Temescal Brewing’s Bold Design is a Lesson in Controlling Visual Chaos

How do you control chaos? You could ask Beau Monroe about this seemingly impossible task. When tasked with creating the design for Temescal Brewing in Oakland, he found the perfect balance of energy and clarity with the visual system. We talked with Beau to find out how he developed his work, what inspired this eye-catching design, the key to making the design process easy, and more.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Beau Monroe: I started by meeting with Sam the owner of the brewery, and Tollef the creative director. They already had an amazing space and aesthetic at that point, as well as the start to a design system that is rooted in the Memphis design movement.

They were about to begin releasing a new can of beer every month, and I was briefed to design the first two cans, as well as a flexible design system that they could use to design the rest of the cans going forward. Through our conversations, the idea of a “quilt” of patterns that would cover the can was floated. This was an exciting idea to pursue, and I basically just dove right in.

I began by creating a modular grid with clearly defined zones for branding, description, ingredients, legal text, etc. Once I felt good about the flexibility of the grid, I set out to create everything that would fill it.

I started by expanding their design system. At that point they had their logo, a nice concise color palette, and a handful of graphic elements. I expanded the color palette, introduced two quirky and geometric typefaces (Apercu and Eagle), and set out to create around 50 patterns; all of this would combine to allow for countless unique can designs.

After experimenting with label designs, I realized that I needed to strike a balance between consistency and fun unpredictability. I came up with a “coin” system for the back label that housed the logo, and displayed the beer name and its description. On the flip side, I had some fun with different typographic behaviors for the front label, that would allow each can release to have a bit of its own identity.

All of these elements eventually came together, and after designing the first two cans, I handed off the design system to their trusty team. Since then, I’ve been very pleased and surprised by each new can release!

What did you turn to for inspiration?

Beau Monroe: The Memphis design movement and Camille Walala were obvious big ones. Also, the quilts that A.P.C. creates with their leftover fabrics; those are beautiful and have some interesting design and grids.

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Temescal Brewing packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Beau Monroe: The biggest goal was to create a system that could keep up with their prolific output that would stay fun and fresh with each release. My job was to supply them with all the different components, and a simple set of guidelines; they’re accomplishing it with every new beer they put out.

How did you mix and match the patterns to perfectly give off a fresh, modern vibe?

Beau Monroe: I tried to cast a wide net when designing the patterns; both in terms of visual density, and shape, to allow for flexibility when combining them on a label. It’s a big optical balancing act, and thankfully forces a lot of play to get it right.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Beau Monroe: Controlling visual chaos. Allowing the system to have fun, while abiding by its own rules.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Beau Monroe: The sides of the cans. There are no logos or text, just a party of shapes and colors.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Beau Monroe: Find the right client and everything will click into place. Sam and Tollef are awesome guys that want to make quality products while having fun. What more could you ask for?