Getting a grip on coloursArmin Scharf
|For our new special collection Colorette - The Festival of Colours, the interdisciplinary design firm 22quadrat created an
entirely new type of sample book and exhibition stand – both of which are brilliantly colourful and full of life. The firm’s
proprietors, Patrick Voigt and Denis Vidinski, had already come up with the idea to collaborate creatively in 2005, while
they were still completing their studies. In 2008, they founded the firm.
You’ve intensively dealt with colour as a theme for Armstrong. Personally speaking, what associations do you make with the
Plenty! Most of all, colour means strength and emotion for me, as it is visually very straightforward and therefore immensely
How would you describe the work you do?
Our first intern once said to us, “Guys, you’re a graphic design studio. Yet, you’re constantly talking about music, books
and movies. What’s any of that got to do with graphic design?” That more or less sums up our methodology!
In other words, your inspiration comes from day-to-day life.
Exactly. When beginning a new project, we first spend a lot of time discussing things like moods, impressions, anecdotes and
allegories. We analyse everyday situations and ask ourselves where we come across colour in them. This is how we arrive at
a design approach. Often, we’ve already got ideas in our heads that are quite independent of that particular project. In that
case, we may frame a pre-existing idea within the new context.
How would you describe your approach to designing the concertina brochure for the Colorette special collection?
We wanted to consider the concept of colour in the most primary sense possible. We therefore reduced the number of illustrations
that run through the whole brochure to three. If we had only worked with photographic images on a flat surface, it wouldn’t
have sparked any suspense. Instead, like Armstrong, we work with space. A concertina brochure ought to, in other words, find
its own spatiality.
How long was it before the concept took shape, and what were the challenges?
We came up with the basic idea very quickly, but we then spent a great deal of time working on the actual design. Colours
accompany all of us in our lives. We’ve all experienced being emotionally affected by colour. So, accessing this theme was
quite easy. What’s difficult are projects that don’t offer any access on a personal level. The crux of the challenge was much
more about ensuring that the respective strengths of the selected images harmonised rather than competed with each other.
How did things go with designing the exhibition stand?
Working on the stand was particularly exciting because you can actually experience colour there – almost sculpturally so.
We poured five of the nine colours on top of one another in several layers, in order to produce vertical landscapes of colour.
Prior to this, we experimented a long time with sample panels, until we figured out the right viscosity and the right pouring
How would you sum up the basic ideas of the two designs? What impression is each meant to leave on the viewer?
Our aim is to emphasise the archaic sense of colour, and to stimulate a desire for colours, particularly among architects,
planners and designers. Incidentally, these people are often ruled by a certain competitiveness. In our view, very concretely
specific design approaches don’t encourage the viewer’s creative process. In fact, they have quite the opposite effect: The
story is told from beginning to end, leaving no room for the viewer’s imagination. Our abstract design is intended to pry
open conventional perception and rekindle the desire to try something new.
How many layers did you need for the right result?
I think the art is knowing when to stop! Better to leave something out than to keep adding. That’s also how we approach our
work. We don’t cram every conceivable thing onto the table. We clear it off first, and then set it only with the quintessentially
What exciting projects are you currently working on?
At the moment, we’re designing the brand and product communications of a lighting manufacturer. There, it’s naturally about
the perception of light. We’ve found that the actual quality of light lies much more in the shadows produced.
Last question: What fascinates you about your work?
DThat we never repeat ourselves. And that we mustn’t ever borrow or i ate, in order to stay with the zeitgeist. Instead, we
build our own autobahn to get to where we’re going.
We wish you a pleasant remaining journey, and thank you for sharing your impressions about your creative work.