With more than 10 years of experience working in various agencies and design studios, Gertrude is now ready to venture further into the creative industry as the creative director of Studio Bien Bien.
Q: Could you tell us the story behind Studio Bien Bien?
A: The studio started out about two years ago as part of a leap for me to go freelance. To be honest, Studio Bien Bien took quite a while to come into form. I always find it difficult to create designs when I am my own boss. At first, it was a struggle to come up with a name and brand identity that perfectly represented my studio. The idea of Studio Bien Bien became clear to me based on the following three principles: Good work, Diversity in Solution, and Playfulness. And, that is how Studio Bien Bien came to be.
Q: What is the creative arts scene like in Hong Kong?
A: The Hong Kong creative arts scene is growing strong and is more exciting than ever. Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram, a lot of young studios, designers and artists are getting recognition Internationally through IG design curators and blogs. In recent years, the city is more exposed to art inspirations like the Hong Kong Arts Month, Art Basel, and other International artist exhibitions. Having these accessibilities are great for the creative mind.
Q: The red packets you designed for Harbour City has a very traditional yet modern look to it. How did the idea come about?
A: Red packets are often designed only for the particular year of the Chinese Zodiac signs, and would be obsolete for the year to come. The main goal was to create a design that would stay relevant, timeless and sustainable, something that could be used no matter what year it was. I also wanted to create something that breaks away from the traditional envelope format, so why not a playful twist? The concept for the Year of the Pig was inspired by the simple excitement of getting your wallet ‘well-fed’ during the festive celebration. The design honours the tradition of the Chinese clasp purse with the contemporary use of bold colours and graphics. Each design is a graphic interpretation of the New Year greetings of good fortune and prosperity.
Q: You have several branding and identity work under your belt. What is your creative thought process like when you need to come up with a brand identity?
A: Each project involves a sufficient amount of communication and research in the very beginning. We focus on creating a strong concept-driven narrative for each project before the crafting begins. Story-telling is as important as the aesthetic of the visual language. It’s about thinking beyond the functionality of products and services, and striving for loyalty and meaningful bonds with your audience.
Q: Which project did you find it a challenge to handle or come up with ideas for?
A: So far, the projects that we’ve come across went pretty well. I would say the most challenging part of coming up with an idea is when the client is not 100% sure of what they are looking for. I am sure a lot of designers have come across situations where the client is not concrete on their thoughts, and end up wasting a lot of time in revision rounds to guess what they really want. What we would do is to take a step back with them and have a brainstorming session to discover what their target is, their audience, and so on. This exercise is often very helpful for both parties in making creative and business decisions down the road.
Q: There’s a saying that goes “less is more”. Do you think that applies when it comes to design, and why?
A: I am a strong believer of “less is more”. One of my favourite quotes from Dick Bruna, who is a respected Dutch author, illustrator and graphic design influencer, goes; “If you put very few things on a page, you leave lots of room for the imagination.” A good design is the art of making sense of the complexity. A good design digests information and filters messages that one wants to communicate in the most simplistic form.