rosselli and Robyn Frost saw an opportunity to use their creativity during quarantine for something outside of work. While they're continuing to meet the needs of their clients, they also wanted to make something that resonated with people without pushing a product, reassuring them or sending a branded message.
"What’s happening in the world at the moment is tragic and it can become overwhelming when you’re reading the news all day," they tell us. "Hopefully, everyone is at home right now – we’re looking out the window, wondering when we’ll be able to roam around again. We wanted to create something people could easily relate to and get involved in just by staying put."
They were also inspired by a New York Times photo essay that showed the most populated areas of cities completely empty. "Which made me realise that New York wouldn’t be New York without the hustle and bustle of Times Square and London wouldn’t be London without the crowded sidewalks on Oxford Street," says Victoria. "All we know about our cities is what’s outside our window."
To create the postcard series they asked friends around the world to share photos of what they could see from home, and then gave each one its own type and design. They also posted a thread on their Twitter channels and asked people to reply with a photo of their view so they could make them a custom postcard and send it back.
“While there are travel restrictions set in place, creating postcards felt poignant as we’re unable to see the world as it’s so often sold to us," they add. "Traditional postcards focus on landmarks, tourist attractions and views, so we decided the more modern approach to this is looking out at these same things but through our windows." However, Victoria and Robyn were aware of vintage postcards being used in campaigns before - for example Wieden+Kennedy for Lyft - so they were careful not to stray into other people's territory when developing the initiative.
When it came to typography and art direction, a lot of it grew from their personal experiences in certain places meshed with elements that make them famous. For example, the London postcard is taken from the apartment of Robyn's friend Beth in Dalston, "Dalston, which has a different pace and dynamic to Soho, or Fulham, or Peckham," she says. "The picture was taken first thing in the morning, so it feels still, and anticipatory of the hustle and bustle of the day. I wanted the type to mimic that and feel dynamic, representing the diversity of London, so variable type was a natural fit.
"The Amsterdam postcard took a different tone," Robyn adds. "I instantly thought of the winding canals that thread through the city, so typography that felt and looked fluid made sense. It was a nice contrast to the stillness of my friend Rachel’s dog, dozing in the foreground”.
Victoria adds that the Brooklyn postcard was inspired by the sitcom Broad City. The photo she received had some blue hues within it which reminded her a heavily photographed view of the Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO's Washington and Front Streets, so she pulled from the blue arches and the brownstones that surround it. "Our Florence photo was relatively warm and sunny," she adds. "I’ve been playing with different shades of green lately and thought it could compliment the warm hues nicely, along with type that reminded me of spaghetti packaging. Or perhaps I was just in the mood for pasta that day."
The pair add that the whole project was made possible by their friends due to its reliance on their crowdsourced photos. "What was interesting about this process was that we could only go off the photos they sent us," they say. "We couldn’t really art direct from thousands of miles away, so while we had the creative freedom of creating our own side project, we were limited to how the photos were taken. This made them feel real and genuine though, as opposed to staged, as a brand might have approached it."
What's more, they've been overwhelmed by the response to the project. The Twitter threads that we previously mentioned have collectively racked up around 800 likes and responders have flown in from locations as far reaching as Edinburgh, Honolulu, São Paulo and Dubai. "It’s allowed us to meet and talk to a whole bunch of new people from all walks of life, which has been lovely," they say. "Both Twitter threads have little conversations going on between people talking about their homes!"
The response means that they have their work cut out to produce the promised postcards but they're doing so happily while taking their time - an element of this extracurricular activity that they particularly enjoyed.
"This was exciting to create on our own because everything was up to us – we set our own deadlines, made our own rules. If either of us were overwhelmed with agency work or needed a mental break, we took some time off from the postcards and picked up at a later date. We figured we’ll be quarantined for a while, so there wasn’t a need to put pressure on ourselves with a tight deadline."
Victoria and Robyn are toying with the the possibility of selling prints of them and donating the money to a Covid-19 related charity, but have yet to iron out the details - and moving into a commercial space would mean buying some of the fonts we’ve used, which would cost a sizeable chunk. "But it’s definitely not off the table."