Full disclosure, USN is a bodybuilding supplement that advertises in our magazine. Now I’ve never actually had a sip of the stuff, or any other protein-shake for that matter, but I need only crane my pencil-neck to spot an ubiquitous tub on one of my colleague’s desks.

Something that I’ve noticed in my three-year stint at Men’s Health is that USN is no longer the only contender in the race to make you swole. Supplements are now a highly competitive market. Which is probably why USN just roped in a man that has been spotting me ever since we did all the shots at the Loerie Awards in Margate, Mr. Shaun Bond.

(Full disclosure: I’m not in advertising, never have been, but I’m happy to party like a ’90s ad-lad given half the chance.)

Anyway, Shaun’s new company, North – an agency based in Cape Town and specialising in brand identity, advertising, editorial and spatial design – created an office space design and build in Stellenbosch for USN.

Now Shaun has done a bunch of different things, most recently Franc, but now he considers himself all grown up and with the help of his brother and brother-in-law, has started NORTH, which is driven by “a desire to create clear, crafted and relevant solutions for clients realised through a process of investigation and analysis.” In other words, they do cool shit.

USN Goes North

What was the brief that USN gave you?
A super bright lady, Irene Scholtz, contacted NORTH with a blank canvas and a plan to uplift the brand from its archaic way of thinking to a more cutting edge and happier environment to work in. USN is supposed to be this cutting edge product, so we tried to work the same into the space with a concept that reflects innovation within the environment. Clean lines, simplicity throughout, modern touch points and a new way of thinking was the idea behind all materials used.

How hands-on are you, and is it rewarding picking up a hammer after pushing a pen all day?
I tried not to be, but with a deadline and the difficult circumstances at hand, there was no other choice. It’s incredibly rewarding lending a hand, especially when you have a team as awesome as we did. Special mention to Dean Westmore here.

What is good design?
For me, it’s anything that’s new and challenges. Mostly it’s a matter of opinion though…

What’s in desperate need of a redesign?
The USN brand. To be honest and to the point above, I suppose anything is in need of a re-design… according to ones opinion.

You have quite a rig, what’s your secret?
Kids and muscle memory.

Did working on USN inspire you to start necking protein shakes and gyming?
Hell no. In fact, the opposite. In all seriousness, it challenged us to be more innovative on the next NORTH job.

USN Goes North