Inspiration

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Focal Point: Mixing old & new with Say What Studio

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Benoit Berger and Nathalie Kapagiannidi are the creative duo behind Say What Studio. The pair mix vintage styles with modern designs to create super fresh typography, art direction and design from their Paris studio. We asked them about their unique take on old and new...

Tell us about Say What Studio. How did you came about, what do you create? 

We created Say What Studio almost 5 years ago - as soon as we graduated from art school. We wanted to start our own practice right away, but people seemed to think we should start by working in large companies to gain experience. We’re glad we chose to listen to our passion instead!

We are drawn to print design, our main activity resides in branding editorial design and lettering. We work with both small and big entities, what matters the most is the quality of the work we provide.

How did you guys come up with your name?

We were looking for a name for days, maybe weeks. It’s such a complicated process because it’s one of the biggest decisions you make. After hours of brainstorming and idea dropping, we came up with Say What Studio and it just clicked. At least we won’t be confused with anyone else!

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How do you share your skills? Who is better at what?

Benoit has invested himself in lettering and typography. This hand made, precise process reminds us of the importance of preliminary freehand sketching and composition - prior to working on computerised final versions of our work. That’s the case whether it’s a logotype or a more complex item.

Meanwhile, alongside branding and print, Nathalie has found herself face to face with a completely different world of digital design - exploring web creations, usually flat and very much inspired by editorial vibes.

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Tell us about your desk space 

We share the same desk (it’s big enough for the both of us!), but there’s a clear line in the middle. Benoit’s side reflects his methods and is an utter mess with many tools scattered all over and ten erasers piled up in the corner. Nathalie’s side is much more orderly. Maybe too uncluttered, some might say?! Other than a few Post-it notes here and there, everything is organised.

You guys work quite a lot in very classic forms what is it about the traditional that appeals to you?

We do appreciate a mix of vintage styles and modern designs. We always seek to produce an uncluttered and minimalist design that is strong and recognisable. Each project helps us develop and refine our creative universe, which informs new designs. A coherence between our projects is essential.

If you were both only allowed to continue working with one material for the rest of your career, what would you choose?

Probably a pencil and tracing paper. They’re both of our primary tools and they were used to create lettering and logotypes way before computers were even a thing. Transfer methods are also really useful because they can be stored and returned to if you want to re-draw the design again, or to use as a solid base from which to make the design evolve in a different way.

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How do you keep your ideas fresh?

We may be designers, but above all we are passionate about printed media. We are very inspired by books, beautifully designed layouts, fanzines and magazines, especially uncluttered and pure lines. We both travel as much as we can and always bring back lots of printed materials including local newspapers, packaging and booklets - anything that feeds our brains!

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How does Paris inform your work? Are there any other places around the world you like to work in?

Paris is a great city. But truth be told we are always pulled towards New York. Its multi-inspirational atmosphere, history and culture make it an ideal place to work from. At the moment we visit as often as possible.

What would you say the Paris of today is like for designers?

The local design scene is very active. There are lots of people, studios and collectives working and operating with their own styles. There’s no competition as such, rather collective advances that allow the Parisian design scene to wear many styles and to speak more and more of its artists.

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