Why should browser windows be rectangular? Studio 24/24 on its radical practice

Starting out in graphic design, the Lisbon-based studio talk us through its playful approach to web design.

17 April 2020

“We say we like to be radical,” says Studio 24/24 on its visual language. Founded by Antoine Enault and Ondine Vermenot, the Lisbon-based art direction and creative coding studio develops concepts for both print and digital in a number of fields, from fashion to culture and commerce too. The pair met ten years ago during a master’s degree in graphic design. Both from the south of France originally, Antoine and Ondine dotted around Europe until settling in the Portuguese capital three years ago, where they have remained ever since.

With an unusual but useful working pattern, the studio’s apt name was established on their all-day-long schedule. While Ondine prefers to work in the morning, Antoine likes to work at night, and rather usefully, this flexibility has allowed the studio to garner clients from all around the world. On the clock whenever they are needed, it’s this international pool that makes up the majority of Studio 24/24’s clients. Tied with the studio’s experimental and playful approach, Ondine and Antoine create a unique array of outputs in its practice; with website design, branding, programming and editorial design, all skills under its belt.

“In the beginning of our career,” says Ondine, “we had no reformatted view of how a website should look like and we approached them the same way we liked to approach designing books, with concepts, experimentations and fun.” Antoine adds, “It didn’t have to fit into a 12-column grid split, with very legible or logical placements.” With this fresh approach, when it comes to design for the web, Studio 24/24 has a different way of thinking. It’s a process exemplified in its recent work for Jasmine Deporta, an Italian photographer.

“She has a fetish for the number 11,” says Antoine, “so we worked on a design that represented 11, 1 and 1, the same numbers yet different.” In this vein, the design plays on the visual trickery of symmetry. Each side of the website is an inverted vision of the other, and there are two synchronised cursors that mirror each other at all times on the page, both triggering the same actions simultaneously.

In other work, Studio 24/24 tackled the design for Matière Noire, meaning dark matter. Matière Noire is an interior architecture studio, frequently working with scenography and light design, so Antoine and Ondine aimed to draw out these delicate qualities through their design. “We wanted to evoke light, dark matter and apparition in a subtle way,” says Antoine on the bold design emanating burnt orange hues and bold display type. “The website’s navigation functions mainly with mouse hover, with very long transitions that plays with colour and opacity.”

As for the future, in another distinct web design, Studio 24/24 is designing the website for a group show led by Tobias Faisst in Berlin later this year. Involving 40 other creatives, the web design will reflect the exhibition’s themes: speculative and visual futures around the gloves. But perhaps most interestingly, Ondine and Antoine have developed something that hopes to reframe the way clients and designers alike think about, and design websites.

“Stemming ‘between 4 and 6’, which questions the rectangular format of books, we want to do the same with websites,” says Ondine. “So we’re launching a manifesto website called Browser Window where we’re proposing that browser’s companies allow designers and developers to create new formats for browsers.” Addressing companies such as Google, Firefox and Safari, the pair believe that the rectangular shape of the browser should be a choice rather than an imposition, and hope to explore other ways of conceptually and creatively expressing their digital ideas. You can find out more about the project here.


Studio 24/24

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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