You weren’t always involved in design. How did you make the transition from the music world to graphic design?
Graphic design or communication design is like good jazz music. You need to improvise, and it’s possible to interpret different themes in very different ways. Music is momentum. When translated into visual communication, this momentum is transformed into a longer-lasting state. This should and needs to change over time, and allows for many different levels of interpretation and variation as it evolves.
What motivated you to go to Munich?
Munich was not the deciding factor. I wanted to work at a brand agency known for its high-quality design, with major brands in its portfolio without being mainstream, and where people work who are game for anything. KMS TEAM was and continues to be this type of agency.
You’ve been at KMS TEAM for 16 years now. Do you see any differences between the graphic design work in Munich and Basel in terms of standards or impact?
No. I think that Basel and Munich are fairly similar. There may be greater differences when it comes to content. I think that the so-called design scene in Basel produces very high quality work, and draws inspiration from the history and design tradition of major personalities. This legacy of design excellence sometimes surpasses the content. In other words: People talk more about graphic design in Basel. In Munich, they talk more about brands.
Munich is a place that strongly values tradition and culture. Is this something that you notice in your work?
If I were to choose a location for a company, it would be Barcelona. Munich is a major city, but also an international village. «Mia san mia» is a highly developed economic hub, but it’s not the most creative of places. You need to look elsewhere for inspiration – other cultures, countries, mindsets. You need more than just local inspiration to create good design at an international level. Munich is a cosmopolitan city with a high quality of life, strong tradition and fascinating culture, but the city doesn’t influence my work. At least I don’t think so!
What makes for a good team?
People who enjoy their work! Let’s be honest: How can we create great brands or good design if it’s not fun? Designers have one of the most diversified jobs. You can shape, change and improve so many things, in increments both big and small. You’re always working with new topics, and these can be realized in very different ways. The abilities within a team should be as diverse as the tasks we face in our daily lives. This is what helps us advance the entire team.
Do you think good creation is the result of sudden inspiration or hard work?
Good creation is the result of a thorough understanding of the content.
Is impact more important than design?
When we separate impact from design, we see two different worlds that dilute each other. The fast-paced world we live in is shaped by perpetual information overload and a lack of visual quality. This is a constant in our work. It’s also why we’re always trying to achieve a strong impact through even stronger design. If I take a minute to look at the world around me in my everyday life, I notice that there’s still a lot of work to do.
Where are you more willing to compromise? Communication or design?
Neither. I strongly believe that good design only works with good content and vice versa.
Has your attitude towards creative work changed during your time in Munich?
Definitely. I came to Munich right after finishing my degree in Basel. Of course, I had very different ideas of what communication is or could be. My experiences have changed this perspective, and working with big ideas has transformed my standards. Working creatively also means making good decisions. I believe if we as designers lack the ability to make decisions, we cannot change and grow over the long term.
KMS TEAM has received many international awards and accolades over the years. How important is this recognition to you?
Awards are definitely important – for me personally, and for people’s egos! No, actually, I’m not that narcissistic. Of course, people are proud when they receive an award for their work. There are too many awards these days, unfortunately. As a result, an award is more of an investment that serves to benefit the company. Many clients are drawn to agencies based on the number of pertinent awards and creative rankings. Awards and recognition aren’t the most important things for me personally. It’s more important to me that my work inspires others and makes a positive, lasting contribution to society.
The interview was conducted by Mirielle Dobler, Schule für Gestaltung Basel.
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