Meanwhile In Stockholm: Death to the PDF – Getting Out of the Deck and Into the Doing.
Following on from the first part of our round table, which was mostly spent speaking with the guys at OP, our conversation turned to PJADAD. PJADAD are based in Stockholm and tend to deal with more graphical operations. But this is by no means what they are limited to! For those of you that know Petter - you’ll know that he doesn’t do things by halves.
Some people might see him as ‘simply’ an art director but his interests lie far beyond the traditional boundaries of that discipline. He is driven by ideas and this speaks for the PJADAD ethos as a whole. Ideas are what count and make the world turn. Being bold enough to propose fresh ideas takes conviction.
In the last year we have quietly added Gothenburg and Stockholm to our family of offices. With London to come in the very near future. These offices have a loose split of capabilities thanks to the already flourishing existing practices there. OP in Gothenburg are experts in space. PJADAD in Stockholm brings incredible art direction. Our London studio from which this is being written, brings editorial nous.
This addition of these capabilities is something we think is great. But even more exciting to us is the possibilities this opens for the unusual. What happens when there is cross pollination between these offices? When innovation experts look at graphic design or art directors turn their hand to physical structures. We honestly don’t know the answers to these questions but we are very excited to find out.
Part 2 of our round table lies below…
Key (in order of appearance):
DK: DK Woon
PK: Petter Kukacka of PJADAD
ME: Marcus Engman
RDJ: Robert During Janson of OP
IKEA Art Event 18
Graphic Design as Social Experiment
If there’s a man that knows about rules, it is the man sat at the bottom of my screen, Petter K, in Stockholm. How did you and Marcus get acquainted then? What is your background, Petter? It feels very weird to say that in such a formal way, but-
I think Marcus presents me much better than I do.
That’s not bad, though.
You could see how addicted he is to rules from his hairdo as a starter [laughs].
I was actually thinking about it earlier. It looks like he could be in Dragon Ball Z right now.
Rules. What was the question again? How did I– ? What did I– ?
For a start, how did you meet Marcus, but also maybe just a bit of background on who you are, what you do.
I’m so jealous of OP now because there’s four of them. I’ve come to the realisation that I’m actually a very traditional art director but in a way that is not about a specific media. I have never wanted to stick to a specific media type and this was something I decided pretty early on.
I was educated as a graphic designer in the UK 15 years ago. Early on in my education I realised that graphic design in itself is pretty boring. BUT if you put it into a context or an environment, it becomes a pretty heavy tool to direct people, and also to experiment to see how people behave, almost like an architect but as a designer instead.
«I have never wanted to stick to a specific media type and this was something I decided pretty early on.»
Sometimes PJADAD has fun
Cross Disciplinary Studio – Blind to Media. It’s The Idea That Counts
It’s interesting because obviously the OP guys think very visually too. There’s such a blurring of disciplines nowadays. In a way, I think of you guys at PJADAD as dealing with portals, because it’s a lot about paper or books or screens. And those in a way are portals— they transport you to somewhere else, but it’s not necessarily a physical place. Then, I think the OP guys are dealing with predominantly physical things. Do you think that’s a fair way of describing things?
It definitely could be, at least, especially when it comes to becoming a specialist in a specific area. I’d still like to see in or without SKEWED, I still like to see myself as an interdisciplinary creative in a way-
-what the ideas are is the only important thing, to be honest. We always split our processes into two pieces. One piece is idea. That’s the thing that keeps you awake in the evening, that’s the thing that make you take drugs or drink a lot. That’s the thing that makes it really hard to work as a creative. It’s the ideas.
Then we have the production. Production for me is always just time-consuming. It’s never a headache or it’s never a real issue. The creative part, you can have a minor heart attack every single day when you’re not solving the things that you need to solve, but the production itself is a walk in the park compared to the ideas because it’s only about physical stress, not psychological trauma or whatever you say, in English.
When it comes to your way of thinking that we should see ourselves as simply physical or digital, it’s a little bit too simplified, I think.
I totally agree. The cool thing is also when everything meets. For me, the most potent drug is when you mix all of this, and it works in ALL of the levels. I think that’s really when it becomes super strong.
