• Bureau2

    Introducing… The studio of Mathis Pfäffli

Graphic Design

Introducing... We get up close and personal with the talented Mathis Pfäffli

Posted by James Cartwright,

Mathis Mathis Pfäffli is very, very good at what he does. And what he does is flipping great graphic design. Want proof? Right this minute he’s undertaking a residency in Chicago in which he’s paid and housed in return for creating personal work on a daily basis. Nobody gives you a house and a wage to make things unless you’re really great at it. That’s just a fact.

Mathis’ visual style is deeply playful and draws as much inspiration from 3D work and illustration as it does from traditional graphic design. Yes he’s got polished typographic skills and an understanding of grids that most of us would balk at, but his work is peppered with inviting illustrative elements and coloured textures that demand your attention in a very immediate way.

Like all great creatives Mathis has a strict daily routine to which he adheres in order to maintain the standard of his work, and he explains it in great detail below…

  • Spelling1

    Mathis Pfäffli: Spelling Dystopia

  • Spelling2

    Mathis Pfäffli: Spelling Dystopia

  • Spelling8

    Mathis Pfäffli: Spelling Dystopia

Where do you work?

Since the end of my studies four years ago, I turned into a kind of a nomad in my working and living habits. The past year I spent basically in Leipzig because of some book projects I was working on. Somehow over the last three years this city has turned into a kind of second home. So practically I’d say I work between Lucerne and Leipzig. 

Lucerne is the place where I have my family and tons of age-old friendships. There I also founded the studio “Detektiv Bureau” together with my friends Nadine Gerber, Daniel Peter and Christopher Barmettler. That quickly turned into an Offspace, and almost every other week we organized readings, exhibitions or philosophical discussions. We even published small editions of publications which we riso-printed at the Südpol, a cultural centre in Lucerne for which we all designed posters at that time. 

Leipzig is another story; it has a lot to offer for a young graphic designer because of the deep humility on the tradition of graphic design surrounding the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts, and the serious discussions about it. It’s something I learn a lot from. 

How does your working day start?

My typical working day in Leipzig starts usually in the next-door coffee shop, where I read the newspaper. That’s really important, I think it’s a way of combing my thoughts in the morning. Later I drop into the studio where everyone is already at work. I’m always a bit later, usually I start actual working at about 11 am. Since my partners and customers are all in different places, I need to deal a lot by Skype and Dropbox which takes a lot of time, especially when you’re also interested in the latest gossip. 

How do you work and how has that changed?

Earlier I was kind of a ’"do it yourself" guy. I really liked to make things with my hands; cutting stuff out, pouring paint, sawing logs of wood apart. That had a great influence on my work which was pretty illustrative and handmade at that time. But because of the lack of a permanent studio I had to reduce the amount of physical work, which is a bit of a pity.

I’d say I’m still fighting material battles at the beginning of a project, but now in a more digital way. I usually make tons of designs and often have to change everything several times during the realisation. My working practice is also affected by side projects I take on.

For example right now I’m staying in Chicago in a studio in the middle of Wicker Park where I do nothing but self-initiated projects. Until December Nadine and I will produce some art-related projects, and that will certainly have some influence on my future design as well.

Where would we find you when you’re not at work?

I have the pleasure to say that most of the time I don’t feel like being at work since most people I work with are actual friends; that’s why it’s possible to work and be silly at the same time. But when I’m not at the studio I like to have lengthy dinners with friends, hanging out in bars or going to concerts. Actually I’m kind of a music addict and I really miss having a touchable record collection at the moment.

  • Aesthetics1

    Mathis Pfäffli: The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest

  • Aesthetics2

    Mathis Pfäffli: The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest

  • Aesthetics3

    Mathis Pfäffli: The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest

  • Funkamseelittleposter

    Mathis Pfäffli: Funk am See

  • Posterf4largehslu

    Mathis Pfäffli: Werkshau Design & Kunst

  • Posterfavouread_detektivbureau

    Mathis Pfäffli: Favouread # 1

  • Posterneuewinkel_detektivbureau

    Mathis Pfäffli: Neue Winkel

Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Graphic Design View Archive

  1. Chloe-scheffe-modern-times-signs-int-list

    We’re struggling to believe that Chloe Scheffe is still a student: her work is incredibly mature, nuanced and smart. She’s studying at Rhode Island School of Design, which in part explains her brilliant output, and her site is a testament to the quality and breadth of her output. Two very different but equally accomplished projects that caught our eye are some brilliant monochrome posters for a show at the college, which need little explanation, and some signage, which needs a little more.

  2. A2-moscow-int-list

    Somewhat lazily I’ve included an image in this post that concisely explains exactly what Moscow Sans is, who’s created it and why – which pretty much negates this whole piece of text. But in truth it was the best example of the typeface in use that I could find, hence its inclusion with the images below. Anyway, rather than repeating the sentiments of this text I’ll just say how excited I am to see Margaret Calvert lending her expertise to this project and reiterate a widely-held view that Henrik Kubel and Scott Williams are some of the finest typographic designers working today. Enjoy!

