Crush Design + Art Direction

By Tk Published on .

Carl Rush, who heads up the small but growing five-year-old British design company Crush (the newly in-house-redesigned website is at has a great aesthetic philosophy: "Do great work; enjoy; get paid; go to the pub. " The pub will be in the seaside town of Brighton these days - he moved there after three years in London, when his daughter was born - but he calls Brighton "a very cool city," and the 34-year-old Rush clearly has no trouble keeping his finger on the pulse of youth culture. Indeed, it's pop music/youth culture design that's propelling Crush into a bigger international realm. Besides adding three designers to what started as a one-man shop, Crush has recently begun making moves on more mainstream clients, particularly Heineken. The "Thirst" project is Heineken's first major move on the club/dance scene, says Rush - a global tour headlined by superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold, featuring worldwide competitions in which aspiring DJs vie to spin alongside the master.

"Our expertise in the music industry and with youth culture was most certainly one of the factors" in winning this gig, says Rush. "Not only did we know the dance scene, we'd lived it." Crush designed everything from the logos to the ads for the "Thirst" competitions, building an online style guide that is used as a template for creative teams at agencies across the globe as the tour makes its rounds, the online "tool kit" being updated as various iterations of the projected four-year campaign unfold. "The Heineken job was a great breakthrough for us in terms of moving away from straight graphics and heading toward more of the conceptual and advertising disciplines," Rush muses. "Heineken is blurring the boundaries between advertising and design, and this highlights how smaller specialized design companies are increasingly being asked to take over the role of corporate advertising companies."

Next on the agenda, Crush has just completed the first part of a job for Glenfiddich marketer William Grant & Sons for a new spirits-based drink with what Rush calls an "Indian heritage and vibe. We came up with the name, the taste, the packaging and the advertising concept," he notes, though the project was still under wraps at press time. "This is certainly the direction I would like the work to move toward - credible youth-oriented design briefs for larger corporate companies." Crush has also designed a book called CD Art: The Cutting Edge of CD Packaging, to be published by RotoVision next month. "And we're setting up a Crush fashion wing, so we'll be selling T-shirts for adults, children and dogs," he casually notes.

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