DEUTSCHE & JAPANER — Interview
Deutsche & Japaner is a talented Mannheim-based design and communication studio. The four designers (Moritz Firchow, David Wolpert, Ina Yamaguchi and Julian Zimmermann) work on various disciplines such as graphic design, product design, or scenography. Awarded several times, they developed the studio after the creation of the excellent arcademi.com website. They talk to us about some of their projects and their approach of design.
Update 29.06 : We are proud to say that this post is our hundredth interview.
Hello Deutsche & Japaner, how are you?
Fine, thank you very much. And you?
Fine thanks. Who are the designers behind Deutsche & Japaner?
We are: Moritz Firchow, David Wolpert, Ina Yamaguchi, Julian Zimmermann.
How did you come to start up the studio?
Actually D&J was built as a consequence of developing arcademi.com. While working together on the blog, Ina Yamaguchi and Moritz Firchow soon faced new projects as for example a shop concept in Zurich, Switzerland. As these very first tasks demanded a skill set including graphic and product design, the next steps were obvious that each of us took care of one of these fields. Meeting all kinds of different requests and wishes, D&J tooks an early chance of redefining things as we were joined by David Wolpert and Julian Zimmermann directly from university.
What do you like about your working and your living place?
The perfect working situation always is, when we have the feeling of understanding the whole idea behind the client immediately, being birds of a feather and wanting to push things over the top. This works best if a client is willing to be surprised and has a general sense of curiosity. So much for the joy in client work. Generally we all love the fact of facing new experiences with every task, from different contexts to productions and materials. Our living place : That is a hard question, we all love the city and the area, although some of us come from different places and have spent time in other cities. As always, there are advantages and disadvantages, but we currently feel very comfortable here in Mannheim.
What is your experience and approach to design?
We like to understand design in a lively way, developing through different media. A concept of trying to create a sort of pool of elements, maybe the idea of a distinguished wardrobe in comparison to a closet of uniforms. Stiff manuals can limit the message, sometimes even to a degree of lacking contemporariness. It’s not about propagating anarchist design, rules can be precious, but approaching every medium and task with its own focus and escaping a dogmatic system can make sense. A profound understanding for the client and his efforts is a clear requirement for fitting uniquely to a certain image and context.
You did a series of handcrafted items with your “A Darling Accessory” project. What are your interests in fashion and product design ?
First of all these series are ongoing, there will be new accessories coming up very now and then. When things come to design, being a designer, one has a natural sense for contemporary design, apart from the discipline. I mean, how could we be designing expressions on paper or communicating an image on a website, while not knowing about certain codes. So fashion and products are everyday surroundings, a great joy, always interesting always changing fast and classy at the same time.
You worked on various disciplines like scenography, product design, branding and art direction. How do you process in your work?
We always try to use the force of our team and the different skills of everyone. In the beginning of a project everybody participate with ideas and concepts. Because of the totally different backgrounds of each of us the approaches differ as well very much. We enjoy this creative variety which is the base of unusual and innovative solutions. The rest of the project is executed by a small team which fits best to the task. We probably think that’s not very different to any other studio.
Is there any designer or movement you appreciate a lot?
Oh there is so many people we love and admire, I guess mentioning a few would definitely lead to neglecting others and feeling bad and incomplete.
Which advice would you give to the next generation of designers?
Seriously, we feel more like receiving advices and still learning from mistakes while developing, but if you want an answer it would be, not to hustle folks, take your time and love whatever happens, every little step is important. Actually a quote comes to my mind that matches perfectly: work hard, have fun, no drama.
Which books are on your bedside table?
On all of ours? Let’s lie and stick to Art Book Fair Basel’s comment, “I never read”.
The last word …
Thank you ligature and biggie smalls for mayor!
Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 06.13
All the pictures are ©Deutsche & Japaner.
(Jay-Z : creative direction Willo Perron & Associates / Christina Romowa : Collaboration with Marcel Kamps / Automne : Collaboration with Amos Fricke)