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The Spanish design magazine Visual featured a nice article about us. Feeling grateful, we shared a view of our garden and its animals on their cover.
With open eyes
Passion without stridency, stringency without dogmatism. Martin Lorenz was born in Lower Saxony in Hanover. He studied design at Darmstadt (which along with nearby Munich, is considered the center of the Jugendstil, an artistic style that reflects French Art Nouveau, Catalan Modernism) and Holland. For several years, Martin lived in Frankfurt where he and partner Eike Konig had formed The Hort. Together their prolific production earned them a reputation as one of the best proponents of new German design. Now living in Barcelona, Martin and his partner, designer Lupi Asensio, show us their new studio and some of their recent work.
We first met Martin Lorenz at ForumLaus in 2005, where he and Eike Konig, had been invited to present the work of their office. Their portfolio was composed of interesting projects for the recording industry that contained references to the importance of systems in the making of a corporate identity. The Hort assumed that the role of the designer is marked by rigor and methodology. Parallel to their more strictly commercial work, Martin showed us an exciting personal project that he spoke of passionately: The One Weekend Book Series, in which Martin, along with another guest artist, traveled for forty-eight hours in a city and create a visual diary of their experience without the aid of computers.
Two years later, we find Martin working in the center of Barcelona, just a few streets from Las Ramblas, a part of a design collective that had generated a lot of recent attention in the city: It is a large space shared by small studios or individuals, with IKEA shelves serving as space dividers, a common kitchen and bathroom...
Martin Lorenz and Lupi Asensio present themselves as TwoPoints.Net. "Although Lupi and I are the principals," says Lorenz, "there are many people more or less involved in our project and it is important for us to show this idea of a network, therefore we do not call ourselves .com but .net." A small studio composed of four people, Twopoints.net operate as a larger office with their powerful network of collaborators. Their office is divide into three parts: "DesignBy.TwoPoints.Net" designs for various clients, "ProjectsBy.TwoPoints.Net" contains self-initiated projects such as "The One Weekend Book Series", and "WorkshopsBy.TwoPoints.Net", which will soon debut with a series of seminars. Both Martin and Lupi teach at different design schools in their new city and have even found time to collaborate with the Japanese tourist guide "A New City Guide". They also invited their friend, the Danish Designer Kasper Riisholt (Typisk), over for the weekend in order to teach him how to cook an authentic "Tortilla de patata", a process in a poster that can be purchased at the Ras bookstore, which sits within walking distance of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (MACBA).
In this neighborhood of narrow streets, TwoPoints.net watch the world through open eyes and minds, navigating with a custom global map that is reminiscent of a metro network. One day we find them in Zurich to speak with the magazine Soda; a few weeks later they are in Sapporo (Japan) for an exhibition opening. One look at their calendar, which has just begun and is precisely documented on their website, shows a near-frantic level of activity, which seems to and contrast with Martin’s shyness and patient speech.
When I asked Martin about the difference between design in Spain, Germany and Holland, he replies without hesitation: "Here design is closely linked to advertising where the ‘creative idea’ as the starting point. As designers we are forced to fight this more or less limited approach to design. Even in academia, there is a tendency to see the creation of corporate identities as the creation of a symbol and its application within various media. It is a very poor approximation, because the creation of a visual system and its implementation requires a broader view nowadays."
In an almost perfect Spanish, Martin suggests that the role of the designer go beyond the limits of graphic design. "Designers are working on very different media and languages: a poster, something audio-visual or an object...The construction of a company’s or institution’s visual identity is not the branding of each element to more or less follow a pattern. I have designed many album covers, but I am not a cover designer. Some record companies understand that it makes no sense to design the cover, video clip, or invitation as separate pieces. When all formats are considered as part of the same system, you can get a more powerful and effective communication design, using the same resources."
Systems for the visual identities of corporations and institutions are the focus of Martin’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Barcelona. In a soft manner, as soft as a German accent can be, Martin states his approach: His discourse lies far from outdated manuals for corporate identities and official mantras of "design as additional value", which dazzle politicians and other leading figures of peninsula. With a solid education and a strong professional background, Martin reflects on communication and design in the current context. He stresses the need to update the structure of design schools and the academic world in order to adapt to the new times.
Leaving the interview, I find a free newspaper that contains a two-page article about the ending domination of the logo. The reporter speaks of "Liquid Identities" in reference to those companies that build their visual identity not on the repetition of a brand, but through the juxtaposition of different images that make a whole. Liquid Identities ... The paradigm shift is a reality that is taken both the official and academic discourse on the wrong foot. The message of the new era for design and designers is clear: "Be water, my friend!"
Published in: Visual, Magazine de Diseño, Creatividad Gráfica y Comunicació. Número 126, Año XIX.
Written by Beatriz San Román
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