Design studio Studio Airport on the importance of collaboration and designing a 400 page publication

Contrary to the experiences of many, the Dutch studio experienced a healthy amount of productivity over the pandemic, taking on myriad projects and clients which provided scores of new inspiration.

Date
25 October 2021

Sleek, sophisticated and stylish: these traits are all undeniably Studio Airport. The Utrecht-based design studio works at the intersection of graphic design and film. We first met the studio last year when we talked to founders Bram and Maurits on how they construct unique narratives through a filmic approach to design. A year and a half later and we find ourselves catching up with the studio on four new releases stretching across the design spectrum. A lot has happened in the world since we last spoke to Bram and Maurits, but the duo seems to be rather unphased, telling us, “the past two years during ‘Covid time’ resulted in a healthy amount of productivity and a strong focus on our work.”

With little distraction from their personal lives, they strapped into work, continuing to collaborate with their three full-time employees and maintaining “a strong vibe and mutual understanding of each others’ work.” The support of the team is key to the success of Studio Airport’s succinct outcomes. Since the beginning of 2020, the agency decided to concentrate fully on design only, choosing to outsource web development or coding in order to focus on the pure beauty of the designed layouts. “This decision gave us much more flexibility as we are now able to switch more easily between print, film and digital projects without needing to think too much about capacity.”

So when Studio Airport was tasked with completely rebuilding Emergence Magazine’s website, it set its sights on working out a new approach to complement the publication’s shift from quarterly issues to publishing content online weekly. Emergence – the publication connecting the threads between ecology, culture and spirituality – is a 400-page volume, most recently exploring the multiple crises and opportunities unfolding around plague, extinction and loneliness, as they continue to grip our connection to the living world. Featuring typefaces such as Grilli Type’s GT America, Lineto’s LL Bradford, Studio Airport’s PG Titling and Eleisha Pechey’s Windsor, the tome is beautifully designed to embed a range of content.

The release of Emergence’s second volume coincided with a digital overhaul that saw Studio Airport rebuild the publication online. In turn, reflecting the evolution of its visual identity and growth as a publication. The new website features tools such as a searchable library where its vast content can be easily browsed, allowing the viewer to seamlessly tap into its broad range of essays, interviews, films and galleries on offer. When Studio Airport worked on this during the height of the pandemic, the designers were lucky in the sense that “motivation was never the problem.” Bram tells us: “It seemed that at the start of the pandemic, people suddenly found the time to take a step back and work on that project or new website which they had on their mind for a while, resulting in more commissions for our studio than normal.”

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Studio Airport: HKU, Camera and light by Luuk de Kok and Mischa van Schaijk, Motion design by Lucas Hesse, Music and Sound design by Julian Tjon Sack Kie (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

The last couple of years have been fruitful for the studio, particularly when it comes to new collaborations. “These collaborations often take us out of our comfort zone and keep us sharp during the process,” Bram says, “our work becomes more comprehensive on all fronts due to it.” In this way, Studio Airport designed the identity and built an online platform for the hospitality movement Slow, by Claus Sendlinger. The platform also acts as a community for designers, farmers, writers, artists, artisans and architects “whose work engage with ‘slowness’.” In turn, the visualisations bear this in mind through the tranquil imagery peppered throughout the magazines, interactive media stories and short films.

Slow, as well as a different collaboration with Marshmallow Laser Feast (which saw the studio create the design for an outdoor exhibition and a series of immersive audiovisual art installations) both, involved the help of motion designer Lucas Hesse, cinematographer Luuk de Kok and sound designer Julian Tjon Sack Kie. The latter required Studio Airport to compliment the transportive nature of the exhibition as it invited viewers to cross thresholds into expansive journeys through the natural world. Elsewhere, in a different campaign for the University of the Arts Utrecht, Studio Airport further draws on its inter-disciplinary expertise to come up with a fully rounded new system and concept.

Tackling new projects one by one with relationships is at the core of its work; the key to Studio Airport’s success is how these relationships stir new inspiration, methods of working and of course, challenges, as the agency moves forward. “As we had quite some time running projects at the same time,” Bram adds, “it all comes down to balance; as with most things in life.” A balance between work and personal life and importantly, making sure there is “enough space to breathe in between.” Shifting between large scale and small-sized commissions, Studio Airport has achieved a rarity in finding a balance between the commercial and personal, a balance that is both refreshing and exhilarating to the designers. “Team-wise, we’re in the best place since the ten years we’ve existed as a studio,” the co-founder finally goes on to say, “and that is something we’re very grateful for and will nurture for the times to come.”

Studio Airport: Emergence Magazine Vol. 2, code by September Digital, motion design by Michiel Verweij (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)
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Studio Airport: Observations on Being Booklet, Project by Marshmallow Laser Feast (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

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Studio Airport: Republic Amsterdam Logo (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

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Studio Airport: Visionairs LP, Illustration by Firpo (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

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Studio Airport: Emergence Magazine Vol. 2 (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

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Studio Airport: Emergence Magazine Vol. 2 (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

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Studio Airport: Slow (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

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Studio Airport: Lofi sketches (Copyright © Studio Airport, 2021)

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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. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.

jo@itsnicethat.com

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