Lea Brousse, Partner
Lea was born in Provence, in France in 1984. In 2004 she completed her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology GCEA level. After that she studied Product Design at the first ESAAT Roubaix, and received a BTEC Higher National Diploma in product design in 2006. She moved to Venice and in 2009 obtained a Master’s degree in Product Industrial Design from the University of Architecture IUAV. Afterwards, she worked as a designer for Teodolinda (Venice), Glow (Berlin) and many others. From 2012 to 2014 she was Lead Designer at Zafin (North America). She works also as illustrator, published the book “Ficktogram“, and is living in Berlin.
Raban Ruddigkeit, Partner
Raban was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1968. In the 1980s he co-founded the first and last fanzine of the GDR. After ten years as designer for magazines and ten years as art director in advertising (e.g. Scholz & Friends, Jung von Matt), since 2009 he has been linking these two worlds in his own Berlin studio. To date he has won more than 100 national and international awards (Cannes Design Lion, European Design Award, ADC Europe…). In 2012 his atelier was awarded as “Rookie Agency of the Year” by Art directors club and KfW Banking Group.
He is the Founder of “Freistil – The Book Of Illustrators” and Co-Editor of “Typodarium”, and “Poladarium”. In 2013 he publish his first monography “Rapport”. Raban has lectured and taught in Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin, where he lives since 1996. 2015 he start with Lea Brousse the new adventure Brousse & Ruddigkeit. From winter 2016 Raban Ruddigkeit is teaching at Münster School of Design. Read Wikipedia in german.
The following interview is first published in the blog Creative Network from Belgium;
Berlin-based designer Raban Ruddigkeit has been pushing the envelope for over twenty years. With more than a hundred national and international awards on his mantlepiece and an impressive list of clients in his portfolio, you would be forgiven for thinking he might relax and enjoy the view for a while. Instead, he and his creative partner Lea Brousse are ready for a major overhaul of their design atelier. Their focus is now firmly on branding in the digital age.
Raban and Lea, when did you first get involved with graphic design?
Raban Ruddigkeit: My father was a graphic designer and a painter in Leipzig, and my mother was a writer. So I guess that’s how I first got involved with it. But to this day, I don’t really consider myself a graphic designer. I’m more of a transmitter or translator of content, if you will.
At different points in my career I worked in printing, made magazines, wrote texts … For me, it’s not about drawing pretty things or the colour that would best suit your logo… I like to think about societal problems and the solutions to those problems. If you could do away with miscommunication, the world would be a better place.
Lea Brousse: I come from a very academic school, where I studied product design. And I am a lot younger than Raban, but I agree with his philosophy. Design should be about making something new or making something better, not just copying what exists. To some extent, graphic design, product design and architecture all serve this same purpose.
On your website, you posted ten guidelines for good branding in a digital world, taking your cue from Dieter Rams’ ten principles of good design. Number five on the list says that good design should be progressive. What does that mean?
RR: In our new media-world the old and classical rules don’t work anymore. Progressive for us meaning that it’s not only about having a logo and a space around it. In a digital environment, your logo is surrounded by a good many other visual elements. There are no ten millimetres to the left and right. That’s old stuff for an old world.
I still see this tendency among my students in Hamburg. They say: ‘when we grow up, we’ll do these nice posters or work for a publishing house’. It’s a romantic notion and completely inadequate! When you step on a train nowadays, you only see people playing with their smart phones. Print is on its way out. Still, every designer has published a book on book design, and if they’re lucky they’ll sell more than one copy of it (laughs).
The design world can learn so much from Silicon Valley, where these startups are doing really creative things. We are designers, so that’s what we’re trying to do too. For the last couple of months, we have been on a sort of self-exploration, not bothering too much with clients, but seeking true creative partnerships instead.
LB: Designers still tend to think inside the print process. It’s as if we don’t believe a website or an app can be beautiful, because it has too many layers. You just have to find a way to simplify your brand, so that it fits in this new environment.
RR: What’s the logo of Twitter? Is it a bird or a T? And does it matter? We are finally at the point where we can embrace this new technology. It’s not automatic by any means. It took us a long time to get used to moving images too.
Next on the list: good design should be sustainable. That’s clear enough for a product designer, but how do you make your brand sustainable?
LB: Sustainable means timeless. Your corporate identity shouldn’t be trendy. It has to withstand trends. This year you see triangles and – what are they called – reindeers everywhere, you can’t escape it. Next year it’s something else. It doesn’t have any meaning, so it’s useless, it’s trash.
RR: A great example is the cantilever chair that was created by Charles Eames in the twenties. More than eighty years later, this same model is still being sold. Why shouldn’t we aspire to that kind of longevity when it comes to graphic design? Sustainability isn’t necessarily about using less paper, it’s about being economical, even in design.
You also believe that design needs to be open. Designers and clients should be able to let go of the brand they created. That almost sounds like a Budhist mantra.
RR: Every designer knows that style guides can be ridiculously oversized. In a lot of cases, there are far too many rules for designers. We are creators! How can you work with this document that kills all creativity?
I’ve worked with small companies that could not afford to pay for my services from brand conception to finalization. So I set out some simple guidelines and let other designers or even employees complete the process. The same goes for the consumers. They too can be part of the brand, and the brand can become part of their lives.
LB: Basically, as a brand you’re trying to have a conversation with the world. But what kind of conversation can you have when you’ve already decided on everything?
It’s obvious you’re not keen on looking back, but is there any work you’re particularly proud of?
LB: I always feel like I can do better. Obviously, I like it when people are satisfied. A client once said that working with us was like meditating and I felt pretty good about that (laughs). But in the end, the pleasure is in the process.
RR: I agree. And hopefully we can have more fun with our smart phones afterwards (laughs).
Thanks to Hans Mertens & Timothy Helmer from Creative Network!
Ten theses for good design
Based on the ten rules for good product design by Dieter Rams (Braun) we developed our theses for branding in the age of digital media, ever faster communication as well as highly competitive products and services. Especially for them a good branding is more than a classical design, it is the value of a more and more virtual product.
Good design is simple
The more complicated a problem is, the simpler the solution should be. Clarity and recognizability are the basis of a strong brand in an ever-growing ocean of product offerings.
Good design is different
In a world with ever more virtual products only the brand is what makes a difference. Therefore we work hard for designing something really new and never seen before.
Good design is flexible
From Favicon to architecture, from poster to movie – the design of a brand should be flexible. We work on brands that can change without loosing their core.
Good design is global
Going digital means entering the global stage. Borders, language boundaries, cultural barriers and currencies are much more permeable than only a few years ago. Thus, a brand should be internationally understandable.
Good design is progressive
Only interventions push brands forward. That is why in our designs we always search for the paths never taken before as well as state-of-the-art media and thus avoid every kind of frameworking.
Good design is open
A self-confident brand can allow itself to understand its audience as partner and ambassador. This is why we design brands that can be understood by everyone and developed further by employers and costumers.
Good design is sustainable
Only long-lasting brands are responsible. From name to logo to final concept we stand for highest quality that withstands the test of time. And join forces with you for the most effective use of means and media.
Good design is true
Branding is not a show, but work. Creativity is not meant to camouflage something, but to support a position – the more authentic, the more powerful.
Good design is consequent
From business card to website, from campaign to invoice – each and every detail counts. We pay attention to a consequent appearance as well as to enhancing the potency of the respective medium for each piece.
Good design is based on ideas
Not at least – colors, forms and formats mean nothing, if they don’t follow an idea. For that reason all our technical skills always incorporate an idea that makes your brand unique and that you can develop further.
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