Think Work Observe
Think Work Observe is a graphic design studio based in Udine (Italy), founded in December 2011 by Piero Di Biase and Alberto Moreu.
What are your backgrounds and how did you get into graphic design?
A. I got into graphic design by chance, almost after university, where I was studying communication and advertising. Nonetheless, I have always been conscious that it would have been a part of my life. A casual encounter created the possibility for an internship into a very good studio, so I moved to that place, I learned the job from the very beginning with real problems and real commissions, I worked there for seven years, I met my current partner, the other half of TWO, and I met also my actual girlfriend. So in a certain sense, that choice defined all my current life: going to that place and quitting with that place.
P. I honestly have to say that I’ve started without any background, everything grew up little by little, from my first employments in some printing companies (at the beginning I was interested in printing and materials), through the first small experimental projects, and finally when I got my first job as a graphic designer in the studio were I met Alberto.
When and what made you start your own studio?
A. The aim has always been to create my own practice, without any doubt. Practicing in other studios was a training, in my intentions. It took a lot of time to decide to quit, because I needed two things before of that: being quite good to be ready, and sharing this idea with someone.
P. We started thinking about our own studio around 2010, but we had to wait one year before setting it. For me the aim was to be free to choose my own way of designing, and being able to organize my time and life.
Do you have a design philosophy?
A. In my idea of design, what we do is always based on principles, and that gives value to our act. This works for design as well as for any other thing. So yes, we got a design philosophy that is, of course, quite complex, made of the needs of both as single persons, but that we can resume with the name we choose for the practice. TWO, because we are in two, so everyone with the same percentage of importance in every decision, and the three stages of the work we share: think, work, and observe as mind, hand and eye, to remember to enjoy the process more than the results.
P. I don’t know if I have or follow a design philosophy, through the years I’ve changed lot of times the perception of my work, trying to do things that I’ve never did before. If we mean philosophy as taste or style I say no, if it is a matter of quality and attention to the details I would say yes.
What are the big challenges doing editorial projects compared to, say identity work?
A. They are two completely different things, as they requires different ways of perceiving. “Time” is the first dimension of every editorial project, so mainly you have to develop a sequence and work on rhythm. “Pure” graphic, conceived as “drawn”, for me here is less important. Working on an identity involve mainly drawing capacity, conceived as composing things on a defined surface. That’s to say it briefly. So, replying to your answer, big challenges in editorial projects are in producing something that combines an aesthetic for the object as well as an unconventional, still pleasant rhythm.
P. I have to say that I prefer to work on identities, as I’m more interested in drawing shapes, composing and working with typography; the different aspects and problems of a corporate identity project are easier to manage for me than editorial projects, and for this reason Alberto has to do all the editorial works :—)
How do you usually take on new projects?
A. They always contact us: then we decide if there is a balance between money and interest and fun in doing that project. Money are not enough to convince us.
P. Alberto explained it well!
What’s good and bad about being based in Udine?
A. Well, for me is a thought I had so many times. A small city, of course, got many limits in terms of people you can meet with similar interests, in inspiration and projects. On the other side, it permits us many things we simply couldn’t afford in a big city. When we started, we were inspired by a lot of young designers in Europe that were choosing to stay out of London or Berlin, and we did the same, traveling a lot and working with clients outside Italy. Actually, in the end my interest is quality, and here is a good compromise. When it will not work anymore, I will find other options.
P. As Alberto said the bad thing is that you have few chances to meet people that share your interests and inspirations, the good thing for me is the quality of life. In 2004 I spent one year in London and I understood that I belong to my small places, without stress, smog, rush hours, expensive flats and junk food, to list a few. I prefer mountains, silence and a quite lifestyle. OMG I’m getting old.
What drives you to create, and how do you stay motivated over time?
A. Well, I never need a motivation: to change the world around you is a state of mind, design is a method, not a work.
P. There’s something in your nature that drives you to create and not only as a designer; finding new solutions, solving problems and having a certain approach is part of your life, and brings to you motivation everyday.
How do you keep a good life/work balance?
A. Also if I would like to do it, I still don’t keep a good balance.
P. Keeping them separate.
What are your influences and how does it affect your work?
A. Influences mostly come from other people, and it affects a lot my work: I love to listen and learn, so I always consider different point of view.
P. Yes influences come from other people and also from other fields, I can mention Art, Architecture, Music; everything affects you and even your work. Good interests make your design method richer.
As designers – what are your subjects of interest?
A. Mine would be to project a magazine, so not just taking care of the design but the full direction, typeface included. I got a project in my mind I would like to develop but I’m still searching for the good team (we are too few, now) to start it.
P. Absolutely Typography.
Do you have any dream projects or clients?
A. It depends on the years working for design firms, but the client of my dreams could be a well-known Swiss furniture company, or a Dutch museum.
P. My dream project is to design a wall clock.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A. I like to travel, and to stay in a different place moving around like its inhabitants. I like cooking and eating, gardening as well. I would like to be closer to the sea, I would be always there.
P. Eating, drinking, traveling, trekking, bike riding.
Tell us something important you have learned.
A. I’m still learning to enjoy simple things.
P. Being always prepared to unexpected things, at work as in life.
If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?
A. I really think I never considered other options: but chemistry, I suppose.
A. To change.
P. Refurbishing my flat.