'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir

'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir

for more than 20 years, trond greve andersen and mats andersen have been making truly original artwork. the duo are the founders of mir, the visualization studio responsible for creating iconic architectural images for ricardo bofill, kengo kuma & associates, and david chipperfield architects, among many, many others. ‘for an image to truly have impact, it needs to look different than anything else out there,’ trond greve andersen and mats andersen tell designboom. ‘despite common beliefs, most architects are bound by convention and afraid to take risks. this means that truly effective images are outside most architects’ comfort zone. our goal is to make the brave architects into stars.’

visualization studio mir interview
concept illustration for a masterplan project designed by rafael viñoly architects
top image: a competition proposal for a hotel designed by jensen & skodvin

 

 

based in bergen, a norwegian city surrounded by mountains and fjords, mir continually strives to reinvent the documentation of our unbuilt world. ‘we think of our images more like emotions than stories; like a song without lyrics,’ the duo continue. ‘the idea of a story implies that you have something to tell, which we don’t have — we have something to show.’ to learn more about the studio’s approach, designboom speaks with trond greve andersen and mats andersen, who discuss the studio’s origins, the importance of trust, and their strangest ever request… read the interview in full below.

visualization studio mir interview
the whale museum designed by dorte mandrup
read more about the project on designboom here

 

 

designboom (DB): can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and how you became involved in the world of architectural visualization?

 

trond greve andersen and mats andersen (TGA+MA): we met at art school. two nerds. one day mats came to trond and said: ‘you will not believe what you are about to see!’ he had spent his entire scholarship and a bank loan to buy a dual processor computer. what he wanted to show was an 800 pixels wide render of water being poured into a glass. a couple months later mir was born.

visualization studio mir interview
the living coral biobank designed by contreras earl architecture
read more about the project on designboom here

 

 

DB: how much do your briefs vary between different architecture firms? how often do architects have strange or particular requests?

 

TGA+MA: we shy away from briefs as much as possible. the worst kind of brief tells you where to go and how to get there. you are left with all the struggle and none of the adventure. we like to think of images as something that we have inside of ourselves. something that we feel the need to see come to life. there is a huge difference in meaningfulness between making an image that you see inside yourself and making an image envisioned by someone else.

visualization studio mir interview
radisson blu capital hotel designed by eraclis papachristou

 

 

TGA+MA (continued): here’s the strangest request we ever had: just as we were about the finish an image for a client, they told us to ‘add sick, dying and gay (!?) people’. true story. we never worked with them again. 

 

many-many years ago an old bearded man knocked at our door asking for our services. he had caught wind that we were ‘photoshop magicians’. he pulled up a photo from his backpack. ‘I need you to make my wife’s breasts bigger, and maybe freshen the color of her face,’ he said. we took the job, but kind of regret it today. or do we? was she even his wife?

interview-mir-trond-greve-andersen-mats-andersen-designboom-1800bx

fedje hotel designed by saunders architecture

 

DB: how closely do you work with an architecture firm when you are developing images for them? how much creative freedom do you have?

 

TGA+MA: the surprising truth is that the closer you work with someone, the more creative freedom you get. we want it to be personal. we think of our clients as having trusted us with their reputation. it would be shameful to abuse that trust. we have abused that trust in the past and it keeps us awake at night. as we get older it becomes more important to be able to stand behind our work, and we can not do that unless we have absolute creative freedom.

'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir
fedje hotel designed by saunders architecture

 

 

DB: how important is it to create an atmosphere or tell a particular story to make your renderings stand out from the crowd?

 

TGA+MA: for an image to truly have impact, it needs to look different than anything else out there. despite common beliefs, most architects are bound by convention and afraid to take risks. this means that truly effective images are outside most architects’ comfort zone. our goal is to make the brave architects into stars.

'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir
floating island in copenhagen designed by marshall blecher
read more about the project on designboom here

 

 

TGA+MA (continued): we think of our images more like emotions than stories; like a song without lyrics. the idea of a story implies that you have something to tell, which we don’t have — we have something to show. our goal is to make purely visually-oriented images. we want the narrative or concept to be hidden in metatext rather than being flaunted in public.

'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir
cabin project designed by norwegian painter vebjørn sand and his brother aune sand

 

 

DB: how do you develop projects with your studio? do different members of your team have different strengths?

 

TGA+MA: we are all human beings. one day we are on top of the world, the next we just want to disappear in a black hole. strength is relative. as a rule of thumb, everyone has the opportunity to shine, knowing that they have a backup should things fall apart. a safety net allows for more experimental acrobatics. each artist has complete artistic freedom over each image. but the work is curated in part by us as studio principals and in part by the collective.

'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir
garden for a private client in china designed by jensen & skodvin

 

 

DB: can you tell us about a particularly satisfying recent image or commission, and why you enjoyed this project so much?

 

TGA+MA: we are truly grateful to everyone who trusts us with their projects. but above all, we have to thank jensen & skodvin, asif khan, and ricardo bofill taller de arquitectura for being brave and trusting us to a different level than we were used to in the past. all of them helped us find ways to use intuition and heart in our work. before working with them, we didn’t trust that we could be personal in our work, and we didn’t trust that we could make a huge enough difference for our clients. thanks in part to the collaboration with them, we are now much more confident in the value of our own perspective; that our spirit is a spice that can make big changes for people. 

'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir
eco resort in portugal designed by ricardo bofill taller de arquitectura

 

 

DB: looking back, how would you describe the evolution of your work over the years?

 

TGA+MA: we used to make images based on pride and vanity. we wanted to WIN and to prove to everyone that we were the best. we didn’t care about our clients, we cared about our portfolio. multiple burnouts, depressions and a couple of mid-life crises later, we realized that we needed to find a better motivation in our work — and in life too actually.

interview-mir-trond-greve-andersen-mats-andersen-designboom-1800c

follo museum workshop designed by asas arkitektur and skog arkitekter

 

TGA+MA (continued): our goal now is for things to be more personal. we truly believe that we can make a huge difference for the brave souls who want to step outside the norm and try different things. there is nothing we love more than to see how contagious our enthusiasm can be.

'we think of our images more like emotions than stories' says visualization studio mir
an undisclosed project for rafael viñoly architects

 

 

DB: in what ways do you see the world of architectural visualization developing in the future?

 

TGA+MA: just a few years from now, anyone will be able to produce good-looking visualizations at the click of a button. the development of 3D technology and automation of assets means that architects will work in a real-time environment similar to what architectural visualizations look like today. the few visualization studios that will survive are the ones that can prove their value beyond the technical know-how. in norwegian, we have an expression ‘å gi av seg selv’ – poorly translated to ‘to give of yourself’. is the value you, or your software proficiency?

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5