Stefan Jandl on launching Favorit Studio as a place to build brands and realise “countless ideas”
Zurich-based design duo Stefan Jandl and Andi Zellweger have made their long-standing collaboration official with the launch of Favorit Studio; forming a foundation for their self-initiated and commercial projects in the worlds of graphic design, packaging, product design and beyond. Having spoken to Stefan in July 2020 about their Swiss essentials brand Favorit & Co, we got back in touch to find out about its progression and what else they have in store.
EM Can you give us an update on what you’ve been up to and what you have going on, since we last spoke like this back in the middle of 2020?
SJ Since then, many changes have taken place. From one idea, one side project, many other side projects have emerged. It was a very wild time. We are in the process of building a tennis brand, a platform for sunscreens, have started the development of a local mineral water and have become active in the emerging field of digital art. Plus I started to accompany the development of a new platform for sustainable investments. In addition, we have many more ideas in mind and we can hardly wait to implement them. All this has led me to quit my job at the agency where I had worked for seven years and venture into self-employment. While I still maintain a very close working relationship with the agency, I’m now able to invest more time into my passion projects, product design, brand building and the realisation of countless ideas. Now it’s finally founded and has gained momentum – our own company – Favorit Studio.
I’m extremely excited to be able to create my own world and a playground where I can run free without guidelines.
EM Where do you think your entrepreneurial attitude and desire to launch these projects come from?
SJ I remember very clearly the words of my former lecturer, when he said I could decide whether I choose the commercial path, become an average designer and have a comfortable life with family, house, car, dog and a garden. Or whether I become an excellent designer – without all these comforts. That sounds quite overacted, but I think back then there was a much clearer distinction between cultural and commercial graphic design. I see these two worlds merging more and more these days. That kind of grid thinking has not applied to me for a long time. I’m extremely excited to be able to create my own world and a playground where I can run free without guidelines. I think it is less an entrepreneurial thinking, but much more the approach to see the world as a carte blanche and to be able to create something sustainable. I’ve felt this inner drive since I was a little boy and spent all day putting ideas on paper.
EM How’s the progress of Favorit & Co, your brand of Swiss essentials?
SJ Our ‘house brand’ Favorit & Co is developing very slowly, very organically and very steadily. I have to say that we have not done any advertising, acquisition nor built on smart marketing ideas. Customers find their way to us through social media or the select stores where we are allowed to showcase our products. Although we are in an absolutely niche market, it is a pleasure to watch the demand grow. We have been constantly expanding our range and hope that we will soon be able to offer the products internationally. This all sounds very positive, but of course, we also had to overcome some hurdles and challenges. We had to be careful not to lose our focus because of all the new ideas. We can drop certain products within a few weeks. Others involve a complex process. For example, our sanitiser, which will probably only be released when no one is interested in sanitiser anymore. Who knows. But we will take these learnings with us for the development of new products.
EM If you were to do advertising for Favorit & Co, what form do you think it would take, and how would it look?
SJ For me, it’s quite clear that I would choose an unconventional way for this advertising. For example, I would like to book four-poster sites in Zurich for the four fragrances (North, East, West and South). In the north, east, west and south of the city. I would then design these four-poster sites typographically. In addition to the colour, there would also be the scent layer, which would be added to the poster directly during the print process as some sort of special colour. We are currently experimenting with such ‘scented’ posters with a printer. Let’s see where this leads and whether one day, a good smelling advertising will actually come out of it.
Most of the time, new product ideas actually arise more by chance.
EM What is your process like for deciding which products to make next? And then figuring out how to make them a reality?
SJ The beauty of this is that there is no predetermined process. Most of the time, new product ideas actually arise more by chance. We stumble across an idea in everyday life, we meet someone exciting, or even for the very banal reason that we have a need ourselves. So there is a lot of spontaneity involved. But we have to be much more calculated when it comes to implementation. The search for the perfect local production partner, for suitable packaging and then the production process, in which we slowly approach the ideal idea of our desired product.
EM Why did you decide to continue with the name Favorit, for your studio?
SJ Because I run the brand Favorit & Co and many of the studio projects together with my partner Andi Zellweger, I knew early on that I don’t want to stand for it with my name and that we need a fantasy name instead. Favorit was originally a small hip clothing store and a café that Andi had run in Zurich since 2005. He had taken the name at that time from a leftover from the previous tenant, an ancient sign of a laundry place. So after building Favorit & Co, it was only logical to adopt this name for the studio as well. I could now try to make a creative connection between the word Favorit and the studio services, but that would be pulled out of a hat. There’s not much more to it than that. Whether as a name for a store, a brand, a typeface, or a studio. I simply like Favorit.
EM What kind of projects would you like to do more of, now that you’ve established your work under this name?
SJ Through our reference project Favorit & Co, we were asked by some brands to develop the products and the brand for them. Interestingly, we have slipped into a certain niche as a result, and even during the initial discussions, it turns out that they would like everything to be black and white and as reduced as possible. In other words, they approach us with certain expectations. But we try to avoid exactly this trap of copying ourselves. Of course, we remain true to a certain style and we are currently working mainly on projects in the packaging area. But we don’t want to limit ourselves to the type of projects. For me, the most beautiful projects are those in which I am not a supplier but as close as can be to the client and feel like a part of the team. This type of collaboration has proven to be successful and I would like to continue to maintain it in this way.
EM Can you give us insight into your work for Sanbera that’s published on your website?
SJ Sanbera manufactures natural plant-based nutritional supplements in Switzerland. A product that helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle by supporting you in slowing down from time to time and bringing your life in a better balance. And exactly this feeling should manifest itself not only physically, but also visually. That’s why we are working on creating a visual world that transmits this calmness and harmony. Where material, design elements, colours, images and packaging are in line. Due to our similar views and ways of thinking, a very close relationship has evolved between Favorit and Sanbera. We develop the entire brand environment on the basis of this very similar vision. This is exactly what I was talking about earlier – we do more than just packaging – we develop a brand and its vision together piece by piece and we get to be part of this wonderful journey. We are currently redesigning the packaging and can’t wait until the products come to life with the new look.
EM The paragraph on the site where you mention things like ‘Perfect overdone,’ ‘Less over more,’ ‘Makeover talk,’ etc, really resonates with me and what we try to do here at TBI. What was the thinking behind it?
SJ It was clear to me from the start that I didn’t want to create a classic website – more a scrolling experience. That’s why I didn’t want to overboard the text, but rather get to the heart of what we stand for with just a few words. I can’t stand extensive website texts and I, therefore, strive for simplicity. I think we are not a typical creative studio and we do not see ourselves as a supplier of a service. We want to create value together. Sometimes that happens over several weeks, but sometimes it happens from the gut in just five minutes. And often detailed strategies, complex briefings and preliminaries kill this ‘gut feeling.’ I know I already talked about Massimo Vignelli in our last interview, but at this point, a little anecdote he told me with shining eyes comes to mind. He said that many years ago he had received an important commission for a very prestigious international company. Right after the first meeting, he strolled through a bazaar. There he spotted an antique saucer that had a very graphic symbol on the bottom. He knew immediately that this had to be the new logo for the company and adopted it one-to-one. Without even going into a design process. This is one of my favourite stories because it shows that while you are always receptive, sometimes you just have to make it instead of thinking or talking about it for too long. By the way, to this day I’m still thinking about which logo that was!
|Graphic & Product Design|