Review of the year 2016: graphic designers Süpergrüp


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Our sixth interview for our Review of the Year features is with Süpergrüp, Germany’s start-studded design collective – we speak to them about its first year as a group and what it hopes to do in 2017.

When a supergroup of any kind is announced, an instant buzz soon follows. Whether it be artistic, editorial or musical, the concept that a collective of creatives will be working together is a real treat. This was a feeling that echoed through the It’s Nice That studio when Johannes Erler, Mirko Borsche, Lars Harmsen, Sarah Illenberger, Eike König, Mario Lombardo and Erik Spiekermann founded Süpergrüp – platform for design with some of Germany’s most prominent designers.

Suüpergrüp’s beginning was announced at TYPO Berlin in May 2016 with its seven founding members. Its existence is one that is endearingly founded in friendship. Together the collaboration between its members allows each designer to work on the projects they’ve always wanted to, ideas they’ve been meaning to elaborate upon or assignments they would have never thought of doing while designing individually.

As a design platform built upon a bond between the designers themselves, the ethos of Süpergruüp is approachable and showcases how design should ultimately be communicative. The group do this by exhibiting the work of established and upcoming designers alongside each other, whether it be working together on a T-shirt design or sharing wisdom with young creatives in a poster workshop. Collectively they are designers, writers and business people beginning to openly discuss and act upon how design should be affective.

As their first year draws to a close, we speak to Süpergrüp’s nominated spokesperson Johannes on their origins, how they’ve grown, and what’s next for the team of democratic designers.

What was your creative highlight of 2016?

The birth of Süpergrüp!

What was your lowlight of 2016?

The massive return of stupidly destructive hate and egoism that we’ve witnessed around the world in 2016.

What are the signs of a good creative year?

To have created something that really lasts.

Which piece of work did you enjoy working on most last year?

Most definitely our first Süpergrüp product: The Love is the Answer shirt. It’s just a small piece of design, but makes an important statement at the right time. If you order, it comes with a little brochure and our iconic smÜley badge.

Which piece of work from last year do you feel has been most significant to your portfolio/career?

I really like our Offen und Bunt sign for the anti-Pegida movement in Dresden. It’s not my best piece of design and I certainly don’t see it as a portfolio highlight, but it was fun and has helped raise attention to this worrying subject. 

Speaking for my Süpergrüp colleagues, they have produced a long list of outstanding design projects. One, however springs immediately to mind: Mirko Borsche’s collaboration with the great German designer, Konstantin Grcic, where they created the superdiscomachine Epocsodielak. It’s one hell of a show!

How has your work evolved over the last 12 months? 

As a human being and a designer I felt and still feel a deep responsibility for our free and democratic society. Not every piece of my work can be political or a social statement. But as a designer I feel the obligation not only to work for money, but also to support important projects. As human beings we have to help.

What’s been the most important thing you’ve learnt in the last year?

Interfere! Design can be a powerful tool!

Who has been the most influential creative for you in the last year?

David Bowie

Describe 2016 in five words…

Hard trip in a storm.

What are your hopes for 2017?

Personally that we learn from all the mistakes and spooky developments that jeopardise our freedom. Every end is a new beginning.
And of course I look forward to a great Süpergrüp year in 2017. It is still early days and the start was a little bumpy, but now we’re getting up to speed. Our shop is almost ready, and in September 2017 we plan our first Süpercamp as a workshop weekender called Mother Nature and an exhibition concept is also in the pipeline. Stay tuned, it’s going to be fun!

Supported by Google

At Google, we believe that design is critical to product excellence. That’s why we’re proud to support INT in its effort to champion a broad and inclusive community of creative makers and thinkers with the annual Review of the Year.

We also believe in fostering design through Material Design, a unified system combining theory, resources, and tools to help designers and engineers craft digital experiences, and through Google Design, a cooperative effort whose mission is to support design and engineering excellence by producing original articles, videos, events, as well as creative and educational partnerships. Sign up for the Google Design Newsletter.  

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

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