You know how when you see something new and say, “Gee, I had that same idea. I could have done that.” But you didn’t? Most of us say that, but we never act on it. Meet Yo Santosa. When she puts her mind to doing something or filling a niche that hasn’t been filled, she goes for it.
Santosa, who has called Los Angeles home for 13 years, was born in Indonesia and raised in Singapore, before emigrating to the U.S. at age 17. She graduated from Art Center College of Design, just four years later. In 2006, she opened her branding agency Ferroconcrete, where she helped her first client, Pinkberry, grow from one store to a global brand with more than 200 stores worldwide.
She’s taken that branding expertise and created her own start-ups in vastly different categories. In 2013, she launched Commodity, a fragrance company with a mission to make fragrance personal (it has been featured in GQ, Fast Co., Esquire and W Magazine), and in September 2014, she founded and published the first issue of LA Downtowner, a cultural publication for Los Angelinos looking for fun, food, and fashion.
Here Santosa talks about her entrepreneurial drive and the realities of wearing so many hats at once.
What is the meaning behind the name of your agency?
Ferroconcrete is another term for reinforced concrete, which enabled the building of bridges and multiple-story buildings. It’s a metaphor for building brands into skyscrapers. But that’s the long answer. The short one; simply, I love concrete. Read the rest of the interview here.
If you haven’t yet watched “Abstract: The Art of Design,” which features eight extraordinary designers, practicing different disciplines, then set aside a day for an inspiring binge-watching experience. The making of the series is as complex and beautiful as the people portrayed. Executive producer Scott Dadich discusses the two-year journey to make the series, and reveals some of his favorite moments in the process.
While working on the series, Dadich was still deeply entrenched as the Editor and Creative Director of Wired magazine, which boomed under his leadership. He tripled the publication’s reach on social media and increased traffic to the website by 50 percent. Wired also earned ten Webby Awards, more than 50 Society of Publication Designers medals, a James Beard Foundation Award, and four National Magazine Awards for design. He recently left the magazine after more than a decade, to start Godfrey Dadich Partners with Patrick Godfrey.
Here, the bearded and bespectacled 40 year old talks candidly about the process of creating Abstract—from conception to delivery—and the delicate balance of filming people in their environment without disrupting the creative process. Read the interview here.
Aaron Draplin needs no fancy introduction in this part of the logo hemisphere. He has rocked the design world in the last year, surprising even skeptics, with his bestselling book Pretty Much Everything, which details his work and reveals much about himself–the man behind the big beard.
As a judge for this year’s LogoLounge competition, we wanted to catch up with him and get the highs and lows of his whirlwind book tour last fall, in which he visited 24 cities in seven weeks. And he’s going to do it all over this spring.
Give me a little background on this whirlwind tour … was it all for the book?
For the book…and for SURVIVAL. Well, mainly the book. Do graphic designers go on book tours? They do now. I wanted to take the whole story of the book to the people. I mean, why not? The book wasn’t supposed to happen in the first place, so why not tack on a 34-show, 7-week tour to the whole mess? And we did it, and, pulled it off with flying colors. All in an orange van. So proud of the whole thing.
When did you find time to actually work?
I didn’t have a lot of projects going on the tour. That freed up my nights. But when things popped up, I’d just work late in the hotel room. Or get up early and do a morning shift before we got rolling. Wherever you can find the time, you know? Might be at lunch, with my laptop open in some restaurant, suckin’ off their Wi-Fi to send a file.
John Fluevog has been crafting high quality, funky shoes for more than 46 years, yet he’s not a household name like Jimmy Choo, Jessica Simpson, or Steve Madden. Mainly because his shoes are not sold in department stores, and the designs are bizarrely unconventional. Let’s just say, when you wear a pair of Fluevogs, expect to get noticed. People either love them or they don’t know what to think of them, which is precisely what Mr. Fluevog has intended.
He’s kind of like the Tim Burton of the shoe design world. Like Burton’s films, Fluevog’s designs are colorful, over the top, and decidedly offbeat. He’ll never fit in, but that’s perfectly fine with him. It’s all part of his brand strategy. Fluevog has been creating “unique soles for unique souls” since 1970. The shoes aren’t just showstoppers though, they’re designed to last many, many years, constructed with high quality, eco-friendly materials. He lives his motto, “good soles leave small prints,” by specifying vegetable tanned leathers and water-based glues.
