Heading in a “more radical direction”, studio es hopes to challenge the status quo in Austria
The Vienna-based graphic design studio, founded by Verena Panholzer, creates bold, experimental and evocative works for a whole host of media.
- Ayla Angelos
- 20 August 2020
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Over the course of five years, studio es’ projects have undeniably increased in scale. “Ever since our last feature, the scope of the projects that we are involved in got bigger,” the studio’s founder and art director Verena Panholzer tells It’s Nice That. This includes identities, books and websites for international clients, yet what’s come out as most prominent is the slight shift in demand for more digitally-focused work. “So, naturally we adapted to the need for animations, websites and digital experiences.”
Back then, it was the Vienna-based studio’s structural approach that caught our attention – be it advertising, web design, typography and editorial. Still keeping in line with this wonderfully cross-disciplinary means of designing, studio es sees its experimental methodology as its strength. “Since we always come up with graphic systems that are based on the project’s concept, we always follow different directions inside the scope of graphic design,” continues Verena. “The main ingredients of typography, picture and shape stay the same, but the rhythm and combination of it all changes with every project – each client takes part in the study’s growth which we try to channel by experimenting with new methods and tools.”
Studio es’ success in this field can be pinpointed to Verena’s ability to adapt to change. Following her own personal path, she’s able to “do what feels right” as and when situations arise. She also grew up in a tailor’s school before being “dropped by a school for goldsmithing” – then she “visited a high school for art, snuffled into industrial design, brushed the field of interior design, earned money in advertising, had fun with graffiti and ended up in visual communication.” A broad and interchangeable past, yet it’s one that’s enabled her to build her brand – “a label, a service, a mindset, a partner” – and ultimately a practice that aims to shape the visual culture in Austria.
Gallerystudio es: Helmuts Art Club
Working alongside Paul Katterl and a forever growing network of coders, motion designers, photographers and writers, the studio’s ethos is now based on versatility. Although Verena’s background stems from multiple fields within the creative industry, she’s always felt most at home creating grids, columns and lines. So it was a natural progression; the studio doesn’t always adhere to this strict formulaic means of designing though, and instead offers up its services in animation, web and type design. She adds: “Clients often don’t know exactly what they want at first,” citing the Swiss Psychotropic Gold project as an example of such as it was supposed to consist of a small leaflet. Instead, the end result saw the completion of a 250-page book and an accompanying website with downloadable media content.
This project, in particular, is one that Verena prefers to call a “hybrid media publication”, rather than a “merely a book”. It seems more fitting this way, especially for its hefty content that’s stacked on 11.520 lines, 96 colour images and “everything saved on a 398 GB SD-card that contains the referenced video and audio files from the book,” she says. It also has a luxurious quality to it, with a large number of writers, journalists, artists and photographers contributing to its pages. “Because of the contents detailed nature, the page numbering was replaced by line numbering as a means of organisation. This unusual way of structuring compliments the data-based information in the book.”
Inspired heavily by the people and personalities they meet along the way, the team at studio es has a more hands-on and personal approach to each and every project. A further example can be seen in Le Studio – Film and Bühne, where the team created an “ever-changing” logo inspired by the landmarked Studio Molière lettering – the result of which sees the juxtaposition of a more handwritten typeface paired with one that’s more bold and formulaic. “Every edition of printed matter is distinct and unique, to keep the motion of the original lettering alive,” adds Verena. Elsewhere, there’s the identity for Helmuts Art Club, an art gallery in Vienna’s thriving 4th district. The studio created the exhibition’s visual language, whereby the title of each show determined the formula for the posters’ graphic system, “either creating sequence, repetition or stacks. Art generates art.”
Studio es’ ethos rests in the fact that its main goal is to challenge the status quo in Austria, achieved through “unusual approaches”, design experimentation and by producing concepts that are universally understood. “As you can see,” says Verena, “these two are opposing more than they are complementing each other,” concluding that “since the awareness of high-quality graphic design in Austria is still backward compared to other parts of Europe and globally, we are forced to sometimes go in a more radical direction.”
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and continued to work with us on a freelance basis. From November 2019 she joined the team again, working with us as a Staff Writer on Mondays and Tuesdays until August 2020.