designboom interviews designpolitie



designboom recently spoke to pepijn zurburg and richard van der laken, the founders of designpolitie.



DB: please could you tell us how you both met and decided to form designpolitie?
DP: we met at art school in utrecht where we collaborated in an exhibition. we did not really know each other but as soon as we had to work together in this exhibition there was an instant click. from there things developed organically. we did not have a strong focus on the the stuff we did or did not want to do. we were like the cookie monster: eat it all!



view of the designpolitie office in amsterdam



through the years our work took us into the cultural sector; we did a lot of work for theaters and for example the netherlands architecture institute (NAI). but we have have always loved to collaborate with companies and advertising agencies like kesselskramer or dawn. another constant line in our career is our self initiated projects. it started with a magazine called millennium that was terminated in 2000. we also did exhibitions, diners, parties etc. one of our biggest projects that is still going on is gorilla. gorilla is a visual column in which we react on the current news. it was published in the dutch newspaper volkskrant for almost four years. now you can find it in dutch weekly magazine groene amsterdammer. it is a great project in which we collaborate with fellow designers herman van bostelen and lesley moore. one of the most significant developments in our studio in the past three years is without a doubt what design can do, which is a major international conference in amsterdam. we initiated it and we curate and design everything. we do this in close harmony with a group of dutch designers from different disciplines.



DB: how do you share / divide your workload between studio members?
DP it depends. we are a very small studio, so we do a lot together. with what design can do richard takes the lead, with a lot of designpolitie projects pepijn is in the lead. the talented and hard working sara landeira is also a very important part of our studio.




identity for what design can do










DB: what do you enjoy about designing identities?
DP: an identity is not volatile. it stays for years. advertising and campaigning on the other hand is very volatile. what is very rewarding in developing a visual identity is that when you do it well, everything fits like a puzzle and a visual language suddenly appears – and that is what it is all about; your own recognizable visual language.



DB: given your experience, are you able to finalize an identity much quicker than you used to?
DP: ha ha! it depends. of course after some years you gain experience and often know what works and what doesn’t. but that can also be tricky. that is why it is also very important to keep on working with young designers and interns. they bring new ideas to the stage. for us important to pick out the brilliant ones and develop them into identity and communication.





gorilla visual column







DB: what mistakes or ‘traps’ should a young designer avoid when working on an identity system?
DP: well, it is very important to make mistakes, to fail. it is the most valuable learning process. when we started our more experienced colleagues warned us for all kinds of things. but the monumental blunders were more valuable! one tip would be to always keep the bigger picture in mind.




netherlands architecture institute (NAI) identity










DB: what are your thoughts on specialization vs generalization?
DP: we think that disciplines are merging and we always encourage the cross over. also we do think that as designers we can be of more importance. we can act as problem solver, as translators, but we can also ask new questions and search for ‘new problems’. this demands a free role for the designer. and that is, in times of crisis, a dilemma from hell. as in many other countries we think this is going on as well as here in the netherlands. but the people who do this are not the individuals anymore. the great days of anthon beeke or milton glaser are over. now it is about design teams and cross overs.




frascati theater branding and poster campaigns






DB: do you think it’s important for a graphic designer to be able to draw?
DP: yes. by drawing or sketching you can quickly establish whether an idea is viable. also by drawing you can come across ideas that are more intuitive. also it drawing helps you to relax and have fun, which is very important if you are trying to come up with a great idea.










DB: what do you think the most significant developments in identity design have been in recent years?
DP: the dramatic change in media and the world wide crisis influenced identity design enormously. the changing media made identity fluid and moving. it is not about a logo and a letterhead anymore. now a lot of identities have a 2.0 look and feel. the danger is that a lot of things on the net start to look the same… the crisis made people anxious and conservative. that makes it difficult for designers to take time and experiment. the economic crisis also caused a crisis in time.



DB: how do you think the popularity of online design resources have influenced design being produced today?
DP: as mentioned before, there is a certain visual language that goes with online and in time it will develop in a better way we’re sure. we are still in the first years of a huge development. but now a lot of blogs and forums are copycatting each other, in content and in design.







DB: why do you design?
DP: we want to show a glimpse of a better world.



DB: what is the best piece of advice you have ever heard?
DP: ‘work hard and be nice to people’ – anthony burrill