Getting Corporate Brands High with Tommaso Bordonaro

By David Jenison on August 21, 2018

Tommaso Bordonaro famously reimagines business logos in hilarious ways, but the Italian designer also has loads of fun crafting mashups of corporate branding and prohibited substances. For example, he utilized lines of coke to recreate the Netflix logo and an American Express barcode, and turned the TripAdvisor owl into a tab of acid. Still, his substance of choice as a designer appears to be cannabis, which Bordonaro worked into several designs, from a Chanel perfume to a high-flying airliner. PRØHBTD spoke with Bordonaro about cannabis branding, the Michelangelo condom and what coke and Coke have in common.

What do your designs communicate about the modern state of corporations and branding?

Just that their impact on our lives is so big. We shouldn't give them so much importance. I just enjoy trying to get some [importance] away from them.

When it comes to rebranding corporate logos, what was the piece that convinced you this was a creative direction you need for pursue further?

Probably the coke piece.

What about the coke piece really inspired you?

What fascinates me is the diffusion and popularity that coke has, whether it's the beverage or the substance. I recently visited Vietnam, and I found Coca-Cola in some of the most isolated villages you could imagine. To a certain extent, you can say the same about cocaine, you just need to know where to look. I find it interesting that they both can be called the same way.

RHAZE is one of the few images that includes a specific written message, "NO TO RACISM," accompanied by one white and one brown joint. Are you calling attention to the racial disparity that occurs with cannabis-related arrests, or did you have a different message in mind?

It certainly can be read like that. It's an ironic take on a discussion that is too stupid to be discussed. It basically means that inside we are all the same color.

The Secret Room has a different look and style than most of your Instagram feed. Why the different approach, and does it reflect a style of art you're also creating but not sharing as often on social media?

Yes, I actually made several Disney-themed drawings, and I will probably share more in the future.

What does The Secret Room say about the commercialization of cannabis?

Nothing. I just always thought Uncle Scrooge was secretly a stoner. That's why you don't see him too often.

Dream Big shows a cigarette looking in a mirror and seeing a cannabis joint. For this particular image, who is dreaming, the cigarette or the joint, and does the image suggest a specific dream?

The cigarette certainly dreams to be a joint. The opposite would be a nightmare.

What recommendations would you give the modern cannabis industry in terms of branding and marketing their products?

Not much, since I'm working with a brand in that industry. Just to treat the subject seriously. It's a discussion that is often underestimated, but in this moment and time, business-wise, the potential is huge.

Which cannabis brand are you working with right now, and what types of designs are they having you do?

The brand's called The Secret Pot, and as the name hints, I can't say much more, just that it will launch in Europe in a couple of months. It's more about the actual packaging and design of the product—I am curating the art direction of the brand.

In what ways does cannabis help or hurt your creativity?

I'd say it doesn't help or hurt, it just relaxes me. Some people relax having a good tea, others smoking a joint. I definitely fall in the second category.

The (Not) Creation of Adam is so good it should be the packaging for a condom company. Is it?

Thanks. No, but it would be great. If you know somebody, hook me up.

DUMMY features Donald Trump's body and face on a free-standing heavy bag. Did you receive any angry emails for this image?

I did receive a couple [messages] asking me to take it off. I actually think any reaction is good, but sometimes you are just glad you got under somebody's skin.

Donald Trump has many nicknames in the U.S. media. As an Italian, what do you think of the nickname the Mango Mussolini?

I've never heard that nickname, but I have to admit it fits perfectly. It's the mango part that worries me though. We are severely underestimating the guy in my opinion.

Why does the "mango" part of the Mango Mussolini worry you?

Mango juxtaposed to Mussolini gives a lightness to the entire thing. In the same exact way, most of the media, at least internationally, treats the guy with that same lightness. The irony is that his tan and his mannerisms are making more news than his decisions, and that is pretty scary to me. We are easily forgetting that the guy is officially the most, if not the second most, powerful person of this planet.

Can you tell me about your background as an artist and designer?

I have no particular background—I just always loved drawing and building stuff. I'm currently getting my degree in architecture and working as an art director in Milan.

What best describes your worldview and the ideas you hope to communicate through your art?

This question is way too big for me. The best thing that describes my worldview is that I still have trouble organizing my day. It's not so much about the ideas [as] those often change. What I hope is to generate a reaction. And not necessarily a good one.

David Jenison ( is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.

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