Interview with Johanne Roten


Interview with Swiss graphic designer Johanne Roten.

Ligature: Hello Johanne how are you?

Johanne Roten: I’m fine, thanks. Finally spring is back! New exciting collaborations to come and maybe soon a move to a beautiful studio near the lake.

L: Can you introduce yourself?

JR: Sure. My name is Johanne Roten. I’m a Swiss graphic designer, based in Lausanne and graduated from ECAL/university of art and design in 2014. I come from the Walliser mountains. I have my own graphic design studio since 2016. I like black tea with a touch of milk, cacti, sun, horror movies, gin tonic and my little Boston Terrier Marty (Mcfly).

L: Where does your interest in design come from?

JR: Mh. I always knew that I wanted to work in the cultural field, but for a little while I didn’t know in what way. I drew a lot when I was a child and during my teenage years I made a lot of big collages. At that time I was totally inspired by skateboarding and snowboarding magazines. I did my gymnasium studies in visual arts because of course I was drawn to it, but also because I was a hopeless case in mathematics. Then, I tried a marketing school but I quickly realized that it didn’t suit me at all. I understood at this moment what I really wanted to do because I had once a week a module of graphic design. So, in 2011, I showed up at the ECAL without ending my previous formation – no regrets!

L: Can you tell us more about the Triennale Valais project? What was the idea of the identity?

JR: Many things to do in a short time, especially for the amount of objects/ declinations, BUT a very good experience.

The idea for this 4th edition was to translate the intention of the curators: the exhibition at this extraordinary spot (highway rest areas are usually art-free zones) offered the chance to break the usual codes. The Triennale was an exit road, a cultural detour. So I decided to distort road signs, with various levels of reading, to give the impression that we get closer and closer, as if we were driving a car.

I worked on the exhibition catalog with Inès Dal Soglio and Ali-Eddine Abdelkhalek on the website, both classmates and friends from school. It was great!

L: Would you like to talk about another of your recent project? 

JR: I realized the identity for the exhibition “Tristes Anthropiques” of Le Cabanon, a small gallery in Lausanne. I had carte blanche and the opportunity to indulge myself while meeting the needs of the client at the same time. I was able to make exactly what I had in mind. So nice.

L: How challenging is to be a freelance designer in Switzerland today?

JR: It’s a big challenge! So many talented graphic designers in Switzerland, I mean like in other countries, but it’s an important scene, with big graphic design offices, great schools, independent studios and freelance designers. Nevertheless, I think there is always something to do, projects with high potential. I think that today, there are always more men than women graphic designers, or at least more recognized men than women. It’s something I hope I can contribute to, to evolve in the good direction. Both can realize relevant and crazy projects.

Dennis Moya


©Johanne Roten

Graphic Design