OrtnerSchinko designs simple and unusual branding for “radical cuisine”, art and culture
Founded by Wolfgang Ortner and Kira Saskia Schinko, the studio prides itself on a minimalist and parred back approach to design and direction.
- Ayla Angelos
- 22 July 2021
In the space of five years since we last featured the studio, it’s fair to say that OrtnerSchinko has evolved in one form or another. Headed by Wolfgang Ortner and Kira Saskia Schinko, the studio’s output has become “less design-y” and more focused on simplicity – whether that’s through a parred back colour palette or limited use of typefaces. This can be seen throughout the entirety of its recent endeavours and rendezvous, whether that’s having Austrian red wine and a cheese platter with Paula Scher in her New York office, or being part of LAD Festival in Peru, Festival de disegno Pacifico in Colombia, Forward Festival in Austria, or generally meeting a plethora of “super nice people” and professionals working in the industry.
Either way, the two founders have worked hard to get where they are today, with thanks to their ability to collaborate. Kira, for one, comes from a background in business management and advice, while Wolfgang hails from graphic design and art direction. Meanwhile, a typical day in the studio will see them work in a team between four and six people, during which they onboard a wide range of projects for clients in the realms of art and culture. “I prefer to take things seriously but don’t bring it to an absurd level,” Wolfgang tells It’s Nice That. “I know that I can work a year on a book in just doing the perfect spacing, but in our studio, we want to be something else. A friend told me that I am probably an art director who found a good balance in between ‘perfectionism and being negligent oft things’.” As such, the studio’s ethos tends to gravitate around the idea of simplicity – and of course working with a set of limitations – which has amounted to a portfolio replete with finely executed art catalogues, books, websites, and identities for institutions and museums.
A recent example of the studio’s impeccable gravitas with design and direction can be seen in the cookbook 99 Problems but 1 solution. Conceived during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, OrtnerSchinko decided to embark on a self-initiated project that publishes “exquisite, crisis-proof” recipes by the Healthy Boy Band, made up of Lukas Mraz, Philip Rachinger and Felix Schellhorn. Presented as the first part of a book series, the publication is devoid of any blank spaces and instead serves up a typographically rich documentation of food. “The design of the book series defines itself through the central approach of using every single page, including the cover, as part of a collection,” adds Wolfgang. “Therefore the pagination acts simultaneously as a listing of the 99 plates. The lack of image breaks with the conventions of the usual cookbook market and reduces the content to a clear typographic layer.”
In a similar foodie manner, The Healthy Times Magazine is Healthy Boy Band’s magazine arm that looks at “food in all its shapes and forms”, says Wolfgang. Going past the typical collection of recipes and restaurant critiques, the magazine offers up art, travel, stories on cooks and recipes, as well as philosophy, literature and even death. “Every edition has a specific and extraordinary graphics concept of photography and drawings by artists who usually can’t be won over for editorials. The goal is to create a concept for a cooking magazine that is far from an elitist train of thought, luxurious design, or hyper-masculinity and female belittlement.” The studio’s commitment to simplicity and typographic outlets lends itself greatly to this project and on the wider spectrum of things; it gives the work an “openness” and alludes the idea of the work being “undesigned”. Wolfgang adds: “This opens makes the magazine approachable for the largest possible target group, while simultaneously resisting being easily defined, and it remains free from any forms of affectation.”
Elsewhere, the studio has worked on a museum identity for Lentos Art Museum, as well as the redesign of the branding and communication for Mraz Sohn, a two Michelin star awarded Vienna-based, family-run restaurant in Brigttenau. To match its creative and “radical cuisine”, OrtnerSchinko strove to create a less-than-typical branding, “as a statement on the movement and the change of perception of the industry”. This was achieved through integrating the graphic design in with the dining experience of guests, done so by branding several dishes on the 14-course menu.
Otherwise, there’s plans to continue working in the field of catalogues and magazines, and plenty more dining industry projects, museums and institutions – perhaps even the launch of its own publishing house in a few years’ time. Rest assured that whatever comes next, though, it’s sure to challenge the preexisting associations of design.
OrtnerSchinko: Restaurant Mraz and Sohn (Copyright © OrtnerSchinko, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.