A sense of joy radiates across the portfolio of Shanghai-based graphic design studio Dadoda. Formed of two members, Lim and Yuu, the studio’s work is as fun as it is distinctive, thanks to the pair’s penchant for typography and character design. As well as commissioned projects, the studio creates concept-driven “art products” and self-published zines, each as upbeat and as effortlessly stylish as the last. “We hope the works of Dadoda can bring a ‘ha-ha moment’ to everyone,” the duo tells It’s Nice That.
The practice as it stands today began back in 2016, when Lim quit her full-time job and got the idea to start her own studio. Over the next couple of years, she began to sell her creations and build a following until Yuu joined in 2019. The pair now works out of a rented space in Shanghai; the base from which they create their visual identities and illustrative designs.
In terms of the studio’s name, which in Chinese is written as 大多大, they explain that “Da” (“大”) means big and “Do” (“多”) means many. Both are adjectives that have “simple and straight meanings, even kind of tacky and old school” and that they “combined and arranged these two Chinese characters and wanted to have a contrast to the elegant” style that was popular among Chinese designers at the time. “Many people laughed when they heard the name for the first time,” they add – which is befitting of a studio whose ultimate goal is to give everyone a good chuckle.
Although having an incredibly consistent visual language, Dadoda works across myriad fields including art, music and fashion. No matter what the project, however, Lim and Yuu take inspiration from daily life, especially “moments when chatting topics with friends” and these often inform the themes or topics of their designs. This is particularly evident in their more traditional illustration practice, in which they depict disparate scenes – a dog having a shower, a person trudging through the snow or at a table full of grapes – and turn them into calendars or zines, full of bright colours and an underlying irony. This sense that there’s always a joke being cracked is very much on purpose, the pair explains. “There are some ridicules in our designs,” they explain. “Therefore, many people say that we are telling dry jokes in a serious way.”
A project which Lim and Yuu point to as the most representative of what Dadoda is all about is titled Dingball. As part of the project, the pair were asked to decorate a Pentax K-01’s hot shoe, a camera designed by Marc Newson and a model they describe as “full of fun”. Almost novelty, the hot shoe attachment features a red ball that mimics a gaming joystick or similar device, an amusing injection into a form most of us know all too well. Dadado states how this addition brought a certain energy to the camera and that many people said they were compelled to take more photos after purchasing the Dingball. “That, we think, is the value of Dingball,” they say.
They then move onto a project called Useless Flyswatter – their most complete series and favourite work to date. “One day, we saw a flyswatter in a grocery store, and we somehow had deja vu and a sense of curiosity about it. We thought it is fun to reconsider the shape of the flyswatter,” the studio explains. The result is a vibrant and somewhat frivolous project in which they reimagine the shape of flyswatters in a series of illustrations and actual products. It’s the perfect example of how Dadado’s wry sense of humour and propensity for silliness combine with their technical prowess to create charming and considered projects.
Finally, they mention a single poster created for a famous Chinese comedy theatre called Xiao Guo. The poster advertised an exhibition held shortly after the theatre left its previous site called The Show Must Go On and features a large smiling face, sitting in a car. They then created a giant “happiness balloon” together with the team at Xiao Guo and “asked comedians to move this ‘happiness’ from the former site to the new one”, a process which was live-streamed.
Excitingly, Lim and Yuu tell us that they hope to hold an exhibition in the near future. So you can expect a room (or several) full of happiness sometime soon.
Dadoda: Paging Center (Copyright © Dadoda, 2021)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.