Glasfurd & Walker Designs Stories That Stand Out
The Canadian graphic design firm’s creative director, Phoebe Glasfurd, discusses its distinct approach to strategy, identity, and storytelling.
By Janine Stankus
January 08, 2018
Branding for Botanist restaurant at Canada's Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel.
Nuanced brand stories, experiences, and spaces define Glasfurd & Walker’s approach to graphic design. The Vancouver, Canada–based firm is helmed by Phoebe Glasfurd and Aren Fieldwalker: Glasfurd draws on her award-winning career in design and branding to oversee all creative, and Fieldwalker leverages his 15 years of global brand strategy and account management experience to head up the business side. The duo is all about cultivating a strategic juxtaposition that serves to surprise, delight, and (most importantly) draw people in. From a lush-yet-grounded fine dining concept that works at the intersection of art and science to neon signage that takes Chinese brasserie patrons to old Shanghai, their work is art with a story and purpose. Surface spoke to Glasfurd about the firm’s philosophy and the projects set to dazzle design denizens in 2018.
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Tell us about Glasfurd & Walker’s history, and what it does as a firm.
Aren and I founded Glasfurd & Walker in 2007 after meeting at an agency in Sydney—we then moved to Vancouver, B.C. The studio has since become renowned for clients in hospitality, food and beverage, retail, fashion, and beauty. Whether working on brand identity, art direction, graphic design, digital, print, packaging, or special commissions, our goal is to make our clients’ stories stand out through the visual execution and brand narrative. We meticulously create the detail and nuances [of each project] while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. The result is a product that is interesting and relevant—and excites us along the way.
What are the firm’s core values?
All of our work is guided by three main principles: curiosity and consideration, concept and narrative, and collaboration. We question, explore, and discover. We don’t like predictability, clichés, strict categories, or things that are forced. We aim for connections that may not be obvious at first, but ultimately seem meant to be.
Branding created for Vancouver, Canada-based dessert and champagne bar, Mosquito.
Work for Canadian luxury salon, The Glamoury.
How does the firm define good design?
Good design is empathetic, unpredictable, confident, and intuitive. It is always thoughtful, and a little unexpected. For us, the most alluring design has a distinctive narrative and a point of view that puts a twist on the predictable. It has aspects that charm and inspire, and it tells a specific visual story. Good design is also not complicated—it’s simple and edited. It offers the most elegant and streamlined means of problem-solving.
What projects do you currently have in the works?
We have a range of exciting new restaurant and hospitality projects launching this year that will expand our portfolio within Vancouver and beyond. One of the most significant and interesting projects we’re working on is the renovation of the main restaurant of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Working with a grand hotel that’s such a prominent Canadian icon is exciting. The project is pegged to launch in the spring. We’re also developing a thoughtful skincare brand that uses uniquely Canadian ingredients, as well a retail and lifestyle concept store that will launch in Vancouver this summer. We’re also working with a Shanghai client on a branding project for a mixed-use space that will launch toward the end of the year.
Branding for the Canadian restaurant Savio Volpe features illustrations by artist Shannon Elliott.
The design for Japanese-Italian eatery Kissa Tanto revives the kisa jazu subculture of the 1960s.
Branding creating for Bao Bei brasserie invites patrons to experience elements of old Shanghai intertwined with its owner's family history.