Alexander Rose

good design is good business

NEW coffee cups for The Hobbit

author philippa

We’re happy to clear up the mystery as to what the cast and crew of the new Hobbit films – currently in production here in New Zealand – are drinking their Caffe L’affare coffee from… these delightful and very environmentally-friendly cups that we designed especially for the production.

Featuring 4 illustrations from the very talented Donna Cross, each cup has a ‘tag’ that can be customised with the drinkers name and coffee preferences. Perfect for the crew member who is sent on the coffee run armed with a long list of names and must remember that Gandalf takes two sugars in his soy mochaccino*.

* We’re not sure that that’s really how Gandalf has his coffee. We like to imagine him as more of a ‘flat white with one sugar’ kind of a wizard.

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May the 4th be with you

author philippa

May the 4th be with you

A lady doesn’t like to reveal her age. However, here at Alexander Rose, most of us are children of the 70′s/80′s and as such like to insert Star Wars references into our lives wherever we are able. So May the 4th be with you everybody!

Talk is cheap and invaluable

author philippa

Alexander Rose has recently been running focus groups for several of our clients. It’s been a great reminder to us to every now and then, to just breathe, take a step back, and actually talk to the people that really matter… the people that buy (or don’t buy) your products and services.

And yes, we do mean talk. Face to face and one on one.

Of course you can glean fascinating data about your audience through large written, online or phone surveys. We also value this information highly. It’s extremely useful for identifying patterns and  trends in consumer behaviour. However, nothing truly beats a face to face conversation with a real person.

Firstly, it’s very easy for people to answer questions in a written survey in the way that they think they should be answered (go on, admit it, we’ve all done it!). It’s much more likely that a person will give a truly up-front response when speaking face to face.

Written surveys also miss out a myriad of important responses; body language, facial expressions, recognition from other group members, tone of voice, and expression of a whole range of emotions from indifference, to passion, to uproarious laughter.

Additionally, people LOVE being asked their opinion. A well-run group is a great way for your customers to know that they are both valued and valuable to you. Sure, it’s a small group of people, however they will tell their friends about a positive experience. We often get people contacting us days after we’ve run a group to tell us ‘just one more thing’ that they’ve thought about. Now that’s the kind of customer dedication that any Brand Manager worth their salt will love.

Here are our top tips for running a successful focus group:

  1. Keep it small. 15 people max. Any more than this and there will naturally be people that don’t get their voices heard. We want to hear everyone’s opinion – not just the loudest voice.
  2. Keep it short. Identify the most important questions that you need answers to and make sure the discussion doesn’t run longer than 2 hours.
  3. Keep it open. There should be no-one present from the brand that you are discussing. Nobody wants to criticise the person who’s responsible for making a product. Receiving frank criticism is vital to maintaining a responsive brand.
  4. Keep it flexible. A well-managed tangent can give you answers to questions that you didn’t even know you had.
  5. Keep it fed. Naturally the most convenient time to run focus groups is often at the end of the working day. Providing good drinks and delicious food is greatly appreciated and keeps concentration levels up.

We’re big advocates of talking to real people to keep your brand, product or service on track and relevant to the people that really matter… your customers. A well-run focus group needn’t be expensive and the insight that you gain from talking to real people will be invaluable to your business.

Our thoughts are with Christchurch

author philippa

We’re shocked by the 6.3 earthquake that struck the city of Christchurch week. I was born in Christchurch. I can only begin to imagine how people are coping right now – especially those with young children and those that have missing or deceased loved-ones.

In the coming months once the initial shock has subsided, I hope that the people of Christchurch find some comfort by how the rest of New Zealand is rallying around them. Seeing people reach out to each other certainly seems to be one of the only ‘good’ things to come out of this cruel event. Yesterday in Wigan Street I watched as an army of volunteers packed a truck full of donated goods, ready to cross the Cook Straight. Hopefully this will make an impact at relief centers with much-needed necessities like buckets and nappies.

Every person and business in Wellington seems to be devising ingenious ways to raise funds for the relief effort, or to offer help by any means possible. From the pizza eating competition at Heaven Pizza, to Real Groovy donating a proportion of this coming Saturday’s takings, to residents offering spare beds to stranded tourists – everyone is determined to help in any way they can.

We hope we’re doing our bit by helping some businesses to promote their fundraising efforts. Caffe L’affare is donating 100% of this Sunday’s takings. We’re helping them by producing posters, POS, flyers and promoting the event through social media channels. We know that this event will raise a significant amount of money from generous Wellingtonians.

If you’re in Wellington make sure you get yourself down to College Street on Sunday! Every cent you spend will go directly to the relief effort in Christchurch. And if you can’t make it and would still like to help, please make a donation through Red Cross New Zealand.

UPDATE: We’re thrilled to announce that $18,000 was raised at the Caffe L’affare event. Every single cent will go towards helping the people of Christchurch – well done Wellington!

Design Heroes: Robin Day (1915 – 2010)

author philippa

Robin Day polypropylene chair

We were saddened this week to learn that one of our all-time design heroes, Robin Day, passed away earlier this month. Maybe he couldn’t live without his recently departed – and every bit as exceptional – wife, Lucienne (we’ll dedicate a separate story to her textile design later). Even though most of our design work is primarily graphics based, we pull our influences from all spheres of art and design. We’re big fans of Days mid-century furniture design.

It’s a mark of a truly great designer when their work has mass acceptance and achieves longevity. Designed in 1962, an astonishing 50 million units have been produced of Days polypropylene (then a new material) chair. Stackable, modern and cheap, the chair was snapped up by schools, restaurants and airports. His designs still look as fresh and contemporary today, as they must have looked revolutionary then.

Days sparing use of materials was reflective of an economical Post-war Britain. His furniture design often relied on using as few components as possible. This approach put him years ahead of our seemingly recent ethical focus on minimising waste and excess materials.

More recently a new generation was introduced to Day’s furniture design when British interiors chain Habitat reissued some of his designs.

We love his modernist aesthetic. He has (pardon the pun) taken his seat alongside Jacobsen, Eames and Bertoia as a true icon of furniture design. From inside the classroom through to British landmarks – including the wonderful Barbican Centre in London – his design lives on with us everyday.

Robin & Lucienne Day

Robin Day stackable polypropylene chair

Habitat chair

(Images sourced from The Design Museum and Habitat)

New work: Caffe L’affare gift box

author philippa

Arriving in plenty of time for Christmas, we’re thrilled with how these gift boxes have turned out. Alexander Rose designed these for one of the biggest fresh coffee companies in New Zealand, Caffe L’affare.

Screen printed in 3 colours (black, cream and a specially mixed red ink) on manila box board, we can’t wait to see these packed with bags of fresh coffee and other goodies. Make sure you check out the image of the bottom of the box… there’s plenty of reading material all printed in lovely cream ink. These will be available to purchase shortly from

Result? The client is happy, and so are we!

Less is more: minimal graffiti

author darren

Editing is our friend.

Whenever we create work for a client, we take time to evaluate how to most effectively communicate to our clients audience. Often this means going through a thorough refining process which leaves key messages room to deliver their story with impact.

This is an approach clearly shared with fantastic graffiti artist, CT from Torino.

Working within an art form that’s not usually associated with minimalism, CT has created some beautiful work that is more akin with corporate branding than a tag scrawled across someone’s wall.

You can see more of his work here


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  • NEW CLIENT Air New Zealand
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  • NEW coffee cups for The Hobbit
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  • Talk is cheap and invaluable
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