Vrints-Kolsteren is an Antwerp based studio led by Vincent Vrints and Naomi Kolsteren. We caught up with Vincent to talk about their work in the fields of creative direction, graphic design and photography.
Why did you guys decide to start your own studio together?
We know each other from our student time. At that time we started a small collective called Studio Fluit, with a few classmates. In this collective we noticed that we were a good collaborative team. We work both in a very different way, but complement each other. After graduating we both worked abroad. Naomi worked in Berlin, and I worked in the Netherlands for a couple of years. We both think it was very important to get experience before starting our own business.
Who was your first client, and how did that relationship develop?
Our first project was to make a visual event style for the graduation show for the art school Sint-Lucas in Antwerp. Repetition was our main concept for the identity, referring to the path from being a student to becoming a master. In this identity we combined photography and graphic design. The combination of these two artistic tools is something we took further in our work later on.
Can you explain the reasoning behind your approach to the Borg 2016 brand?
Borg was a biennial event for contemporary art in Borgerhout, Antwerp. In 2016 the subject was gentrification. Gentrification is a delicate issue, especially in artistic circles. Well aware of the risk of hypocrisy, contributing to what it is supposed to criticise, Borg 2016 chose to embrace rather than to resist this by putting forward the provocative slogan Gentrify Everything. Borg was actually an exhibition, but we wanted to represent and design it as a brand. We launched the exhibition as an advertising campaign using the slogan Gentrify Everything. We made merchandise to promote it like stickers, banners and tape.
How many people make up your team?
At the moment Naomi and me work on all projects together and we work on frequent basis with people that have a different expertise. We like to collaborate with web-developers, artists and curators. At the moment we also have a Swedish graphic design student doing an internship.
What inspired the approach to your visual identity for Antwerp Art?
Antwerp Art connects the most relevant members of the Antwerp contemporary art scene: from established galleries and museums to upcoming initiatives. The museums, small art spaces and galleries are treated in an equal way. That’s why we used a democratic approach for the visual identity. We have little variation in the type size, all the information is on the same level. We also used very neutral typefaces, like Helvetica and Times New Roman. For the identity for Antwerp Art Weekend we used lines that are based on the initials of Antwerp Art, AA. During the weekend it becomes AAW. The lines refers to a map.
How would you describe your core principles as a design studio?
We like modernist design. We have always been inspired by Wim Crouwel and the Swiss designers. They created simple but effective design. By using a clear and minimalistic approach, we try to work in their philosophy. We like to work for clients that fit in this way of designing. That’s why we see a project more as a collaboration and involve the client in the design process.
What is the concept of your logotype and typographic approach for Arte?
Arte is a menswear brand created and located in Antwerp, an old harbour city. For the visual identity of Arte we got inspired by the industrial approach of the design used for ships and the industrial port area of Antwerp. We chose for a very clear and industrial looking typographical mark, combined with a monospaced serif typeface for secondary information. We use this system in a very strict way. Using numbers for dates and seasons is also generating this industrial feeling.
What’s it like being a design studio in Antwerp, and how does the city inspire you?
Antwerp is inspiring because there’s a lot happening in the fields of fashion and art. We are most influenced by working on projects with people that are talented in other disciplines such as curators, artists, fashion designers and other artistic minds. Because we live and work in Antwerp, we work frequently on local projects, but we are not limited to our city. We have a strong professional connection with Rotterdam, and also worked on projects for international based clients.
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