Jellymon's Lin Lin has become something of an expert on Shanghai and Beijing's creative scenes. Her assessment of the two? "One is serious and one is more cheeky!"

"One is serious and one is more cheeky - one's like a fun girlfriend, easy to love and very sexy. Then there's this quite hardcore woman who demands so much and tells you you're not good enough, but you still can't wait to please her."

Lin Lin, co-founder of multidisciplinary design studio Jellymon, smiles, pleased with her analogy for the creative challenges and environments of Shanghai and Beijing respectively. She should know: after opening up an office in the capital two years ago, Lin Lin now divides her time between the two cities, and has become a creative cornerstone of each.

The Jellymon story stretches back a decade, when Lin Lin met Sam Jacobs whilst studying at London's Chelsea College of Art and Design. A collaboration for a 2003 final year project led to stints designing for the likes of television channel E4, various music labels and toy manufacturers Kidrobot. The pair then fatefully came to Shanghai, fell in love with the city's vibrancy and opportunity and opened Bund-side street art gallery Da>Space. Although the gallery has since closed, it proved a savvy networking move, and Lin Lin and Sam quickly became immersed in the various strands of Shanghai's creative community. In 2006 with a host of contacts to call upon, the pair set up Jellymon in Shanghai and focused on what they do best: designing.

Jellymon designed the interiors for Fish Eye Cafe in Beijing's Sanlitun Village

An early project establishing the creative direction for Chinese clothing brand eno got Jellymon noticed: '3/3 Art by Us, Them and You' saw the then fledgling brand team up with renowned artists musicians and designers. Although far from typecast, Jellymon began getting approached by sportswear labels including Nike, Adidas and Kappa, all looking to inject a bit of that trademark Jellymon flair into their campaigns.

"Sportswear is how we started and continued - basically bring some authenticity to something quite commercial", recalls Lin Lin.

The pair still found time for independent projects, the best known of which is perhaps their collaboration with Shanghai Watch Company and Wieden+Kennedy back in 2008.

"There's a consistency in our creative projects in that we're always trying to put in our own vision of where we are - for our project with Uniqlo, for example, the graphics were based on Shanghainese dialect, and it was the same with Shanghai watches. On the back there was a Shanghainese swear word and three of the designs that we did were based on the water dividing the two halves of the city. Another had the Chinese way of counting numbers with hand signals", Lin explains.

Their latest project, too, is similarly grounded in Chinese culture but with a fresh Jellymon twist. adidas NEO LABEL approached the agency for a means to convey the energy, accessibility and attitude of the new line in a voice relevant to China's youth. Jellymon came up with print, outdoor and retail spaces solutions, as well as web videos, all based on everyday Chinese park games with contemporary twists.

"NEO wanted to connect with a young audience, so we dug down to Chinese heritage and pop culture to resonate with the target audience," explains Lin Lin. "We chose to position the brand in a setting that was familiar and accessible to all Chinese, regardless of sex and income level. Then with NEO at the centre we gave these Chinese games new twists, presenting a contemporary reinterpretation that's relevant to our audience."

Like almost all of Jellymon's projects, the nationwide campaign oozes fun, and will no doubt inspire many a game of jianzi in parks across China this summer. More significant, though, is the fact that a multinational like Adidas chose a youthful, playful and local agency to communicate their brand to a Chinese audience. It's great news for Jellymon and reflective of their gradual but considered growth.

Jellymon's campaign for adidas' NEO LABEL

"We've been expanding, very slowly and organic - we have the digital side, which will be Josh, the creative which Sam is leading and then me leading the strategic team in Beijing. Previously, we were seen as just a design team, but now we're a small creative agency - we do above and below the line advertising, events, digital, viral, strategy, platforms, and of course our own projects too".

Jellymon's campaigns have repeatedly succeeded in attracting the fickle, puzzling and eminently desirable powerhouse that is China's 18 - 35 year old youth. What's their secret? "Well that's how we started, as college kids... Do you know, the other day someone asked me what is beauty is, and to me, it's anything that dies young - you capture it, then it's gone. The projects that we've been doing have all been about capturing that beautiful moment of being a young person in a young country. There's a lot of authenticity in our work, and a lot comes from what we like and gut feeling".

Whatever it is, Jellymon have once again worked their rainbow-coloured magic for adidas NEO LABEL. Head to a store and take a look for yourself: it's smart, summery and fun, and will have you reaching for a jump rope in no time.


For further information, visit Jellymon's website here and the view their adidas NEO LABEL videos click here if you have a VPN, or here if not.

Frances Arnold

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