interview with mathias haddal hovet of heydays



heydays is a design agency based in oslo. the focus of their work is developing visual identities, digital solutions and other associated material for clients. on of their 5 co-founders, mathias haddal hovet told designboom more about the studio’s work.



designboom: what originally made you want to become an graphic designer?


mathias haddal hovet: my father is a graphic designer and he has been a big influence on me. he’s been running his two man studio in our hometown on the west coast of norway for over 40 years now. we often discussed his work at home and I think this gradually influenced my interest in form and design. both my grandfathers were furniture makers and one of my sisters works as a furniture designer, so I guess this was my path. I’ve always been fascinated about by having a career which combines creativity and business thinking.


in school I met my fellow partners in heydays. we worked on various projects together, as well as some paid work after school hours. our first project together was design and art direct a scandinavian hip-hop and RnB magazine. at the time it was a really huge responsibility and we got to experiment a lot!


we started heydays straight after finishing school in 2008. our plan was to rent a place where we could work on various projects together. during the summer these plans escalated quickly and we decided to give it a go. our background, skills and visual preferences were quite different, which all made it pretty interesting. nearly 7 years later, the five of us still work together, and we get to work with clients from all over the world.



fosnavaag cultural centre identity – a newly built concert hall on the west coast of norway.


fosnavaag cultural centre identity – signage 



the identity consists of 10 logos. going from calm to stormy, the dynamic identity reflects the contrasts and nuances in both music and the dramatic location.



‘as the concert hall was founded by the local community, it was only natural to honor them in with their very own part of the building. the wall is built up by tiles split into seven categories, ranging from the smallest to the largest donations. a scale itself, just like the rest of their identity. being almost four meters high, it has a strong impact on the audience. and inspired by the buildings tiled glass facade, the wall feels like an integrated part of the building.’




DB: how would you describe your approach to design?


MHH: I like to spend time on the concept. our main teacher at school, paul van brunschot, was a trained ad-man from the netherlands, not a graphic designer. he sadly passed away a couple of years ago, but has been a huge influence on all five of us. he spoke from the heart and taught us to really work on the conceptual side of design. thinking big and conceptual, before thinking small and details. he gave us lots of good lessons in how to turn problems in to opportunities and that limitations in design are a good thing. these rules, and how to create strict limitations in our own design work has stuck with us.



DB: would you say he has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?


MHH: certainly one of them – but it’s always hard to narrow influences down to just one or two. my views on design are challenged all the time: by new clients, new projects and new opportunities with new techonlogy. its important to have an open mind and to take a step back once in awhile. really question the way you work and what your work communicates. I’ve learned that design processes can solve just about anything, if you gather the right people.


mellbye identity – architects studio in norway, founded in 1954


‘with their mindset anchored in modernism, we created an identity based on a symbol that combines their two main services: architecture and interior.’


detail of the die-cut folder



DB: what would you say is your strongest skill and how have you honed that skill over the years?


MHH: the ability to take a step back and question just exactly what is being communicated. I’m getting better at asking the right questions instead of trying to give the right answers.


DB: what type of brief or project do you enjoy working on the most and why?


MHH: there’s something interesting about most projects if you pick up on the most relevant part of the brief.



KK wind solutions identity – business providing control systems for the wind power industry.


KK wind solutions identity – business cards


application of the identity in the work place



DB: what are your thoughts on specialisation vs generalisation?


MHH: I believe in unbundling. less one-stop-shops and more specialised teams collaborating. its more flexible, gives the client more options and I believe its easier to innovate in such an environment, much more than if everything happens under one big roof.



DB: how do you think online design resources have influenced the graphic design being produced today?


MHH: this is a double-edged sword and a really interesting debate. on one hand, having everything accessible at the tip of your finger, makes the world feel a smaller place. it’s easier to collaborate, have your work published globally, buy design services outside your own country etc. at the same time such resources also makes our field of references so much bigger. its easy to research cultural differences in visuals, approaches and language. I’m not sure if this really makes each country and visual language increasingly similar, or if it creates a stronger cultural heritage you want to cherish – a bit of both perhaps.



SV identity – norwegian political party


SV identity – printed applications


SV identity – booklet



DB: what are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?


MHH: we’re really fascinated by how visual identities and design can change based on the input from outside forces. that could be input from the people, physics, sound, big data etc. we recently created an identity and signage system for a concert hall which changes based on the soundscape inside of the building.


DB: what are you passionate about besides your work?


MHH: since I’ve grown up on the west coast of norway, I love the mountains, fjords and everything that comes with them; skiing, fishing, hiking and so on. I also enjoy playing football and watch arsenal football club, whenever they play. I love travelling with my girlfriend or friends, eating good and learning about new places.



wesley mann identity – american portrait photographer


wesley mann identity – portfolio postcards


wesley mann identity – portfolio boxes



DB: what’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?


MHH: answer the phone.


DB: what’s your personal motto?


MHH: question more.