I think architecture often just dies on paper because it never becomes realised– the process could be so much headache, that it never becomes real.
I would say that really strong ideas are totally blind to media. They could be carried through whatever. I think that’s something that– One of the parts which I really appreciate with all of you is, I think that we understand each other’s idea process and that we are a little bit different. That’s why we like to work together also.
Me and Petter have worked together for so long now. He’s my closest partner in crime, I would say. I think that, in some strange way, we understand that we don’t understand each other, and that makes it good.
Now that we’re slowly starting to understand each other, I must say, I am a little scared.
I’m a little bit afraid of that, actually. I love the surprise factor there in the relationship.
«We always split our processes into two pieces. One piece is idea. That's the thing that keeps you awake in the evening, that's the thing that make you take drugs or drink a lot.»
Useful Naïveté and The Power of Doing Things – More Useful Than PowerPoint
I think my mental age is going down again! I was gradually growing in maturity, but then a few years ago, maybe two, I think it was around when you quit IKEA Marcus, I slowly starting to get younger again.
It doesn’t have to do anything with you, Marcus, to be honest. It’s more about myself. I feel that the more knowledge and competence I get, and the more contempt for money I have, the better a creative I become.
It sounds a bit ridiculous, but it’s not, because maturing together with you [Marcus] has been a really important part of my life development. If I really try to behave — I can definitely behave mature, even if it’s a big problem for me sometimes — but I think if I really try, I can be mature.
To have a– how do you say it– I want to really explain this because it’s very important. It’s almost like I have become more nihilistic today than I was two years ago because I do understand what the power of creativity could be, basically.
Be prepared to talk about naïveté in different ways!
It’s not like I think just anything is good with this mindset. Definitely not.
I think everyone here in this room has more than enough intellect to analyse if an idea is good or bad. Maybe we need to try it out sometimes to understand if it’s good or bad. The whole thing is to work both commercially but also in an artistic manner. For me that means really trying out stuff because the whole world right now is just doing PowerPoint.
I want to be the ones taking the fast lane and stepping into another gear and actually producing something instead of doing the PowerPoint. Stuff that actually gets produced by competent people is much more interesting than having it in a PowerPoint that never will fly. I think that’s how I see a little bit.
Work for IKEA collection FREKVENS with Teenage Engineering
Naïvité and Gumption – Invest in Strange
Marcus, I see you nodding your head there.
I’m very much into that also, and I guess you all know that I like to try things out for real.
I think and that’s something that we share. We’re willing to chip in ourselves. Maybe there is no investor for this, but I paid for it myself. I’m going to show that it works. That’s part of the business model as well. If you earn some money invest it in strange stuff just to see if it works because you get learning. That’s something that I would like us all to be.
It’s super important to reinvest in the future. That is not just taking care of clients and what they need. It’s actually what we believe that the world needs.
Petter, doing crazy endeavours with things that hardly anyone sees. You take those learnings into whatever you do afterwards. I think that’s the same thing for us. Also, we’ve done things that put the shitload of money and stuff that really doesn’t resonate on paper but–
It makes sense in the end.
«I would say that really strong ideas are totally blind to media. They could be carried through whatever.»
A Life Lesson From a Mentor
I had a mentor for a pretty long time, who some of us know. He said a lot of bad things to me but he said two things that I have taken with me for many years now. The first thing is most people try to make a big career when they’re 29 or 32 or whatever and scream really loud. He said try to focus on doing stuff really, really slowly in life. Do a lot of stuff but do it because you want to be the best of you when you’re 65.
I have really taken that into consideration. There’s some people pretty close to me with an agency who did exactly the opposite. They screamed like they were superstars, like they had changed the whole world when they were 27. Now they are getting closer to 40 and feel that they don’t have anything else to give anymore. I feel the opposite. I feel that I have not done anything. I have everything in front of me. I think that’s a very good way of pushing energy and power to the creative process. I’m trying to be the best when I’m as old as Marcus, which is like 65.
I must say one more thing there because I totally agree on that. I could also declare death to the fucking PDF. I hate it. I think killing it would save us so many headaches. I just realised also during this COVID thing, sitting by the computer is not what I imagined myself doing at this age.