Advocating a seasonal return to growth and reinvention through design
Claudia Eustergerling believes that design can make a genuine contribution to society. But, to remain relevant and effective, designers should engage with the world continually, watching and looking for ways to help their clients reach new and ever-changing audiences. The Seasonal communiqué is intended to provoke companies, brands and other creatives to consider how and when design can be used to good effect.
It’s official, spring is here. March 20th brought this long COVID winter to an end. Time to feel the sunshine again, make plans and to grow. There may still be darkness in the world, but seeds must be sown when the moment is right. For Claudia Eustergerling, the Luxembourg-based designer and creative consultant, this seasonal approach provides a useful way to consider the possibilities which well-considered design can offer brands and companies at different stages of development. And right now, the season is one of rejuvenation. “Okay, winter was long and hard” she says. “But now it’s springtime and I favour movement!”
But does design respond to the seasons? Is the world ready to wake up and begin the process of growth and reinvention again? What actions should be taken? Will things ever be ‘normal’ again? In this Q&A, Claudia answers these questions, and more. Design, she suggests, has an important role to play in society, helping companies and brands adapt to change and improve the clarity of their messages. Design helps to shape how we feel about life. It’s not magic, but it can be magical. Just like spring.
Claudia, spring is here, how does design respond to the seasons?
I love to compare and translate ideas between contexts. Winter is a period when people tend to cocoon. They try to stay in their comfort zone, warm and cozy. That’s fine, but it’s not without its risks. You don’t want to wake up late, tired and out of shape.
You could also see winter as a time when nature recovers. This is important for brands, too. Downscale the investment of energy, take time to breath, sleep, listen to your inner voice. Then, hopefully, you awake with a clear vision, ready to make the most of the opportunities which spring provides. With strategic use, design can help with this. Spring is a time of renewal and growth. Nature brings colors and evokes new energy.
So, should brands and companies just ‘spring’ into action?
Well, it’s important to ask what outcome you are looking for first. I always reflect on this with clients. What’s your objective? What would be a nice outcome, what would answer your needs? This doesn’t always have to be financial, you could have a positive social outcome as your goal. It depends on your values. I try to align and combine both, not one without the other.
But, if the mindset is in place, it’s important to move on, develop the idea and take action. Too often this final component is missing. And that’s where design comes in, it links interest, idea and action. I equate design with creativity. This creative power is what allows design to say, ‘Okay, let’s do something and do it in a structured way.’ It doesn’t need to break the world or be super-powered, but it should move you forward.
Small changes can still have a powerful impact?
It’s like fitness. There’s no need for everybody to run a marathon. You should just start practicing. Step-by-step there will be a positive outcome. A scheduled plan is also important, as is finding the necessary help…
With design, you are making a brand better and clearer, shaping it one layer after the other. For example, I recently created a new trademark, a label for my studio that stands for change and transformation: strglng. It allows me to develop my consulting offer for companies. As visual communication designer I work with visual language, always asking how can we communicate without using too many words? Reflecting on reinvention and reduction in the large sense, I took my name, the name of my studio, and I reshaped it, I put something to the side. This makes it shorter, and stronger.
Even if you find this abbreviated label confusing at first, it should provoke some questions. What is this? I really enjoy exploring ideas with my clients, going deeper, looking for something meaningful.
It’s hard to make such rational choices when the world seems to be in such a mad rush
You shouldn’t feel the need to ‘do something’ just because everybody else is. Any change should make sense. Otherwise, what is the point? It’s about being honest with yourself, your business and keeping an eye on things. With a steady hand on the rudder, you can make small corrections to move you in the direction you want to go. By the same token, don’t be afraid to do something once you have an idea. You should enjoy it! It takes time and it’s work, but it’s fun! Reinvention does not need to be wholesale.
Does reinvention give us a way to target a more positive world, and move towards it?
“New” does not automatically mean “better,” does it? It depends on the orientation. It’s like with a plant. It grows to the light. You have to define your light, so you can grow and develop in this direction.
Like the ‘new normal’ which everyone is looking for, but can’t seem to find?
I have always questioned what “normal” means. As child I observed and listened but questioned my observations, people’s behaviours, rules and recommendations. Why should I follow special patterns? Why do common behaviour’s exist? How did they develop – and what are the risks and opportunities if you behave differently? One of the five slogans I use for my office is “Start wondering how things could be”. The others are, “Start trying out what nobody does”, “Start asking for more”, “Start questioning your point of view” and “Start looking at things differently”. They form our identity in place of a fixed logotype.
And yet you create excellent logotypes for your clients
I really enjoy the moment I realise I can express an idea, an intention with a simple sign and design system. Giving birth to signs which spring directly from the context, content, intention.
That seems to be the key for you, clearly seeing the context and the intention
Design is understanding. This entails asking questions and observing. Design is thinking and exploring.
ABOUT THE SEASONAL COMMUNIQUE
Claudia Eustergerling believes that design can make a genuine contribution to society. But, to remain relevant and effective, designers should engage with the world continually, watching and looking for ways to help their clients reach new and ever-changing audiences.
The Seasonal communique is intended to provoke companies, brands and other creatives to consider how and when design can be used to good effect. Claudia welcomes feedback at email@example.com