Type plus: TwoPoints interview
Can you talk about the approach that underpins the studio?
Our studio is driven by academic and professional research. Everyday
learning is quality of life for us. Lupi is writing a dissertation
about design education at the design school of Ulm and i am finishing
mine about visual systems for flexible visual identities. When we
receive a commission at TwoPoints we always make sure that there is
enough time (and money) for analyse, research and experiments. If we
wouldn’t have this time we would start repeating ourselves or (even
worse) other peoples work, and that’s just redundant and irrelevant.
We hope to create relevant work.
Where does your unusual and distinctive studio name come from?
TwoPoints, the design studio, was founded in 2007 by Lupi and me, but
it acctually exists since the year 2000. TwoPoints.Net emerged in 2000
as a platform for experimental projects. The name TwoPoints refers to
the colon found German and Spanish that marks the transition between
between the speaker and his message. We see our work on visual
communication such as the two points between the sender and the
receiver. The additional Net demonstrates that in spite of being a
small office, we oversee large-scale projects that involve a network
of excellent professionals from diverse fields; a network that changes
according to each project.
How do you split your duties between the two of you? Does each
of you have a clearly defined role?
The boundries of our roles are flowing, like we are doing the concept
always together, but over the years we recognized that Lupi is better
at choosing colors and i am better at creating form. There is a very
nice quote from Karl Gerstner. “Form is the body of color, color is
the soul of form.”
You have two studios – one in Barcelona and one in Berlin – can
you explain how this works? Is there a difference in the type of work
the two studios produce?
We spend every summer in Berlin and every winter in Barcelona, like
migrant birds. The conceptual and creative work is done by us in
Barcelona, but we have a big network of developers, architects,
industrial designers and writers in Berlin. TwoPoints is a very small
office. We chose to be and stay small to live the life we want.
Type Plus is a book that looks at designers who are combing type
with image to create a third augmented or enhanced meaning. Not all
your work is in this area, but some of it – such as the BCNMCR poster
– fits this description well. Can you talk about this poster and why
the letterforms are ‘interfered’ with?
Typefaces are visual systems which are used to communicate. Not just
the meaning of recognized letters or words and their combinations play
a role in communication, the aesthetics of a typeface communicate too.
The idea for the visual system for the BCNMCR poster came from a
critique we had towards nowadays flexible visual identities (FVI).
Systems are often understood as the automization of the application of
a visual identity. We think that this is a huge mistake. Intuition,
talent and taste can’t be automised and are essential to visual
communication. We believe systems’s need to be understood as tools,
rather than machines for the execution. The visual system we developed
for this poster series allows the designer to intervene in the
application process. In other words, being able to design your own
typefaces gives you a powerful tool for communication.
Typography is a recurring feature of your work – can you talk
about your typographic principles?
Our only principle is not to be redundant. Redundant with our
trajectory and redundant with history. Which does not mean that we
aren’t aware of the giants on which’s shoulders we are standing.
You have produced a number of excellent design books. How does
authorship and book design fit in with your everyday commercial studio
To do books is very time consuming and in comparison with designing
visual identities not very lucrative. But we love books, to read them,
to look at them, to touch them, to smell them. Now being able to edit
and design our own books feels like a gift. We get the chance to
dedicate time to a subject we are interested in and consider relevant.
Once the book is printed and sold it becomes a document of time. If we
did our work well, people will develop a relationship to the books
like we did to other books. Only printed books are able to create
You both teach – what does teaching bring to your studio practice?
The three basic pillars of TwoPoints are Learn, Teach and Apply. Learn stands for academic and professional research, Apply for our design work at TwoPoints and Teach for us teaching under the name Design Werkstatt. We teach since 2005. First only short workshops at different international design institutions, festivals and congresses. Later as regular teachers at five different design school in Barcelona and since 2009 we designed, organized and directed two different postgraduate and master degrees. The experiences we made, raised a question: How should design be learned nowadays? Design Werkstatt is our answer.
You also run workshops – Design Werkstatt (Design Workshop) – can you tell us about these?
DW offers two longer courses of 70 hours in Barcelona: Visual Systems for Flexible Visual Identities, taught by me and Cristobal Castilla, and Swiss Typography & Editorial Projects taught by Lupi. In addition, it runs two-week courses in Berlin, as well as a series of shorter workshops in different countries – DW visited Rotterdam, Berlin,
Manila, Jordan and Doha, for example. The workshop formula is good for people to get interested and inspired, and get them out of the daily workflow, but if you really want to learn something you need to take some time. That’s sometimes difficult if you work already, but there’s always a way to do it.
Who inspires you from the world of graphic design – and beyond?
Everything can be an inspiration, but right now we are very fascinated with articles, books and works from the 70ties by artists, architects and designers. Like for example this book by Gyorgy Kepes, „Module, Proportion, Symmetry, Rhythm“. We bought it in Strand (NYC), had it laying around for years, but never realised what a treasure this book is.