Luka Lenie is a new generation, post-pandemic designer navigating a world between online and offline

Deviating away from ‘traditional’ studio approaches, the designer also works under a two-person informal design “collaboration” named 94.98.

Date
12 May 2022

When beginning her project for Proffwwweek – a collaboration between Antwerp arts graduates providing tips and support to young creatives – Luka Lenie was met with a dilemma we’re sure many designers can relate to. Depending on Covid-19 restrictions, there was a chance the group's first event was going to take place in-person, or, it was going to take place online. And so, the designer devised a visual that could be applied to both possible outcomes. Creating an initially simple-seeming poster – a white background with black type and lines – Luka created a ‘colour by numbers’ interactive poster. If the event were to be online, Luka worked with Annelise Cerchedean who created an animation that coloured the poster in. And, if in person, the poster could be handed out to attendees and coloured in. It’s this approach that pretty much sums up Luka’s practice; a creative searching for innovative ways to tackle a design world suspended between online and offline.

This ability to prepare for such eventualities is likely rooted in Luka's graduating from the Academy of Antwerp at the height of the pandemic in 2020. “Events were at a standstill and potential clients didn’t have surplus budgets. As for starting as a freelancer… that was quite the challenge." But, with Luka’s path toward graphic design being one of perseverance, she wasn't going to let a fork in the road stop her. Despite loving drawing from an early age, in later education Luka focussed on maths and science, while always maintaining a love of the arts. By 18, when Luka’s friends were all veering toward “difficult” and “serious” subjects at university, Luke went against her teachers warnings that she wouldn’t find work and applied to the Academy. “They should see my schedule now,” Luka adds humorously.

Recently, Luka started a collaboration with fellow young designer Yanis Berrewaerts, under the name 94.98 (the duo’s years of birth). “We don’t intend to be a ‘classic’ studio in which we constantly work together,” Luka explains, “but rather one that joins forces if it results in an added value for certain projects that we get.” One such project was the duo’s work for Bobby, the jewellery brand of Robbe Nelissen, a young Antwerp-based designer. Whilst Robbe had a clear idea of what the brand would look like, he gave the pair a lot of freedom when creating the identity. With iridescent, purple-blue hues and a slim tasteful typography, the identity is elegant whilst having a young, current feel to it. And, making the most of the design and a pretty “posterless” Antwerp, the duo printed posters and distributed them around the city prior to the business’ startup.

With typography being one of the stand-out design elements of the Bobby project, it comes as no surprise that Luka is pretty invested in lettering. “For me, typography gives shape to language," Luka says, “the way you write determines to a large extent how the reader will receive a certain message." But, interestingly, Luka sees more importance in the placement of text than its physical design. “For me, letters don’t always have to have a very special, distinct shape; usually the impact is more in the way you place typography.” Neglecting such attention to detail to type, Luka sees the whole project as being compromised. “Without the typography being just right, I think the intended purpose and overall feel of a design is often greatly reduced or altogether lost.”

After a somewhat isolating start to her profession, Luka is understandably seeking a bit more workplace social interaction. With the designer currently working alone out of a small office, she has dreams of opening her own studio space, “where I could work together with Yanis, and maybe even other creatives”. And, in the future, Luka would love to start expanding her practice into the events sphere, hoping to organise exhibitions, lectures and workshops.

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94.98: Identity for Bobby (Copyright © 94.98, 2021)

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94.98: Identity for Bobby (Copyright © 94.98, 2021)

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94.98: New Studio in Town (Copyright © 94.98, 2021)

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Luka Lenie: Open house at Academie Schoten (Copyright © Luka Lenie, 2022)

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Luka Lenie: Open house at Academie Schoten (Copyright © Luka Lenie, 2022)

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94.98: To Be Antwerp Art Route 2020 (Copyright © 94.98, 2020)

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Luka Lenie: 2022 (Copyright © Luka Lenie, 2022)

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Luka Lenie: 2022 (Copyright © Luka Lenie, 2022)

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Luka Lenie: The Perfect School (Copyright © Luka Lenie, 2020)

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Luka Lenie: Lucky (Copyright © Luka Lenie, 2019)

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94.98: Identity for Bobby (Copyright © 94.98, 2021)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.

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