Fluevog’s mission is to bring his customers along for the fun and quirky ride. The Fluevog community, called “Flummunity,” encourages customers to submit shoe designs and create ads that reflect their own sentiments about the brand. There’s even a “Fluemarket” for buying and selling used Fluevogs. This brand strategy of involving his customers has paid off handsomely, as “Fluevogers” are repeat customers and tend to evangelize the brand mission. Every point of contact with the brand has been carefully curated from the online shopping experience, to the delivery of your product in a beautiful blue box, containing a custom shoe horn, Fluevog stickers, and sometimes a personal note from the person who shipped the shoes.
Here we talk to Fluevog about his brand’s unusual heritage, his inspirations, and staying ahead of design trends.
Did you have any training as a shoe designer?
I have been self-taught. I did not even take art in high school. In fact, I’m not sure I ever graduated from high school. I have never taken a shoe making course nor an art or design course, and have never done any post-secondary training. Art was not encouraged in my family. Music yes, art no. Read the interview here.
As a young, horny man living in his mother’s house in Milan, Italy, Matteo Bologna taught himself how to design type while on the phone with an annoying girlfriend. While she talked and complained and cried for hours on end, he toyed with the seductive curves and shapes of letterforms on his computer, and eventually broke up with the girl. He found typography to be much sexier. Besides, her pasta would never be as good as his mama’s.
Young Matteo’s love of typography only intensified when he started receiving The Type Director’s Club (TCD) annuals filled with designs by Louise Fili, Paula Scher, Seymour Chwast, and Charles S. Anderson. He copied and cajoled their work, and knew the only chance he had to really break into design was to move to New York City, which he did in 1994. Shortly thereafter, he formed Mucca and he landed a big break, designing the brand for a new French brasserie, Balthazar, which quickly became famous for its delectable breads, pastries, and pommes frites. The design community also took notice of Matteo for his exquisite handling of the restaurant’s identity. The rest, as they say, is history.
Here we talk to Matteo about the power of type in design and the ways in which he pushes it. Read the interview here.
Having lived and worked on both coasts, Jennifer Sterling knows a thing or two about cultural and political discourse in design. Her illustrative typographic renderings have produced praise and ignited loathsome critiques from her peers.
She experienced a profound backlash in the early 2000s for her design of the now infamous 2001 AIGA 365 Annual. No designer has ever taken such a public beating for their work as she did. And she never responded. Until now.
That catalog sent designers into a tizzy. Today, I doubt anyone would raise a brow. Sterling did what she did best: She created typographic and textural images to create meaningful discourse and showcase the work as it was meant to be seen. But, perhaps she was ahead of her time. People didn’t get it and the reaction was visceral and harsh. Today that book would be a precious keepsake, and anyone featured within would be honored.
It seemed as if Sterling—then in San Francisco—dropped out of the design world, only to re-emerge five years ago in New York. That’s not quite the case. She has continually worked, but she intentionally kept a low profile. She was never looking for the spotlight, but it found her in the ugliest of ways. Despite that, her love for design never wavered and she continued to work with clients like Adobe, Aveda, Gilbert Paper, Hillary Clinton, and more. Her work has been included in the permanent collections of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Library of Congress, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Museum Fur Kunst Und Gewerbe, Hamburg, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
Here, we talk to her about her passion for design and typography, and we let her have the final word on that book she designed more than 15 years ago. Read the interview here.
Whether he’s teaching, designing, or hitting the road on his motorcycle, Marc English never takes the prescribed route. No, he likes to distance himself from the tried and true, sticking to his gut instincts and following his muse.
English has become widely known in design circles as an eccentric with an appetite for adventure. He’s crisscrossed the U.S. on his Triumph Bonneville, meeting new people, sketching, speaking, and always searching for the best piece of pie. Here he talks about his journeys, people he’s met, things he’s seen, and his role in design.
What exactly are you up to these days?
For the last couple of years, I’ve been beating this expression into the ground, when folks ask what I’m up to: “As little as possible, and I don’t even start that till noon.” The truth is, I’m doing what I’ve been doing for the last thirty years: living life as best I can, with design and education paying the rent. Just more than a year ago, I was speaking at a conference in Palm Springs, and the name of my talk was “The Career I Never Wanted,” as I have never wanted to work for myself. Always wanted to work for someone older, smarter, more talented, that would take me under their wing. Life doesn’t always work the way you’d like, so I’ve had to suffer the consequences of my choices.
