Studio Bruch on overcoming the key challenges they face as a small and independent design studio
Studio Bruch is an internationally-awarded design studio based in the Austrian city of Graz – co-founded by Kurt Glänzer and Josef Heigl. They think, develop and design visual worlds for brands, products and institutions, always looking to explore something new in the process. Having collaborated with them via The Templates and featured their identity for Salzburg hotel The Mozart, we thought it was about time we spoke to Kurt and Josef in more detail to hear about their background, and what it takes to run a small studio.
EM Why did you guys decide to start a studio together?
SB First of all – we knew each other for quite a long time and we always appreciated each other. So after we both got into the situation of being self-employed, we met for a few beers and we were spinning ideas about what would happen if we start to collaborate.
We figured out quite fast, that we share the same mindset and a common idea about what we think a good design approach is:
To be involved in the whole process.
For both of us, it was crucial to be involved in the whole design process and to finalise our brand/design concepts unfiltered – from the kick-off together with the client to the final implementation to reach the point where we are happy with the outcome. We love to cooperate closely with our clients to ensure no information gets lost and to gain a full understanding of each project.
EM What parts of running a small studio do you find the most difficult?
SB At the beginning, we had to start with a blank page. On the one hand, we were not allowed to show our previous projects and on the other hand, we had nothing that will communicate the way we think. This was kind of difficult, but we continuously evolved with each project and yes, now we are quite satisfied :)
Another thing is the client’s perception of a small studio. We had situations where the client finally turned to a big agency, not because of the design quality, but because of the size and we thought: oh no, size does matter. Just kidding. But this is not a ‘big’ issue anymore, because our projects and also our awarded work helped us to show, that excellent design is not tied to the size of a company.
But, we have to admit, that being basically a two-man band, administration, project management, creation and even cleaning the studio can be sometimes quite busy.
EM How closely does the status quo of the studio reflect what you wanted it to become when you started out?
SB Puhhhhh, difficult question. If we could tell our previous versions that nine years later, we are quite a respected and successful (still running) design company, we are sure, they would be very very happy and super satisfied. And yes, we are happy too. Even more. Being able to spend our day on something we love and also earn one’s living is a privilege. But we know, there is always air up and we still aim to improve in various fields. So we are excited about what the future Studio Bruch will do and where it leads us.
It is so crucial to us to communicate the idea and the quality we put into our work.
EM A lot of thought seems to go into the presentation of your work – why is that important to you?
SB Because it is so crucial to us to communicate the idea and the quality we put into our work. We take our time and consider the various materials and settings that could support the final outcome. Most of the time, we shot the photographs ourselves but sometimes it also makes sense to do it with the photographer we already collaborated on that certain project. Nevertheless in the end we need to make sure that you get the right feeling and a perfect insight of it and hopefully convinces a potential client to give us a call.
And we were quite flattered when The Templates contacted us to collaborate on their mockup portfolio.
EM Congrats on the relaunch of your website! What led you in this direction?
SB Thank you Elliott, we are so happy, that we finally made it.
Before, we had a flashing red and black background – and so we thought, giving our projects a bit more light and lightness again would be a good decision. We also wanted it to be more approachable for potential clients and easier to dive into our projects – to get a fast overview of the details and holistic concepts that we are always keen on creating.
EM How was the process of designing and developing it, compared to a client project?
SB First, we were quite efficient in creating the new direction, but then, we kind of lost track (because there were of course also client projects to work on and calls, etc. to make). Time flies and then we had to overthink a lot of things again and we did have quite some changes and improvements and lot of detailed work. And, it is not just the design process – all the content creation is so much work.
So, compared to a client project, we were definitely not able to stay focused all the time as there are always some other things more important – so it took us quite a while. But, we can compare it to a wine, it aged and got better.
Being able to spend our day on something we love and also earn one’s living is a privilege.
EM Do you have a project that precisely represents the future direction you would like for Studio Bruch?
SB Honestly: no. We are a mix of all the new projects and the next ones need to be different and fresh again. We really try not to repeat ourselves – we also hate it to work with the same typeface twice (well, it happens sometimes) but it is so great trying to come up with something you have not seen in that certain way before.
But, we do feel, that type design becomes more important in all our projects – it is a shame, we still did not make it to publish our latest typefaces we created – but so we do hope, you will give our website a new chance and stop by again.
EM What’s the creative culture like in Graz?
SB The architecture, music and literature scenes have a long history and have grown a lot. Design is a more recent branch. And as a UNESCO City of Design, however, there are many impulses to communicate design in the city and to give creative people a platform. But of course, you notice very strongly that many people go to a larger city, e.g. Vienna, after their studies. We would like to see more diversity there. It is therefore important to close these gaps and create incentives so that Graz becomes even more interesting.