“The world becomes so much more interesting!”: Bernardo Berga on design as problem-solving
Working between Lisbon and Brussels, designer and art director Bernardo Berga of Studio Berga has not only an international operation but also a global clientele.
- Harry Bennett
- 7 October 2021
Having studied design and even starting work full-time in Lisbon, Bernardo Berga felt there was more to explore, and made the move to Ghent to start his master’s in graphic design and typography, where his mind was opened to a revitalised new world of creative thought. “This was one of the most exciting periods of my life,” Bernardo tells us, “it was in Ghent that I started, for the first time, having fun with graphic design.”
Bernardo then took this newfound ardour for the discipline into several internships following his study, noting how decisively influential each collaboration or project was on his practice – from learning new media and having fun with design to learning new skills and self-initiating work. “It was back then that, in parallel, I started developing my own practice,” he recalls, despite never envisioning the freelance creative career he has today. “It’s extremely challenging and stressful to be a freelancer,” Bernardo remarks, “but at the same time so rewarding.” It is perhaps this pursuit of creative potential that keeps Bernardo’s work and his fervent practice so enlivened. “Graphic design is constantly changing,” he remarks, “and it’s interesting to adapt to the different or newer media without losing your ‘soul’.”
Design and the role of designer sits at the core of Bernardo’s interests, using his spare time to widen his arts and cultural horizons, infatuated with the notion of design as a method of problem-solving. “Since I was a kid I have enjoyed ‘fixing’ things,” Bernardo explains, “I love the feeling of not understanding something and taking the time to tackle the obstacles that come within,” he adds, something similarly done in his creative approach. “When you get a new briefing and you have to find how you will approach it, that’s the most exciting part of the process,” Bernardo suggests, “the world becomes so much more interesting, everything is exciting and a new source of inspiration, and daily life becomes so much richer.”
The methodological nature behind Bernardo’s work becomes somewhat his own signature style, driven by gaining an in-depth understanding of the topic at hand, and grounded by continuous learning. “I spend a lot of time refining my ideas and consequently my designs,” Bernardo explains. “My work is heavily based on typography and because of that, I always try to create refined contrast and tensions in between all the elements in the layouts.”
These sensibilities recently manifested in Bernardo’s shortlisted visual identity for the Porto Design Biennale, designed in collaboration with Lidia Ginga. The design of which was fundamentally the result of the process – struggling with poor interest, continual debate and the lockdown itself. “We both truly wanted to achieve something that we were proud of,” Bernardo recalls, “and at the end we did.”
Playing with the notion of creating space, the proposed design from Bernardo is indicative of his pragmatic practice; displaying stark but characterful expressions of form, harmonised with typographic minutiae and a masterful hierarchical command. “This visual identity was conceived as a flexible template where information could be added,” Bernardo explains. “Our goal was to create a visual communication with history,” continually developing as the identity aged, whilst keeping traces of its past.
“I think my main goal for the future is to stay focused on my practice and try to grow it on my own rhythm,” Bernardo remarks, explaining his recent frustration with the distraction of social media, despite its many benefits. “I just want to stay focused on what I like to do and keep on exploring and growing,” he adds, concluding, “hopefully, the future is full of interesting projects that will allow me to go as far as I want.”
Lidia Ginga and Bernardo Berga: Unmanned World – Visual Essay (Copyright © Lidia Ginga, Bernardo Berga, 2021)
About the Author
After graduating from Winchester School of Art, studying graphic arts, Harry worked as a graphic designer before joining It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020. He nows works as a freelance writer and designer, and is one half of Studio Ground Floor.