WNW Member Cari Sekendur launched her own studio Butter just over a year ago. We recently caught up with the Brooklyn-based Creative Director, Art Director, Designer (and Founder), and are loving the eclectic range of project highlights already on display in their portfolio: full-scope branding for a boxing-inspired streetwear brand, a Manhattan seafood staple, a Nashville-based coffee shop, a record company, and more. In our interview below, Cari shares why it was time to open her own studio, how Butter determines which projects to take on, whether her approach has changed from her days as a freelancer, and the biggest challenges and surprised in building a studio.
Support Butter project, Buddish, on Kickstarter! Buddish is a deck of cards made up of philosophies, tools, and perspectives influenced by Buddhist tradition. It’s contents are Budd-ish. After discovering Buddhism through Dharma Punx—a NYC Buddhist community—Lauren began incorporating its ideologies in her own life. Inspired to share how the practice impacts her outlook, through Buddish, Lauren makes Buddhism accessible, enjoyable, and relevant.
"Consistency is great and all, but so is going totally, unexpectedly wild. Brooklyn’s Butter studio worked with New York brewery Other Half to design labels for its short-run beer collaborations, and they are as fun as they are varied. For a Florida retiree-themed beer, Butter designed a peachy label dotted with dolphins and dentures. A milk stout called Spiritual Nucleus is emblazoned with a trippy, screen saver pattern. Our personal favorite, a golden ale called Gold Bangles, features a glitzy print of glitter and gold rings. In other words, it’s what you would never expect from a beer company."
"Brooklyn studio Butter has served up this splendid new identity for Flex Mussels in Manhattan, a family-run restaurant that specialises in the freshest and plumpest mussels, sourced from a Canadian fishing island.
Prince Edward Island claims to have some of the best seafood in the world and it's also notable for its vibrant colours, marine-inspired architecture, and diverse landscape. Butter drew on this rich history and culture for its new brand.
"We wanted to capture the roots of the restaurant, which started as a storefront on Prince Edward Island before making its way to Manhattan as the family's 23rd establishment 10 plus years ago," says Cari Sekendur, principal of Butter."
"In other follow-up news, designer Cari Sekendur, whose philanthropic project Mo’ Money Mo’ Progress we’ve told y’all about before, got in touch about her studio Butter, out of NYC. We spent far too long playing around on the homepage of her site, scrolling over the circles to fill them with close crops of her work. When we finally got around to the work, we weren’t disappointed. Especially nice is the retro collage style of the HIFI Athletics branding, created together with illustrator, Heidi Chisholm and designer Lara Turner, for the “boxing-inspired streetwear brand” for women, non-binary, and trans people. The aim of the campaign was to express inclusion for all in combat sports, with bright colors and striking illustration and collage elements. We’re really into the moving poster and Instagram images—nice work, Butter."
Pastrytown, An Other Half Experience // Pulling Pints and Pies
An entire day full of the sweetest stouts and tartest sours, Pastrytown was a perfect panacea of craft beer delights. Doughnuts danced and strawberries shimmied into brews from the 36 of the best beer makers in the world. This sweet, sweet day of gluttony is one of Other Half's annual beer festivals that take place right to our backyard, Industry City in Brooklyn. Butter had the privilege of executing Other Half's creative director, Megan Penmann's, vision of this fanciful world onto everything from signage to social media content to print design.
CREDITS // Client: Other Half Brewing / Creative Director: Megan Penmann / Designer: Cari Sekendur
print design / signage and wayfinding / social media content / digital design / packaging design / event design
KETTNER COFFEE SUPPLY
ALMA MATER RECORDS
packaging art direction + design
OTHER HALF // Crafting Beer Labels and Brews
OTHER HALF BREWING
PACKAGING DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION
Other Half Brewing was born of a vision to brew New York beer with the effort and thoughtfulness representative of the “Other Half” of the industry. Today, Other Half produces craft beers in Brooklyn while collaborating with other breweries, local and global. Elevating their craft with every partnership, Other Half brings the hopped fruits of their labor back to the Brooklyn taproom.
Building off of Other Half’s quirky, bright, poppy brand, Butter created packaging for a number of Other Half’s short run brews—a limited supply of beers often produced in collaboration with partner breweries. Short run labels feature playful illustrations like dolphins and dentures for a Florida retiree-themed brew and metallic materials for added tactile pizazz. Our engagement evolved into an ongoing partnership; Butter designs 5+ labels monthly for the brewery as well as materials for Other Half’s bi-annual beer festivals. From packaging to event signage, our goal is always to ladder up to the unexpected nature of Other Half’s beer, creating visual experiences beer aficionados everywhere will enjoy.