  3. Artworklove-jeff-koons-int-list

    You’d struggle to make a big, bright, shiny Jeff Koons balloon dog anything but visually brilliant, but Parisian studio Artworklove has surely done more with it than most, making it the star of some beautifully designed invitations to the artist’s show at the Pompidou centre. The colours, the scale and the stock selected work together beautifully and make a nice introduction to what the studio’s been up to since we last posted about them in 2012, when we flagged up some great art direction using a nice Julia Roberts quip. Other cool noteworthy projects they’ve carried out of late include a great identity for French furniture and homeware site La Chance, which takes a simple icon and colour palette and twists the mark into something more dynamic.

  4. Nbstudio-almeida-int-list

    It’s often the case with design work that the final outcome is quite different in scope to the original brief. So it was for NB Studio, which was originally asked by the Almeida Theatre in London for a brand review and refresh. After what the studio calls “an intensive period of immersion and briefing sessions,” the NB team came back with a more wide-ranging proposal – “It was clear then that this was to be a bold re-brand rather than mere cosmetic enhancement,” they say.

  5. Vg_alphabeta_04

    About seven years ago Village Green produced a series of iconic posters for London’s infamous Fabric nightclub… and then we haven’t checked up on them since. Poor form on our part as they’ve been busy expanding, improving and creating work for bigger and better clients. Currently it seems they’re specialising in architectural branding for commercial property developments, cladding the Alphabeta redevelopment in Finsbury Square, London and The Bonhill Building office spaces on Old Street. Of course they’ve done other stuff too; like the identity and exhibition design for Jean Paul Gaultier’s Barbican show and Nike’s 2013 Hypervenom campaign, but frankly there’s just too much stuff to cover in one article. We’ll be sure to keep closer tabs on these guys in future.

  6. Quimmarin-posters-int-list

    Barcelona-based designer and art director Quim Marin has a strong visual sensibility and a prolific work-rate if scrolling through his site is anything to go by. There’s a load of impressive poster and other print design on there, with particularly effective use of some trendy tropes which can often feel stale in less talented hands. “In such a visually polluted environment I try to come up with fresh and memorable designs with a clear aim at essential beauty and equilibrium that, at the same time, will ensure communicative effectiveness,“ Quim says by way of a mission statement, and it’s hard to sum up his work better than that.

  7. Chevalvert-int-list-2

    You wade into Chevalvert’s portfolio rubbing your hands across your eyes, unsure of what you’ve stumbled across. The Paris-based studio was founded in 2007 by Patrick Paleta and Stéphane Buellet and describes itself as being based on an “open, multidisciplinary approach,” which might go some way to explaining why it feels like a cave laden with treasures. So many treasures.

  8. Fantastic-man-list

    Fantastic Man magazine has been redesigned, as shown in its teaser image of its tenth anniversary issue. The magazine’s new issue cover star JW Anderson has shown the new cover on Instagram, which reveals a new design seeing the masthead run vertically and horizontally, instead of its previous preluder horizontal configuration. The cover image also runs to both sides, moving away from its previous white-edged format. We’re excited to see what changes might have been made to the inside of the mag…

  9. Dwp-bikestock-int-list

    This morning I had a puncture that I couldn’t fix and had to get the train to work, so it feels timely to be writing about Bikestock, a range of vending machines full of cycling essentials that can be found all over New York and Boston. The concept is a simple one; inner tubes, spanners, tyre levers tyres and any number of other little bits and pieces that make your wheels turn smoothly are boshed into a vending machine so you can grab them on the go and, more importantly, at any time of day!

  10. List

    Joost Bos is a recent graduate from the Academie Minerva Groningen in The Netherlands where he’s spent three years studying for his bachelor’s degree. Like many of his Dutch counterparts he’s a dab hand with typography both traditional and experimental and has a plethora of printed pieces in his portfolio. This one, Sequence 1, is an exhibition catalogue for a show of artist books at Joost’s alma mater, which perfectly demonstrates his design sensibilities. Immaculately set type is interspersed with hand-drawn elements and bright colours bring intrigue to an otherwise monochrome publication. Like what you’re seeing? He’s available for freelance work right now!

  11. Sam-coldy-penguin-int-list

    Is it just me or is Penguin killing it at the moment? The publishing house only recently celebrated its 80th birthday by launching a range of its classic titles for 80p each, accompanied by a slick website and a poster campaign which has reached even the furthest corners of London’s transport system. And right now, they’re in the midst of a new campaign called On the Page which celebrates women authors and characters in literary masterpieces.

  12. Karansingh-mop-int-list

    The glorious coming together of pattern, shape and colour makes for a joyous experience and that’s why print designers are held in such high regard. Last week we commissioned Animade to turn three eye-poppingly good Pucci x Orlebar Brown patterns into trippy GIFs, this week we’re turning our attention to profiling creatives we believe are among the best around when it comes to working in this area. We are proud to present these #mastersofprint.

  13. Gerard-marin-int-list

    There’s something of a trend going around at the moment for identities using 3D logo-marks, and with this one by Gerard Marin we can see why. Barcelona-based designer Gerard developed the branding, stationery and corporate materials for interior designer and visual merchandiser Neus Ortiz. Recognisability and malleability were at the forefront of his mind for this project, and the flexible “N,” which changes according to its application, prove a neat solution to both. His is an unfussy aesthetic which lends itself perfectly to branding projects – here’s hoping more make their way to him very soon.