At the Boston HOW Conference of 1994, the late Gordon McKenzie, then creative director at Hallmark, spoke movingly about life in design, acknowledging the safest one can be is in an underground bunker with no windows or doors. I liken that to any number of dead-end design gigs — I’ll let the reader fill in the blanks as they see fit. On the other hand, Gordon said the most free one can be is in free-fall from an airplane without a parachute. I’d say that to a degree, I’ve been in the latter category, and after having my own gig for 23+ years, am lucky enough to have not yet hit ground. Before I hit, I’d like to find an equilibrium and halfway point between the two. Read the rest of the interview here.
If it seems like design darling Jessica Hische’s rapid ascent in the design world came easy, she’ll be the first to tell you that she worked her ass off to get where she is today, pulling all-nighters pursuing her passion. And she’s still kicking ass and taking numbers.
Known for her illustrative hand-lettering, Hische has worked for an impressive roster of clients including Starbucks, Wes Anderson, The New York Times, Target, Tiffany & Co., and Samsung. Last year she released her first book, In Progress, for Chronicle Books, which details her exacting process for drawing type. Part information, part inspiration, part eye candy, this is a fun romp through her sketchbook and how she approaches her projects.
Always one to share (or as she says, “over-share”) on her website, Hische offers great advice when it comes to creative burn-out, getting paid, and being productive. Here, we talk to her about her penchant for procrastination and how it’s actually benefited her over the years.
You’re a self-described procrastinator … in fact, you’ve coined the term “procrastiworking.” What does this mean, exactly and how bad are you?
To me, procrastiworking just means putting off the work you’re supposed to do by working on something else [that is also productive / challenging creatively]. It doesn’t always mean putting off work until the last minute—sometimes I procrastiwork by hopping around on different projects in a single day (when I start losing steam on one, I’ll work on another, assuming I don’t have an immediate impending deadline). Sometimes it means rearranging my schedule so that I can fit in passion projects. When I am really fired up about a personal project, I work on it during the work day, and work on client work in the evenings (because I know I HAVE TO stay up to finish it, because of a deadline, versus the personal work).
I do it quite a bit. But the thing that’s odd is that the more I do it the more productive I am. I’m probably more likely to hit a client deadline and make great work if I have bounced around on a lot of things in the process of getting there. Read the rest of the interview here.
In the past few years, a sexual revolution of sorts has been happening globally, with female designers leading the charge in developing beautiful and functional products in the adult toy industry, specifically for women. One of them is Ti Chang, cofounder and lead designer at Crave.
For decades, men were the primary product designers in this industry, and it showed. There seemed to be a catchall design in women’s products—large, pink vibrators that didn’t always deliver the punch they promised. The designers overlooked one vital point: All women do not derive pleasure the same way. There was also a shameful stigma attached to the purchase of such products, which were usually sold at seedy adult toy stores.
Thankfully, the landscape has shifted tremendously, with women leading the way. They are designing better products made with safer and more comfortable materials, sold at retail and online shops that are now socially acceptable for women to peruse. Here we talk to Chang about how she and her business partner sold their first Crave product via Crowdfunding, and her journey into designing pleasure products for women.
Chang studied industrial design at Georgia Institute of Technology where she received her BS, and she earned a Masters in Design Products from Royal College of Art in London. She worked with large consumer brands such as Goody and Trek, designing the Ouchless Hairbrush for the former, and a tandem bicycle for the latter, among other things.
What inspired/motivated you to design intimate products for women?
There has been such a dearth of well-designed products for women, not just in sex toys but in general consumer products, and I decided that I wanted to help change that. Women should not have to put up with bad sex toys. Read the rest of the interview here.
If you know anything about Robynne Raye, you know that she’s outspoken, passionate, and a fierce advocate in the design community. As cofounder of the now legendary design studio, Modern Dog, her poster designs have been regularly lauded in industry publications, and the firm’s tongue-in-cheek package designs for Blue Q (among other clients), put them in an enviable position among their peers. For more than 25 years, Modern Dog was at the top of their game.
Then from 2011 to 2013, Robynne and her partner, Michael Strassburger, became embroiled in a copyright infringement case against Disney and Target. It nearly bankrupted them financially, and broke them spiritually. (You can read about the case in Robynne’s own words, here and here.) Fortunately, they persevered and the big corporations settled, but the firm was fractured and displaced, and Robynne and Mike were exhausted. Although Modern Dog still exists, it’s now a part-time venture for the principals, who have since taken on new roles. Read the rest of the article here.