Maximilian Schachtner on Daily Dialogue’s evolution from solo practice to creative consultancy
A place for constant evolution and learning, Munich-based creative consultancy Daily Dialogue began in 2015 as a base for Maximilian Schachtner’s solo work before developing into a fully-fledged design and consulting studio around the time of Malin Schoenberg’s arrival as a partner in 2018. Together with their team, they devise identities, publications and digital experiences for brands big and small. We caught up with Max to learn more.
EM Hi Max. How are you?
MS Spring is in front of the door so I’m happy.
EM Prior to founding Daily Dialogue, what is your background?
MS My youth was dedicated to skateboarding and music. I believe this is where a lot of my personal inspiration derives from.
EM How has the studio, and the work you do, evolved since you started out?
MS Workwise we are steadily growing with clients getting bigger and more international. Since the beginning, I’ve been trying to keep a good balance of cultural and commercial jobs. With the pandemic hitting in we could definitely feel a lack of cultural publication jobs, but I would say our work now is well placed between (fashion) identities and some cultural (publication) projects. (As a team we are always reflecting on how to structure ourselves in an efficient way).
I just wanted to know what I’m working for.
EM What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced along the way?
MS The biggest change for me really is that we are now a team of five. When I started Daily Dialogue it was just me and the will to establish a studio with my own attitude where I could decide for myself and make a living. I have always been working a lot and I just wanted to know what I’m working for. I believe our work and its underlying ideals are the same since our beginnings, it’s just that we are now more people. Being an employee and sharing the studio with my business partner Malin is probably where I have to work on myself the most. It’s not the easiest task to organise a team and take care that everyone is happy.
EM What do you do to stay organised?
MS We are currently working with different tools like Slack and Trello plus trying to establish a weekly routine: on Monday noon when everyone is settled we are discussing what’s on the table, Tuesdays are when everyone is showing their projects to the team and the following days we are having smaller meetings with the individual responsible people of each project.
EM Has the way you work changed since you’ve had employees and Malin as a business partner?
MS I feel that we are currently defining our goals for the next couple of years. We are trying to find a clear structure for every member of the team and to share responsibilities for our projects to be more efficient. Malin is taking care of the development projects while I’m taking care of the design part.
EM How do you typically find new clients?
MS After some years we have established a good mix of a solid platform with loyal clients and new people that want to work with us. In the beginning, I was working with my own network of people here in Munich. Over the years this network was growing and the work we did was connecting us to a broader audience. Obviously, Instagram has become the main platform to show new work and I feel we are quite well presented there. This definitely put us on the map for some very interesting people we are currently working with.
EM How much time do you dedicate to curating and posting to Instagram? Is it as important as the studio’s website?
MS Over the last years I spent a lot of time on that. Since we are really busy it became less and less. I really like the next level a project makes once it’s being documented. Personally, I enjoy it a lot and would love to invest more time in that. I feel in the future we will have a more selected showcase on the website and be more flexible on Instagram. This really doesn’t answer the question, but I feel it’s two different things.
EM What would you like to see more and less of in the design industry?
MS More: the courage to try and present your own ideas and visual aesthetics. With everyone spending so much time looking at Instagram I feel there is this general idea of how things should look like at the moment. I always find it refreshing when people come up with totally own styles that are connected to their personality/background. Less: of the same stuff everywhere.
It is very important to us that everyone is an equal part of the studio.
EM What have you found to be the key to creating a positive working environment for a small team?
MS Hearing what each team member has to say, realising their individual strengths, reflecting on how to communicate with each other, generating harmonic and moments that are not directly dealing with work. We are trying to establish a Friday routine where the team cleans the office together and has some drinks and snacks afterwards. It feels to me like a good way to generate a nice end of the week and enables a fresh start on Monday.
EM Having all of the team mentioned in the studio’s Instagram bio suggests you take a very democratic approach – is that true of how you work as a studio?
MS It is very important to us that everyone is an equal part of the studio. Obviously, Malin and I have to take responsibility for the studio’s actions and the long term strategy. So it’s clear that we have to make decisions at some point in the process but we are trying our best to listen to everyone’s opinions and using each team member’s skills to the best for all of us. I would say our studio has a quite clear attitude and idea of how projects should go and I think that helps everyone working in the right direction.
EM You mentioned earlier that you work a lot – do you think it’s possible to run a studio and not work a lot?
MS I feel that working for the best result invests a lot of work. That probably won’t ever stop. Even though at some point it means that working a lot is more working on yourself: to get it done more easy, fast, in efficient teamwork or not so complicated.
The best piece of work is the work between us as a team.
EM If you could only show one piece of work – one to define the studio – what would it be?
MS I will ask each member of the team to answer this individually.
Mario Nae: ‘(Quasi) Jazz Caps: for Squama – instagram.com/p/CCvCWGWCP9i/?igshid=194421xntkzvv
Janis Macke-Schurr: Place Mag Issue 63 (04/04) – dailydialogue.cc/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/DailyDialogue_PlaceMag_Horizontal.jpg
Oliver Schwamkrug: The best piece of work is the work between us as a team. Developing ideas together feels liberating in a personal and professional process, appreciative and inspirational – so basically no work (but in the end still work).
Malin Schoenberg: The identity of CAP Dept., a Spanish creative production company, shows diversity within a complex system. Daily Dialogue has been accompanying CAP already since 2018 and had the possibility to develop the brand identity, diverse applications and its occurs online. From my point of view, it’s beyond designing and implementing. Working with CAP means being a contact person for content and vision.
MS Solidary Binding, a publication produced on the occasion of the nomination of Maximilian Schachtner, founder and partner of Daily Dialogue, at the ’Förderpreise 2020 der Landeshauptstadt München.’ It features a lot of my work from the first years of building Daily Dialogue. The focus lies on the collaborative approach, it stresses that every project is the result of a team effort. I think this work demonstrates my idea about the profession and how I am personally – instagram.com/p/B9mTCZ-hvXE/?igshid=1gzfye4iohmpr
EM Who would you love to work with, moving forward?
MS Personally, I’m impressed by people that have a straight attitude, a clear idea of the important topics of our times and have some kind of DIY approach. These are the people I like to surround myself with and I feel inspired by. Besides my team and many more these are for now:
Moriz Oberberger is one of my best friends that I met during our studies in Munich. He made a really nice development from being a very good graphic designer to become one of my favourite artists and illustrators. He worked a lot to make a living from his free way of working while creating a solid body of artistic work. We are somehow always collaborating.
Martin Brugger is my label partner at Squama Recordings. We have been friends for quite some years now. He has always been busy with music and me delivering the artworks. It’s nice to have someone by your side on a new project pushing for the next thing as much as I do myself. Whether it be to put new music out, avoiding shrinkwrapping or speeding up the process…
Colin Dörffler is a good friend that I met while he was still living in Munich. His clear idea of his own career and the courage to make the next step without compromises is very inspiring. We are currently working on a personal publication project together.