Interview with Balmer Hählen
Interview with Priscilla Balmer and Yvo Hählen, founders of the Lausanne based design studio Balmer Hählen.
LIGATURE: Hello Priscilla and Yvo how are you?
Balmer Hählen: Very well, it’s a year with big changes for us.
L: You recently changed your studio’s name from A3 Studio to Balmer Hählen. Can you tell us why?
BH: With Balmer Hählen, our duo wishes to highlight its complementarity and personality. This new name meets the desire to have an identity for ourselves. Indeed, we noticed that there is a multitude of offices around the world with a name similar to A3 Studio, working in various fields. Because of this, our studio was regularly associated with images without any relationship with us. With this change, we also wanted to affirm our Swiss German origins. Effectively, our desire is to work throughout Switzerland and not only in Swiss French part.
L: Beside commissions works you also put an important point on collaborations with industrial and fashion designers for example. What’s your approach on these projects?
BH: Since our creation, our studio has always invested in collaborations. Discovering new environments, learning and above all exchanging skills, this set is for us essential. It’s a way to share our common passion for design in the broadest meaning of the term. This artistic exploration allows our studio to develop on different types of media. For the furniture design brand Marlo & Isaure, we have created a visual on a rug tufted by hand. And more recently we have collaborated with Swiss designer Laure Paschoud by creating a pattern for her Spring/Summer collection.
L: You won the competition to design the identity of the 2019 edition of the famous Swiss event Fête des Vignerons. How did you manage the design of such a project?
BH: Winning this identity contest is for us the best reward we could wish. Indeed, the Fête des Vignerons is a unique celebration in the world that takes place once per generation in Vevey. It is a manifestation registered since 2017 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The first step of the project was to realize the institutional identity, for which we developed a typographical logo with a ligature referring to the spin of a vine. We chose a font of Swisstypefaces, which was redesigned in collaboration with the foundry. For the prints, we selected papers referring to the ground. The red color, refers to the Confrérie des Vignerons’ logo, organizer of the event. It was important for us to find printing techniques that will sublimate both the papers and the graphic design, it is why we chose the printing press to make the business cards and greeting card heralding the new identity.
L: You also have an interesting client which is the event Rendez-vous des Créateurs. Can you explain to us the collaborating work you do with the Créateurs?
BH: We pay a special attention to the quality of our prints. Indeed, we devote a cult to beautiful prints. In 2015, nine professionals from the branch entrust us with the artistic direction and the organization of the “Rendez-vous des créateurs”, an annual event that presents the skills of Swiss craftsmen in the graphic arts chain. With these specialists, we had the chance to explore different printing techniques. Our work relies on these techniques, to confront them with a contemporary graphic approach. From this confrontation emerges at the same time a visual dialogue, certainly, but also sensorial.
Concerning the communication of the event 2017, our idea at first was to reverse the process, that the printing technique takes over the graphic design, going as far as taming the paper.
L: Poster design is also one of your best assets. The number of poster competitions where you have been awarded or selected is impressive. Would you like to tell us more about one of your favorite poster design?
BH: Poster is actually one of our favorite communication media. It’s hard to talk about a favorite poster design. We can talk about one which is interesting in its conception. The poster produced in 2016 for the exhibition “Achrome. Piero Manzoni, la peinture sans couleur” for the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne. The exhibition brought together nearly 70 pieces, focused on the Achromes, white monochrome works. Our starting point is to print the white in silkscreen, in order to be consistent with the work of Piero Manzoni. However, a white poster would not have much impact in an urban context. So we completed with black and a silver ink that changes in brightness according to the angle of view. The poster becomes evolutionary, it changes its appearance at the will of passers-by ranging from silver to white.