Late last year I had to pleasure of interviewing Danny, Marieke and Erwin of Experimental Jetset. Founded in 1997 and based in Amsterdam, Experimental Jetset is one of the most exciting and highly regarded studios working today. They create exceptionally beautiful work; immediately recognizable for its top notch quality and unique remixing of modernist principles and stylings. Their global renown continues to soar– most recently thanks to their part in Helvetica and the extreme popularity of their (now re-released) John&Paul&Ringo&George shirts.
A quick perusal of their website can easily turn into hours as you browse through their catalog of work and read their comprehensive descriptions of each project. In these descriptions, and especially in interviews, the depth of their reflection is astounding. They take great care to consider every perspective — whether it be a report of one of their own projects, or an answer to a seemingly basic interview prompt — their ability to discuss Design and work is as remarkable as it is fascinating. What follows is our discussion from November 2009. Enjoy!
I did an interview for the excellent Grain Edit blog recently and they’ve posted it up today. We covered a lot of ground from coffee shops and design to music production. There’s also a couple bonus shots of the studio in there. Check it out at the link below.
I did an interview with Norway National Radio while I was there last week. It’s brief and you’ll have to speak Norwegian to understand most of it. They seemed to focus in on the political aspects of our conversation, most of the questions centered around the role of graphic design in American politics in the wake of the 2008 elections. Also, I had a cold so that’s why I sound like I just inhaled 3 packs of Camels.
Non-Format is one of the most exciting studios working today. Comprised of Kjell Ekhorn (Norwegian) and Jon Forss (British), Non-Format is known for an exceptionally innovative approach to typography and a fresh, boundary-smashing graphic style. Clients such as Nike, Coca Cola and The New York Times have all tapped the studio’s award winning and internationally acclaimed design talent. Operating on two continents, Non-Format is based in Oslo, Norway and Minneapolis, USA.
One of my first assignments at design school was to bring in some books that I found inspiring. As I had just started the program, I didn’t really have much to show for myself, and I distinctly remember arriving that day to see that around 3/4 of the class had all brought the same book: Non-Format’s Love Song. The extent of their influence on the field of design became immediately clear to me. Since then I’ve kept a close watch on the studio and am always excited to see what they’ve been working on. Recently I had the privilege of interviewing Jon and Kjell and our exchange is after the jump.
Dave (of the fantastic Grain Edit) spoke to Katie and Joel for Part II of our Hatch interview series. They talk in detail about the JAQK design process and look at a lot of early visual directions for the brand. Further proof of the innovative work the crew over at Hatch is doing. Check out Parts I and II of the interview.
Hatch is a San Francisco design firm founded by Joel Templin and Katie Jain. Since its inception in 2007, Hatch has developed innovative campaigns for some of the world’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola, Apple, and Target. They are known not only for their exceptional work, but also their distinctive business model, which allows them to be a launch pad for their own products. Most recently, Hatch was at the World Series of Poker promoting their first “hatchling”, JAQK Cellars.
I had the chance to sit down with Joel and Katie last week to discuss their work, process, and the recent goings on over at Hatch. With the launch of their new website and the success of JAQK, and they have their hands full! Check out the interview after the jump.
Be sure to check out Part Two of this interview over on Grain Edit!
I’ve always loved the artist series over at Hillman Curtis. Very well produced and put together films; my only complaint is that they are so few and far between. Scott’s recent post reminded me to go back and watch this one on Milton Glaser. I love hearing design heavyweights like him talk about the big issues in design. As far as I know, he still teaches at SVA occasionally—how fascinating it must be to have him as a teacher!
So, you started Dwell Magazine in Oct. 2000 but your first full length as Hatchback was put out in Sept. 2008, I have a feeling you’ve had this album in you for awhile now but i’m sure Dwell takes up most of your day?
