Darren Romanelli is an innovator and designer based out of Los Angeles. Having worked with brands such as Hurley, Nike, Converse, and the Looney Tunes, Romanelli’s team carves out a reconstructed, revamped look and feel from iconic brands and characters. Crafted under the guise of his creative alter-ego, DRx, Romanelli’s unique redesigns of household names have in turn made the DRx label somewhat iconic. Among his many individual and collaborative projects, Romanelli also serves as founder and director of Blank You Very Much (BYVM), a crowd-sourced design platform that incorporates a large community of graphic designers, artists, and fans to rebrand big-name labels such as Burton, Coca-Cola, and HUF. Romanelli gives us some insight into sources of inspiration for his team’s hybridized design methodology.
Is your brand name and imagery a metaphor for your focus on reconstructing old brands and designs?
Yes, the core of DRx is the idea of breathing new life into old designs, performing surgery on classic products, and resurrecting vintage trends, etc.
The DRx brand appears with clothing, furniture, accessories, web design, and even music. Do you prefer to specialize in anything in particular?
If I had to pick a particular medium, it would be fashion. It’s such a personal element to one’s being. Being able to curate and construct unique pieces that function as a secondary skin is very appealing to me.
What gives you the appealing edge over other artists?
There is not just a single component to what I do creatively. Maybe it’s the wide array of elements that I bring into every project. First and foremost product design, then there’s my agency, which integrates a strategic marketing sense to how I execute projects; and of course, storytelling is something I’m passionate about.
How do you customize a collection? Who is your intended audience and consumer?
I define customizing as personalizing. There is a customization-personalization intersection in everything I do, a truly custom-tailored approach for the audience I cater to, and there is definitely a bespoke quality in DRx projects. Whether it’s a brand that the agency is working with or a vintage garment I’m reconstructing, we’re embracing the idea of stripping them down to their core and performing surgery via bringing them back to life with a contemporary spin.
The audience is different every time, but if I have to pick an audience, it would be male, 18 to 30.
You were inspired in design during your college years, scouring thrift stores in Eugene, Oregon. Now you’re based in Los Angeles. How have the places you have lived inspired your creativity?
The environment plays a major role in inspiring one’s creativity. The space that you surround yourself with has a big impact on how you approach projects.
So for instance, growing up in LA, it’s such an amazing city because on one hand you’re so close to the water, and on the other hand you’re close to the mountains; and the city is right there as well, so you have a little bit of everything. However, it is so congested and claustrophobic here. Escaping to Oregon to attend university was such a blessing, because I got to experience nature in an environment that also had water and mountains but without the big city, which gave me a chance to decompress for four years and really connect with a different side of myself. Then coming back to LA after four years, I was really able to appreciate my home much more.
From 1999 til present day, I have spent a lot of my time traveling. I usually go to Europe and Asia once or twice a year. I try to get away on a mountain trip via Alaska, New Mexico, Colorado, Mammoth, etc. It’s so important for me to get out of LA and experience that “nature high,” and bring that creativity and emotion into my projects.
Moving onto Blank You Very Much, BYVM has worked with some big names: Pelé, KRINK, HUF and now Burton. What do you think these brands gain from having their assets and identity re-envisioned by the BYVM community?
Brands gain a fresh outlook and a unique perspective on their DNA. It allows them to realize something that may never have been realized via their internal creative team. It also gives the fans the opportunity to inject what they want to see into that particular brand.
What aspect of BYVM¹s style do you think attracts its range of partnerships?
It’s the energy we’ve invested as an agency over a year that has attracted a really solid array of designers and creators. Community is everything, and we’ve worked diligently to create an incredible community. If you compare BYVM to other crowd-sourcing platforms, the quality of the designs are really incredible.
You’re also a new father. How do you have time for all this?
My girls are a big source of inspiration for me. I have no idea how I make time for everything. I just take the approach, “One day at a time.”
Do you and BYVM have any interest in doing a new spin on old surf-related apparel and design?
Yes, of course. The surf sector is something we’re very interested in as a company. Especially classic surf photography, e.g. LeRoy Grannis.
Who’s your ideal candidate to be “blanked?”
Chuck Taylor shoe, Apple, New York Knicks.
Darren can be found all around the web:
DRx Blog: http://drromanelli.com/blog
DRx Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DRxRomanelli
DRx Twitter: https://twitter.com/drxromanelli
DRx Instagram: http://instagram.com/drxromanelli
BYVM site: http://www.blankyouverymuch.com/
BYVM blog: http://www.blankyouverymuch.com/blog/
BYVM Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blankyouverymuch
BYVM Twitter: https://twitter.com/blankyouvm