Eva and Marta Yarza’s portfolio spans branding, typography, filmmaking and illustration. The identical twins have created a sound reactive alphabet, a visual identity for a Spanish council, surreal opening credits for a Viceland documentary on weed and a campaign to save an old bread factory in their home town (the building has since been declared a site of cultural interest).
The twins grew up in Vigo – a city on the Galician coast – and went to university in Madrid. They moved to London after living in New York (where Eva interned with Sagmeister & Walsh) and set up their own studio in London’s Southbank area last year.
Their latest project is a collaboration with HP to promote HP Smartstream D4D: a version of its variable printing software created for designers. The software is a ‘lite’ version of the commercial software used by printers and allows designers to create and preview multiple variations of a design. (You can find out more and request a Beta version here.)
The Yarza twins were commissioned by Silas Amos and HP to trial the software and produce a set of designs using Smirnoff’s brand assets (parent company Diageo granted permission to use the vodka brand’s logo). The pair designed 21 characters with 21 hats and bodies that can be randomly combined to create a seemingly limitless number of packaging designs.
Designs were applied to t-shirts, bottles, wallpaper, chairs and posters for a launch event in London. HP has also released a series of films documenting the project (view them here).
We caught up with Eva and Marta to talk about the collaboration and their design practice…
CR: How did your collaboration with HP come about? And what was the inspiration for your designs?
E&M: Silas Amos came to us with the concept “every one the same, every one different”. We created 21 different faces, bodies, hats and patterns from Smirnoff’s logo because their vodka is named “21” [the brand’s full name is Smirnoff No. 21]. The HP Smartstream D4D mixed it all together to create these exciting characters.
What interested you about the project?
E&M: We loved the variety [of it]. The machine is the one that brought the concept to life – it is amazing that every bottle out of millions will be unique and special like a piece of art.”
Tell us a little about your backgrounds. How did you get into design, art direction and animation?
We’ve always wanted to do art … pencils were already an extension of our hands by age three. We grew up constantly collaborating and discovering new ideas together – it is like we both fuelled each other with [ideas] – and we have always loved challenges. When we were nine we planned to draw the longest drawing in the world. We made one that is around three or four meters long, which we still keep at home.
Marta studied Construction Engineering in Madrid but never stopped painting and doing creative activities. Eva studied Fine Arts in Madrid with the idea of doing art restoration but she got so bored in the first class that she [decided to join] a design class with the aim of learning Photoshop…. This class changed our lives. When we finished our degrees, we both moved to London to study a Master’s degree in design at Central Saint Martins.
And when did you set up your own studio?
We set up our own consultancy a year ago but we have been collaborating together on projects for a long time. Before setting it up, we worked at different agencies in London and New York. It was a great experience as working at a variety of teams teaches you a lot about teamwork, timings, process and managing people. We also met pretty amazing creatives at our jobs.
What kind of work did you set out to make when you set up your consultancy?
We wanted to create design, but having a background in art, we wanted to bring that spice to the mix and make projects [with] a different approach.
We struggled a lot financially and with the language when we first arrived in London. It wasn’t any easy to find an internship but having this struggle, a background in fine art and architecture and the willingness to fight and learn whatever [we needed] to be able to create something – even if it seemed hard – made us learn quite a variety of skills: typography, 3D, coding, animation.
This helped us learn how to develop a variety of projects with limited resources. Our philosophy is that nothing is impossible. We do not want to be stuck in a style or language as each project requires a different approach.
How does your creative partnership work – do you have different specialisms / expertise or do you both work on everything?
Since it is only the two of us for the moment, we both try to work on everything otherwise loads of work would fall on the other. Still, we tend to designate a ‘leader’ on a project who will deal more with communication with clients or managing schedules. We both normally work on concepts while Marta is more keen to do moving image and Eva, more traditional design.
And your work is pretty diverse. Are there any recurring themes or a particular style that runs through it?
I think it was Tibor Kalman who once said that doing something once is fun, twice is OK, three times is boring. We think he was right. We do not try to have a style (although it is kind of impossible to escape from yourself) … but we try to keep every project different and exciting in its own way.
On your website you mention making “exciting” designs that move people. What makes a project exciting, in your opinion?
Exciting work, in our opinion, doesn’t follow trends, but it needs to be visible. It needs to have something displaced – you need to add something in your projects that shouldn’t be there in order to people look at it and say ‘wait, what is that doing there?’
[For example] there was this advertisement for Trivago a few weeks ago on the London Underground. Just an ad with a picture of a woman smiling on a white background. What made this ad [interesting] is how they bought thousands of advertisement slots for the poster … making it rather creepy to cross the underground halls with this ‘cloned’ lady smiling at you a thousand times, like she was stalking you … it’s the environment, not just the design [that makes a project exciting].
What are you working on at the moment?
We cannot really speak about our projects but we are doing some branding for really exciting businesses and some title credits for a TV channel.