Studio Feixen: “It’s all about the beauty of Paper”
They focus specifically on nothing in particular. “As long as it challenges us – we’re interested,” say the designers at Swiss based Studio Feixen. After taking on clients like Nike and Google, they were ready to meet their next challenge: the cover of Paper Magazine from Holmen Paper. The designer Felix Pfäffli describes their creative process.
Studio Feixen started as a one-man show. But after a while, the designer and lecturer Felix Pfäffli realised that working alone was just no fun:
“There’s a tradition of graphic designers working alone. But I think we’re living in another time. Now it’s about teamwork. The idea of one person knowing and creating everything should be an idea of yesterday.”
Today the design studio includes two more designers Raphael Leutenegger and Daniel Peter.
“There’s nobody who is great at everything. So in our studio we try to be very honest with ourselves. We try to find out who is the master in one field and try to let everybody work in the areas which suit them best. It’s an incredible feeling to experience what happens when merging talent. The more eyes, the more talent you can put into your work, the better. We fight together, we have our goals and if somebody has a bad day, the others help you to concentrate on reality. And to be honest – success is much more fun to celebrate in a group.”
Studio Feixen is based in Lucerne, Switzerland, and the portfolio contains visual concepts for clients worldwide. International magazines like MIT journal, Wired and New York have collaborated with Feixen for their covers, but they work with all kinds of design: digital, animations, posters, murals and preferably: everything at once.
Is there a typical Studio Feixen process?
“For us it’s mostly about finding new visual languages. I think that’s what we’re known for. We don’t believe in thinking about design ideas. Imagining a new visual language is impossible, since everything you can imagine is just a combination of stuff you’ve already seen. You have to make it. Look at it. And react. So, when we start a project we don’t waste time talking about it. After listening to a client for a few minutes, we already have twenty ideas each, so we just start trying stuff out.”
What happens next?
“This is the interesting part, I think. We print our ideas. Put them on the floor. Try to find out what feels good. Search for combinations, until suddenly we find a language that does everything we expected or even more.”
You focus specifically on nothing in particular. But looking back, can you see a common thread?
“Yes, of course. The poster has been a nice companion through the whole existence of Studio Feixen. But for us it’s not really about the poster, but more about the idea of a poster. It’s about strong images and we like to keep stuff simple. As Charles and Ray Eames once said about how to check if an idea is working or not: ‘Explain it to a child’.”
How do you keep up your creativity?
“That’s a frequently asked question. For me it’s obvious. If you do what you love, creativity is always there.”
When lecturing to students, what is the most common question?
“How did you manage to get to where you are now? Answering the question is harder. But to break it down: Do what you love. Try to find people who understand you. Work with them. And try to change everything you do into something you want to do. Pause. Repeat.”
You’re exploring the possibilities of different media. What are the possibilities when working with a paper product?
“I think there are no limitations. Everything can be interesting. Sometimes it’s the format, sometimes the texture, the cut or the opacity. The more you know about it, the better you can play with it.”
How did your ideas evolve around this cover for Paper Magazine?
“As I explained, our process is always fairly similar. We love to play. So, we tried out various techniques, various ways of communication and at some point, we agreed to reduce our playing field to paper – the medium we work with every day. Since it’s difficult to communicate this medium without really feeling it, we decided to play with its shadows.”
At one point you had several ideas going on, how did you choose when going forward?
“This time we actually all liked this approach of playing with shadows and illusions.”
How would you describe the final cover?
“It’s about the beauty of paper.”
In the third issue of Paper Magazine we talk about how the devil is in the detail and to exemplify we took your e-mail signature.
When did you start writing that way and why?
”I guess that’s how we try to do everything we do. You’re absolutely right. Every detail matters. In this case we discussed a lot how our signature should feel like and what message it should deliver. So we decided it should feel playful and surprising in the most reduced way possible (since we don’t like decoration). Sometimes it’s even the case that we all sit in front of one computer and discuss for hours how one tiny line or letter should be placed. That’s our job. So I’m pretty sure we have had this e-mail signature since we started.
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