Other Half's cans are often kooky and unexpected. Frequently referencing hip hop lyrics or craft-beer-world inside jokes, the brewery never shies away from pushing boundaries.
Kettner Coffee Supply is Nashville’s newest destination for titillating coffee, sweets, and subversion. Located in the east-end of Nashville, Tennessee, hospitality veteran and founder Hannah Schneider wanted to create a coffee shop unlike any she’d experienced before in quality and aesthetic. Serving coffee made from the top two percent of the world’s best beans, Kettner prides itself on bringing Nashville premium coffee at an accessible price.
Butter rose to the challenge of developing an unexpected identity that satisfies Kettner’s appetite for something memorable and unique. Designing an experience that would resonate with the myriad creatives and young professionals flocking to Nashville, the brand celebrates nuances of Nashvillians, native and new, as well as Kettner’s female-led team. The brand is equal parts feminist, modern, and fun.
The system touches key pieces of the Kettner Coffee experience from cheeky coffee cups to a thought-provoking menu and soft serve container, merchandise with illustrative innuendos, and ink on skin—the brand spoke to Schneider so much, she now has a tattoo of one of our illustrations. The identity creates an experience as tempting as sneaking out for a mid-afternoon coffee or savoring a forbidden treat.
We created a risque identity replete with
scantily clad illustrations and suggestive
statements—tonally minimal with lively expression.
Applying Kettner’s saucy tone, a series of distinct
messages appear across materials, adding an element
of surprise and spice with each purchase.
ALMA MATER RECORDS // A Music Label Modernized
ALMA MATER RECORDS
BRAND IDENTITY, NAMING, WEB DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION, SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT
creative direction, naming, design, illustration
Alma Mater Records, formerly “Hot Mom USA,” were in need of brand refresh that would harmonize the label with their ethos. The company wanted to preserve a mention of motherhood in the name through a sentiment more inclusive of the company’s values—feminists, LGBTQIA+ folks, and POC. We renamed the group Alma Mater, meaning “nourishing mother” in Latin. The name gave the brand an elevated image that resonates with youth culture, and stays true to the label’s maternal roots. The lions in the logo were inspired by the the Greek goddess Cybele, who was referred to as “alma mater” during ancient times. Cybele’s lion-drawn chariot would cue wild music and disorderly, ecstatic scenes wherever the goddess would go. We loved this idea of ecstatic disorder and carried it into the rest of the identity, using collage elements, illustration, and bright colors.
The logo is modular and can be used in its largest format for maximum impact or one of the subtler formats to suit applications like album covers, where we want the album artwork to shine.
FLEX MUSSELS // A Taste of the Canadian Coast
BRAND IDENTITY, PRINT DESIGN, WEB DESIGN, ILLUSTRATION, SIGNAGE DESIGN
creative direction, design, illustration
Flex Mussels is a Manhattan restaurant staple serving globally inspired seafood from coast to coast. Flex’s speciality: the freshest, plumpest mussels from Prince Edward Island, cooked in a variety of 23 extraordinary sauces.
The restaurant is a family establishment with origins in PEI, Canada—a picturesque fishing island notable for its vibrant colors, marine inspired architecture, and diverse landscape. The concept for Flex’s new brand identity is inspired by all things PEI. The Flex team wanted to capture the roots of the restaurant, which started as a storefront on PEI before making its way to Manhattan as the family’s 23rd restaurant ten plus years ago.
A cheeky quality is carried through the brand, from the illustrations to logos, colors, and taglines. Brand collateral features whimsical illustrations of characters you’d see fishing and frolicking on PEI beaches, as well as island architecture and natural gems. Geometric compositions inspired by nautical flags and colors found on PEI are interspersed throughout the system. Flex menus are full of surprises, intended to bring a sense of discovery and delight to each guest as they flip through. The structure of the menu was thoughtfully considered to maximize ease of use for the restaurant, sustainability, and the guest experience.
The system is dynamic, featuring multiple designs for each brand collateral piece. This gives guests the opportunity to have a different experience each time they dine at Flex.
ARK FOODS VEGGIE BOWLS // Rutabagas Gone Wild
ARK FOODS VEGGIE BOWLS
ART DIRECTION, PACKAGING DESIGN, PRINT DESIGN
art direction, design
product photography, art direction
SEBASTIAN ARGUELLO, GUILLERMO OVIES
Ark Foods Founder Noah Robins grew up in agriculture, dreaming of veggies. Seeking vegetables in the produce aisle as incredible as those he’d experienced fresh from the farm—and in a quest for the perfect shisito—Noah developed his own pepper and veggie farm, cultivating vegetables for purchase across the United States and Canada under a new brand: Ark Foods. Butter was tasked with bringing Ark Foods’ existing branding into a food packaging aesthetic that would stand apart from the staid sea of consumer packaged goods on the shelf. Butter had the opportunity to do prop styling and art direction alongside extraordinary photographer Jeff Harris and food stylist mastermind Lisa Homa. With the photos of each dish complete, Butter took Ark Food’s established brand and gave it a minimalist revival for application onto the packaging of Ark Foods’ Veggie Bowls—plant-based pastas made from rutabaga ribbons and cauliflower florets. The project was the brand’s first foray into the prepared foods category following years of being solely a raw vegetable distributor. Ark Foods Veggie Bowls are now sold at Whole Foods nationally, as well as other select food marketplaces.
