Philip Möckli, swiss graphic designer currently working at mainstudio, Amsterdam.

— Hello Philipp, how are you?

Very good thanks! Right now I’m at I Never Read Art Book Fair for a few days. So I’m surrounded by books, there is beer and a lot of interesting people.

— Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Philipp, I’m 26 years old. Currently I’m living most of the time in Amsterdam, where I work at mainstudio. Beside that I’m working for my own clients and doing some free projects besides. Ever since I studied „Visual Communications“ in Basel I focus upon typography. I like to think in systems and work with grids and type. I always try to come up with a simple visual concept, within I have enough freedom to experiment.

— Where does your interest in graphic design come from?

I think my interest in graphic design has to do with my attitude and the way my brain is naturally used to think. I feel an urge to always challenge myself, question everything and take pleasure in constant change. Graphic design gives me the possibility to never stop discovering new things, because there will never ever be the ultimate „solution“. For me the fun is to search my own ways of designing and also try to surprise myself during that process.

Furthermore, graphic design gives me the opportunity to work with other fields I’m really interested in, like: architecture, art, music, theatre or even scientific and political topics. In the end that’s why working in the cultural field is the only option for me. Also because I believe that this niche provides a playground for experiments and trying out new things.

— Can you tell us more about the magazine you founded with Max Frischknecht, Konsens Magazin?

The project started in a very natural way. Somehow Max and I started hanging out. Since we’re both graphic designers, we obviously talked a lot about design. But we also found out that we’re both having a strong opinion about politics and society. After some flirting on a professional level (not to confuse with professional flirting), we decided to work together. A few evenings and beers later, the idea of Konsens Magazin was born.
We both are convinced, that we as designers should take part in public discussions by using the tools we have and our way of thinking and communicating. Konsens Magazin is a facilitator for the critical dialogue between graphic arts and social, even political problems. We want to let the reader form his own opinion about one topic per issue. The content, which is developed with a team and editors, comes together with the visual form to provoke, question things, show new perspectives and start a discussion.

Besides all that, it’s nice to have you’re own project, where you have absolute freedom to do whatever you like. The magazine provides us some variety in our work, and we learn so much about writing and publishing.

— Do you have a favorite typeface to work with?

Since I’m mostly working on books or identities, I’m not interested in font „trends“. A typeface, which I can already feel that it’s going to be outdated in a year, is not interesting to me. Anyhow, I still like to work with new typefaces. You can of course spend hours talking about the character of a typeface. But for me in the end it’s often an intuition which leads to a font choice. Recently, I like to work with Patron and Basis Grotesque. They are both quite dominant (maybe a bit aggressive), have a dynamic I like, appear in dark way and have some playful twists in the details. On the other hand I also like more „constructed“ typefaces like Akzidenz Grotesk or Theinhardt. But I also appreciate older fonts like Gerard Ungers Swift for example, which I think works super well in almost every size.

— Is there any designer you appreciate a lot?

I think we still can learn a lot from the old „guard“, not by copying their work, but adapting their way of working and transfer it in to current time. I appreciate Karl Gerstner a lot for his systematics, Wolfgang Weingart for his way of using typography, and Armin Hofmann and Emil Ruder for their simple and time-consistent ideas and usage of type.
I’m only interested in designers with an attitude. I prefer characters who take up position, have a clear opinion or even a manifesto about their way of designing. I like to have a dialog with such people, also if their personal attempt is totally different from mine. However my inspiration comes most of the time from art or daily life, rarely from the work of other designers.

— Is there a book or a manifesto which opened your eyes about design?

Studying in Basel and learning typography in the tradition of all these guys of the „Basler Schule“ certainly had an influence on me. Next to a „proper“ treatment of type, maybe the most important thing I learned of all this books is: graphic design is not about making beautiful things and that I have to come up with my own opinion what graphic design is about. So for me it’s always about the concept and even more important, about the visual appearance of that concept. I think that background is also part of the reason why I’m not interested in trends or styles.
Thinking about it, I maybe want to write my own manifesto. I think it’s going to talk about limitations, systems, consistency, grids and the importance intuition.

— The last word…

Thank you for having me and letting me put my thoughts into words. See you soon hopefully.

Pictures and projects by Philip Möckli. Portrait by Benjamin van Witsen.

Interview: Dennis Moya + Tiffany Bähler, 06.16


Graphic Design