Crafted explores culture through a collision of ideas and perspectives


Branding and Experiential

Building a platform for communal exchange

Division within our city

San Diego is a city with a rich and diverse creative scene. Throughout the past few years, each subculture has excelled at building itself up. Designers have the design community, dancers have the dance community, and artists have the art community. All these people coexist in one place yet never cross paths. Moreover, because we’re a border town with conservative roots, social conflict is inevitable.

As an agency, we’re big believers in cultural exchange and pride ourselves on building experiences that provoke dialogue and bring people together. We asked ourselves what might happen if these groups sat side-by-side and were given a space to have transparent and real conversations despite their differences. It was out of this tension that Crafted was born.

Crafted is our way of championing empathy within our community.

Erwin Hines: Creative Director, BASIC

From dinner series to community platform

The Crafted mission is to impact culture through collision. To uphold this pursuit, the baseline tier of our initiative uses dinner to unite people from different disciplines and encourage honest conversations. Each month, we curate a special pop-up experience centered around a key theme, which helps define the chef’s tasting menu and a loose guest list for the evening.

Our vision for Crafted broadened with each experience, as we wanted to find a way to share the stories and perspectives of guests past the dinner table. The Artist Showcase is a biannual gallery aimed at spotlighting disparate and lesser known art forms introduced at the dinners, bringing together creators across multiple fields, from painters and musicians to foodies and tastemakers.

The Crafted initiative culminates in our annual Cultural Conversation, a panel series we developed to amplify the conversations had at the table. Using the dinner experience as a model for greater dialogue with the community, we leverage familiar faces from our tables as well as other local creators to both analyze and contextualize the key themes.

A brand designed to bring people together

Because culture is made by many, it was imperative for us to create an identity that reflects both the individual creator as well as the overall collective. Our community undertaking called for a brand that invites people to be a part of the experience and evokes nostalgia, intimacy, and connection.

This identity began with the bare essentials, starting with the vintage-inspired logo and typefaces. Additionally, light beige was our color of choice with black as a secondary color to punctuate the warmth and timelessness of the brand. To complement this identity, we created a visual representation of San Diego’s diverse creative talent with a set of hand-drawn characters, which we update regularly to depict the growth of our community.

Bringing it to life

With the identity set, we determined the look and feel of the brand across its design system, from print to digital. Our team incorporated the brand elements into dinner collateral like invitations, menus, and name cards for a fully immersive experience. We also designed posters and apparel to allow community members to bring the intimacy of Crafted gatherings and galleries anywhere and join in solidarity with other guests.

ExperienceCrafted.com is an homage to the real people who make up our vibrant community, using their words and anecdotes as a foundation for our content and sprinkling in subtle interactions along the way to make the experience feel as tangible as possible. Each page is dedicated to a different facet of the Crafted experience. Interviews explore the captivating careers and personal lives of up-and-coming creators and tastemakers, and the Past Experiences page gives visitors an intimate glimpse at the conversations happening both at and away from the table.

Responding to tension

Without a brief to work from, we had full control over strategy, branding, design, and the experiences themselves, which forced us to think ambitiously throughout the process. With complete ownership came a bevy of responsibilities and difficulties.

There was mounting pressure to address the exclusivity of the dinner experiences, scale the initiative beyond the dinner table, shed light on the community without exploiting individual stories, and fit Crafted within the BASIC ecosystem—all of which we continue to work through on a daily basis.

These challenges shaped the initiative but also reinforced its strength and longevity within our community. With ample room for growth, the plan is to expand outside of San Diego and continue fostering collision in the unlikeliest of places.