We took Ark Foods established brand identity and pared it back by removing rustic-feeling flourishes to create a more contemporary, minimal overall look.
We sourced brightly colored, handmade bowls to hold our veggie pastas, giving the front of the package a pop of color to help it stand out on shelf.
HIFI ATHLETICS // Boxing Inspired Apparel for the Underdog
BRAND IDENTITY, NAMING, WEB DESIGN, SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT, ANIMATION, ILLUSTRATION
CARI SEKENDUR, HEIDI CHISHOLM, LARA TURNER, MOLLY CARKEET
Hifi Athletics is a boxing-inspired streetwear brand. It creates considered apparel to empower women, non-binary, and trans people in combat sports and beyond by subverting the macho narrative of boxing to make it their own. Launching soon.
The purpose of the brand is to push the culture of women, non-binary, and trans people in boxing forward by spreading awareness and building a brand that boxing aficionados and streetwear enthusiasts alike can rally around.
Butter created the brand identity and all digital assets for HiFi. The concept pushes a streetwear aesthetic with quirky collages elements, bright colors, and graphics that promote diversity and inclusion within the sport and outside it.
A series of collages for a pre-launch social media campaign were developed to spark intrigue in the brand. The collages mix vintage boxing paraphenailia with textures and other cheeky elements.
The brand mark is two "corners," which represents the ideal from boxing of, "being in one's corner". It represents a sense of unity and teamwork within the sport.
on Instagram for news on product releases and the launch of the brand!
BUDDISH // Zen for the Modern World
SECONDARY RESEARCH, NAMING, TONE OF VOICE, COPYWRITING
LAUREN ZETTLER, MOLLY CARKEET
naming, tone of voice, copywriting
Buddish is a deck of cards made up of philosophies, tools, and perspectives influenced by Buddhist tradition. It’s contents are Budd-ish. After discovering Buddhism through Dharma Punx—a NYC Buddhist community—Lauren began incorporating its ideologies in her own life. Inspired to share how the practice impacts her outlook, through Buddish, Lauren makes Buddhism accessible, enjoyable, and relevant.
Led by Lauren’s Buddhist knowledge and creative vision, Butter developed the Buddish name, tone of voice, and incorporated research to write and edit content for the fifty-two-card deck. Bringing scripture to the post-information age, the brand voice balances the profundity of ancient teachings with the absurdity of how we experience and navigate life today.
Butter also developed content for the Buddish illustrated guide: a how-to on the various ways to interact with the Buddish deck. Helping with social and advertorial content, newsletters, and other copy needs, we continue to work on the project today. With a card for every week of the year, Buddish is for anyone looking for a fresh perspective that stands the test of time. Through a simple, conscious, tactile exercise, this artful deck promotes self- and social-improvement—zen—for the modern world.
LES DÉGOMMEUSES // Empowering Women During World Cup Fever
"Around the world, on the tall grasses of the countryside, on the clay terrains of townships, and on the concrete of cities, they defy – sometimes in spite of themselves – the norms and expectations of gender. They confront prejudice, they affirm themselves, they occupy space. They are women, and they are footballers.
Powerful, quick, technical, eager, free: this is how we, Les Dégommeuses, imagine footballers. Queer, badass, cute, or whatever – design them as you wish, but remember that this contest intends to highlight their diversity."
This was the brief given by Les Dégommeuses, a queer activist association and soccer team based in Paris, for their Women's World Cup poster competition.
Our poster was selected as part of a series of 13 finalists and in turn was exhibited in galleries in Paris and subsequently across the globe. It was also hung in the center of Paris along the walls of the official Fifa Fan Zone during the Cup as well as wheatpasted across the city by the team.
We were honored to take part in this competition and hope that our work helped to showcase the diversity of women in soccer as well as inspire young girls to pursue their passion for the sport.
The posters were exhibited around the perimiter of the Fifa Fan Zone in Paris during the World Cup.
Watching France play a World Cup match with Les Dégommeuses at their local bar.
The New York Times published an feature on Les Dégommeuses during the World Cup that told the story of their activist work fighting for acceptance of queer footballers in France and highlighted the posters as one of their tools for awareness.