CENTER and Suncare Brand Pavise Make Science Sexy
by Rudy Sanchez on 06/30/2023 | 4 Minute Read
A pavise, a full-body shield to protect archers and crossbowers, was developed for medieval warfare. While flinging arrows at an opposing force proved effective in the middle ages, reloading took time and put archers in a vulnerable position, and the pavise shield served as cover.
Pavise is also the name of a skin protection brand founded by Sophie Bai, an MIT alum with a biomedical engineering degree. At Pavise’s core is something they call Diamondcore Shield Technology.
DiamondCore is a zinc oxide molecule reinforced with diamonds that Pavise says is suitable for all skin types and provides longer wavelength protection from UVA, UVB, and visible light without leaving a white cast on any skin tone. Pavise wanted the branding and packaging to stand out among its competitors as much as its technology, and it turned to Brooklyn-based design company CENTER to create an identity that strays away from the sterile, minimal, lab-inspired tropes typically found in skincare.
“The brief was to build a brand completely from scratch in a way that's unique to sunscreen,” Alex Center, founder of CENTER, says. “For almost 100 years, sunscreen branding underwent different iterations and was originally meant to help you get a better tan—people like Coco Chanel were famous for their tans. So sunscreen was focused on getting a better bronze. Then in the late 90s, the damaging effects of the sun became more prevalent.”
“Pavise’s idea is to take the next great leap in sunscreen and sun protection,” Alex continues. “It's not just a brand that's meant for the beach—Pavise is for everyday use. It's based on Sophie's breakthroughs and technologies about being a daily shield built around the Diamondcore technology that prevents UVA and UVB light. Damage from sun exposure is one of the causes of premature skin aging.”
Rather than go with light pastels, neutral colors, or white, CENTER opts for iridescent crystal forms surrounded by bright, connected organic shapes set against black. The Dynamic Age Defense comes packaged in a premium box with a hinged, split top and black sleeve. The Amino Powerwash uses the same colorful approach and black sleeve but in a slimmer box. Meanwhile, Pavise’s lip blam foregoes the black sleeve and is a single-piece box, and the UV camera sensor for iPhones also uses a sleeve but in white, more in line with Apple devices and tech accessories.
“CENTER has a knack for color,” Alex says. “We talk a lot about what colors make sense for the brand, and we spent a lot of time looking at spectrums of UVA, UVB, visible light, and non-visible light to try to get to these colors.” Additionally, CENTER found inspiration in microscopic imagery, and they were excited by neon-like colors one can stumble upon in a lab setting.
"To me, it felt like it started to bridge the gap between science and beauty to fashion and luxury,” Alex adds.
CENTER also worked with Living Thing Studio to lend scientific authenticity to the visuals, and they created art around zinc oxide particles clustered around Pavise's nanodiamond core. Bai also worked with CENTER to help the team better visualize the science behind the sunscreen, sometimes busting out the whiteboard.
“We wanted to make science sexy," Alex says.
"We wanted skin protection to be something that could be both desired, but positioning sunscreen as a daily ritual,” he adds. “At the end of the day, we didn't want it to feel science adjacent or scientific for the sake of branding. We wanted it to be truthful to Sophie’s science and accurate to her research and work. Science is not necessarily always about the visuals, but I think when we saw some of Bai’s molecule PowerPoints, we were excited about how we could beautifully visualize them.”
Pavise launched in March of 2023 and has recently launched a billboard campaign in New York. You can find them online at Pavise.com.