The Designers: Studio Dumbar’s Stan Haanappel on learning motion and why good design takes time
The Designers delves deep into the world’s leading design studios through a series of in-depth conversations with the individuals that make them tick. For number eleven in the series, we spoke to Stan Haanappel of Rotterdam-based Studio Dumbar.
EM Hey Stan. How’s life?
SH Happy, sad, optimistic and stressed out at the same time! The strict measures because of COVID in daily life does affect me quite a lot. Especially not being able to work in the studio together with the rest of the Studio Dumbar team makes me quite sad. I really miss the atmosphere, the jokes, the beers and of course mostly the people a lot. Definitely can’t wait for things to go back to normal again and to be reunited (physically). On the other end in my free time, I do have a good replacement to try and forget all the things that aren’t allowed at the moment. I fill my free time in renovating my new (really old) house that my girlfriend and I bought three months ago.
EM Do you associate your first interests in design to a particular time, place or object?
SH When I was 10, I started skateboarding and ended up being obsessed with the sport and the lifestyle around it. I always tried to get as many free stickers as possible at the local skate shop. All these branded stickers with logos and illustrations ended up on the walls and especially the door to my parents’ bedroom, which was a horrible decision because these were made to stick on skateboards and therefore were impossible to remove (sorry Mum and Dad). In the end, being surrounded with an overkill of branded content like stickers, posters, magazines, illustrations, graffiti and of course the boards themselves gave me the urge that I wanted to start designing myself.
I always tried to get as many free stickers as possible at the local skate shop.
EM Do you still feel influenced by those skate stickers, or do you think your taste is very different from those days?
SH Definitely, of course my taste has changed a lot over the years, but I am still really inspired by how these brands were able to make these highly recognisable bold and iconic logos.
EM Can you tell us how you landed a role at Studio Dumbar?
SH When I was an intern at the studio, I was asked If I wanted to join the team. At that time, I still needed to graduate from art school, and it would take me at least another year. I doubted a lot but finally made the decisions to say no and to finish art school. This was one of the most difficult decisions I made in my life because I wanted this job more than anything. Of course, my main goal was to join the team anyways when I would finally graduate, but I couldn’t be sure this would actually happen. That uncertainty really stressed me out every day. Luckily, the moment I graduated, Liza Enebeis (Creative Director at Studio Dumbar) called me up again with the question of whether I still wanted to join the team.
EM How has your work evolved during your time there?
SH The biggest change I experienced during my time at Studio Dumbar is the focus on motion. The past three years, we changed from being a more traditional branding agency to a branding agency focussing on digital experiences and especially motion. To do this also the dynamic in the studio changed a lot. To create the projects we currently do, we work together with specialists (such as motion designers, 3D, typographers) and all-rounders. I call myself an all-rounder because I know a bit of everything and therefore can understand the language of the specialists. So when we work together, I’ll try to connect the dots between the design we are developing and all the specialists within the team. By working together with a diverse team, I manage to create identities that are, in my opinion, strong both in still and motion.
EM What can you recommend to designers who would like to incorporate more motion in their work?
SH I think consistency is key to learn motion, keep trying and keep failing. In order to learn the basics, you have to experiment a lot. While learning what is possible, you will start to think in motion instead of stills, and it will also become easier to work together and collaborate with experienced motion designers / creative coders.
Our goal was to create something that has the ability to change...
EM What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?
SH Definitely the Amsterdam Sinfonietta visual identity. On one hand, there was the experimental concert poster history designed by different designers at Studio Dumbar, and on the other, there was the visual identity that was less outspoken and more minimalistic. The refresh in the identity needed to show the ever-changing experimentation also in the identity. Our goal was to create something that has the ability to change in the future with a million possibilities. After many many evenings and weeks sketching, we developed a technique to visualise the music through moving typography.
EM What part of being a graphic designer do you find the most underrated?
SH Creating a good design proposal needs time. And especially time to experiment and really explore all possibilities. We should never take this time for granted – because it’s the guarantee to great results.
EM How about the most overrated?
SH I think a lot of people think graphic design is like a Mad Men series.
EM What does your setup look like?
Creating a good design proposal needs time.
EM How do you stay organised while working from home?
SH Trying to act the same as I would while working in the studio. Being consistent in getting up, wearing shoes, having a lunch break and creating a million to-do lists.
EM How do you approach days where you don’t feel creative?
SH By doing boring, repetitive tasks that need to be done anyway. This really helps me to stay productive while not being creative and gives me enough time to reboot my mind. Of course, there are moments this is not possible because of a deadline; at that point, I do need to keep myself focused by listening to really noisy music.
EM Who do you look up to in the creative world, and why?
SH Sometimes I think ‘f*ck I wish I had come up with that’ or ‘f*ck I wish I could do that;’ this is for me a sign that I really like the work these people make. A few examples are: Jonas Ersland, Dirk Koy, Gilles de Brock, Rafael Rozendaal, Schimmel & Schweikle, Michiel Schuurman, Zach Lieberman and Yonk studio.
EM Would you like to start your own practice one day?
SH Difficult question, at the moment no. I am really happy that I am part of a team with all eager, motivated and talented people. Like I said before, by working well together, we are able to achieve a higher quality of work. I get quite anxious by the idea of suddenly being on my own. But of course, you never know what the future will bring.