Right. Being the editor-in-chief of any magazine is time consuming, but with Dwell, I’m also working on our website, our conference, various brand extensions, and so on, so that keeps me fairly busy. Hatchback and Windsurf are what I like to do in my down time—mostly weekends, late nights. Sometimes I wish I could have a little more flexibility, for instance, I could wake up and say, ok, this morning I want to play Rhodes for an hour and then record a drum track, and then I’ll go to work. That would be ideal.
Can you list off 3 of your favorite pieces of furniture and 3 favorite instruments and one of each that you personally own? This list is pretty arbitrary, it would probably change tomorrow, but here:
Ultima Thule by Tapio Wirkkala, a 30 meter long sculpture of laminated plywood carved to look like a wind-blown glacial ice field made for the Finnish Pavilion of Expo 67.
The Sausage Chair by Nana Ditzel, mmm… sausage.
High Back Alcove Sofa by Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec, this piece has an Empire Strikes Back quality which I admire.
Roland Jupiter 8, they don’t make synths this sexy anymore.
Synthi AKS, I got to play with one of these once, I had no idea what I was doing, but it sure was fun.
Fender Rhodes, the creamy keys. Every song I really dig tends to have some Rhodes on it.
My favorite furniture I own is probably my Bertoia Bird Chair and my favorite instrument is the Korg MS-20
Does Dwell ever feature or use music on any level? Not really. Every now and then we’ll feature a home where the resident is a musician. I was able to include a rhythm ace drum machine in a caption once.
Who did the Hatchback album cover? Do you feel like the cover best describes your sound and does it seep into a design style that you like as well?
The design firm Non-Format did the cover for my album, and most of the Lo Catalog. They’re really talented graphic designers and certainly great typographers. I had envisioned something a little more handmade originally, and perhaps inspired by folk art from India or Mexico or pornographic sci-fi like Boris Vallejo, but ultimately I really dig what they did.
I think your sound is the future of slower tempo music with depth that can be listened to by a broad crowd, could you share who got you into this type of music? And maybe suggest a few records to ease someone new to your sound into it. I’m not really sure what style my music is honestly. Maybe I’m not a good marketer, but I tend not to think in genres or that I should make a slower trac or faster trackk. That said, I tend to listen to older albums and soundtracks—I’m usually the last to know about really good new music.
I think Vangelis’ Bladerunner soundtrack continues to have a huge influence one me. The synthesizers on that are so on point, and the songs have a really emotive quality. Its pretty much as genius as it comes. You should also check out the Bilitis soundtrack by Francis Lai and La Planete Sauvage by Alain Goraguer.
Can you go thru for us a busy day that would have you working on both Hatchback and Dwell? Dwell: 9 am – 7:30 pm Hatchback: 10pm-4am
If I had a best songs of 21st century list going i’d seriously include “Everything Is New”, do you ever share any of the music at the Dwell offices? Wow. Thanks! Yeah, the designers have all my older jams and keep threatening to release a bootleg one of these days.
What plans do you have for Dwell in 2009? Any style architecture that we should be looking into? We try not to espouse style per se. We’re more interested in the timeless quality of modern design and the relationship between a building and its context—how does a place influence the architecture and how does architecture influence a place. Right now, green design is coming of age and really becoming mainstream—but the best green ideas are often timeless notions of building that have either been maligned or ignored by trends of the last 100 years, things like solar orientation and natural ventilation. These are things we need to re-learn fast, and couple with emerging technologies. Buildings, not cars or anything else, are the biggest contributor to green house gases and consume roughly 70% of the energy in this country, so its going to be critical that architecture addresses the environment above all else.
As you’re going into your 9th year with Dwell, what directions have you taken the company that you never thought you’d be doing but your glad you did? Well, when I started as the editorial assistant (a job I found on craigslist in 2000) I never dreamed that 7 years later I’d be the editor-in-chief. I’m really proud of the magazine we make and just want to keep the quality level high and the content interesting while having it be an entertaining read.
Is Hatchback available for a Tycho remix? I’m sure we’d all love to hear that. I’m up for it. I just might have to take the day off.