One look at Spencer Fenton’s vaseline slick website got us wanting to hear more from the east London-based design studio. We spoke to the duo behind the portmanteau, Haakon Spencer and Matthew Fenton.
We are Haakon Spencer and Matthew Fenton, we founded the studio in 2012 after completing an MA in Type Design and Art Direction at ECAL in Switzerland. The studio is based in London, where we work with commissions and collaborators in the cultural and commercial fields across the disciplines of graphic design, art direction and type design.
What themes would you say define the studio’s output?
This is something we have been giving a lot of thought to recently and still trying to define. Formally speaking, we have always considered that letters, the smallest unit in our toolkit as an essential part of our work. Our understanding of a historical context combined with a progressive forward looking approach also informs our practice. Our process has always been to focus on the content as a logical starting point and allow that to inform the design direction rather than employing a defined style of expression.
Like many of our peers, we believe in the utilisation of restrictions to allow us to create and guide our work, that said we are comfortable to break free of these and just as happy to rely on intuition and feeling which we believe only comes with experience, trust and understanding. If a project permits we will make use of idiosyncrasies and layers in our work we don’t mind if the work we make can be interpreted in a number of ways.
What inspires you in your work?
The visual arts are always an inspiration, as well as music and literature, we like to be informed and inspired by areas outside of our immediate sphere.
We recently returned from the US after spending three months in New York, Chicago and LA, the opportunity to travel placing ourselves in a context outside of our norm inspires us to see things anew.
Our peers and friends are also a big inspiration to us, we often enter dialogue with people from other disciplines, of different nationalities and backgrounds so it is interesting to discover different approaches and processes in relation to creativity.
Tell us about one of your most exciting recent projects.
We recently completed a type design project which involved the creation of a new word-marque for a very famous individual. They were probably the most unexpected person we could have imagined working for but it turned out to be one of the most satisfying projects. We look forward to seeing it out in the real world.
Finally, what have you got in the pipeline?
We are about to start work on art directing a series of photo shoots with a very talented jewellery designer. Alongside this, we are working on the creation of a type foundry called British Standard Types which will focus on providing a custom type service as well as selling select typefaces.
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