A Decade of Helsinki Design Week: Part 3/4 - Design Bureau

Helsinki Design Week


Portrait by Chris Force

A Decade of Helsinki Design Week: Part 3/4

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Teemu Suviala never has been a big fan of rules. A graphic designer who, as a teenager, got his start at an underground music magazine, he has been questioning the boundaries of design since he co-founded Kokoro & Moi with Antti Hinkula in 2001. The creative agency crafts fresh, unforgettable brands for its clients by combining powerful storytelling with imaginative design—and with a portfolio that includes everything from a miniature woodblock model of Helsinki to the 2011 advertising campaign for the Helsinki Design Week itself, no project is too big or too playful for the designers to tackle.

What is the graphic design community in Finland like?

Finnish designers are more or less driven and known by architecture, product design, furniture design, textile design, and glass. Graphic design is a small thing with a not-so-strong heritage. We’ve had the freedom to build a certain language and a recognizable Finnish way of doing things. Often it’s hard for us to say what makes graphic design Scandinavian or Nordic, but quite easy for those outside of the region. We’ve been able to build something up from scratch and set guidelines, which is good because I’m not a big fan of rules.

How much of a career do you believe is dumb luck?

All of it. I believe in randomness of things and sudden possibilities. I like being there to realize that if something is happening, you can jump in, and it can turn into something else. It’s important to open your mouth in the wrong places and meet people and talk. In some ways, success is dumb luck, but you have to open yourself up when you get the opportunity to talk.

Are you still involved in designing during your day-to-day?

As much as I can, but lately I’m just running from meeting to meeting. I would like to actually draw things more.

Do you know successful designers that still can design a lot?

I think they say that they do. But it’s about the balance between creating and business. A lot of the work that I do focuses on the concepts and what medium the work will be for.

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