Interview — Firmalt
Interview — Firmalt
Firmalt is a multidisciplinary design studio from Monterrey, Mexico. They provide unique creative solutions that develop and position brands, creating strong visual concepts that communicate clear ideas, add value, and differentiate from the competition. Firmalt has been around for exactly one year, they started operations in October 2012.
How would you describe your design style and aesthetic?
In short, we like to think our style is clean and refreshing. The longer answer would be that we try to keep our style in constant evolution, which is a challenge. Since each project has its own aesthetic and inspiration, we get different results. Sometimes it is impeccably clean and refined, other times quirky and erratic. All in all, high quality is what we want our design to represent. Precise in the details, smart in the execution.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Everything. Although it might seem like a dumb answer, allow us an explanation. We draw our main inspiration from our clients. We like to hear all about their company; their work process, products, service, and anything else relevant. We take all that information, and find a story that weaves it all together. This story can take us anywhere. Be it vintage butcher shops, extinct legal tender, or simple point to point connections, we get inspired from all kinds of things. These stories give us a clear inspiration, and are what tie all the individual elements within the brand together. With this process we are able to create brands with substance that represent a clear message and/or idea. Also, we like the Swiss.
Monterrey is a very relevant city design-wise, there has been an important movement happening in the past decade and a rise in design studios and an overall quality. Firmalt is part of this new generation of design studios, how do you feel about the context that enabled this?
Monterrey is the third largest city in Mexico. A beautiful industrial city, it has the largest number of schools, institutes, and universities per capita in the country. The result is well educated and highly motivated individuals, which leads to a city of entrepreneurs. These new businesses compete in a market that is mature, and the margin for differentiation slim. This is where this new generation of design studios come in. By providing intelligent design services, these entrepreneurs can compete and position themselves in the mind of the consumer, and effectively compete against larger and more established organizations.
With so many new and young studios being founded, in what design areas does the city still needs to grow and what kind of studios would you like to see rising on the next generation?
Sustainable and community focused design is something we’d like to see more. Design solutions that improve us locally, as well as nationally. We have seen a couple of these kinds of studios that strive to bring people together by improving public spaces, or make use of only sustainable material, but they are still sparse as of yet.
What are the challenges you have experienced, being such a young studio in a city with such strong agencies?
We believe that being a young studio in a city with such strong agencies benefits us more than it challenges us. For example, we are a smaller yet more focused team allows us for more direct contact with our clients throughout the process. Thanks to this we have developed a process that keeps our clients involved and at ease throughout the project.
Print budgets are challenge as well. We’ve had projects where budget for collateral and packaging is limited. For this reason we have become experts in production, and have found ways to provide ultra high quality results for a fraction of what larger printing presses would charge. This leads to us being able to propose more ambitious and exciting ideas for our larger clients with bigger budgets.
What is your favorite Firmalt project and why?
So far, our favorite project is Albura. Everything ties in so well with that brand. They are a company that specializes in high quality solid wood doors, the kind that last forever. We drew inspiration from their primary material, which is of course, wood. The name was inspired by a specific part of the tree, the typeface by the roots, the emblem by the cross section of the trunk, the collateral by the verticality, and the print finishes by the texture and color. All of this resulted in a beautiful identity that resonated perfectly with their product.
What are your views on the difference between commercial and personal work?
Personal work is all about seeking out projects that you believe in and want to aid in their success. You are personally and emotionally invested. Commercial work is about the same thing, helping businesses thrive through design. The only difference is what drives you in these situations. Sometimes commercial projects become personal, this has happened to us in the past.
What kind of projects do you enjoy working the most? What kind of projects would you like to do more in the future?
Challenging projects that require clever solutions. We have been approached by clients with brilliant products never before seen, and we must find a way to make their product desirable and understood. Other times there are projects where competition is a plenty, and we must make it stand out in unconventional ways. We have projects where production budget is low, and we must find clever ways to produce it by any means necessary. These types of projects are always exciting. In terms of projects we’d like to see more of, international projects are always a fantastic experience. We love working with people that are passionate for their projects. Enthusiasm is contagious. These
are the projects where we get the most satisfaction.