This year has been like no other. You’ve probably heard the word ‘unprecedented’ used once or twice. While the various lockdowns around the world caused by the coronavirus pandemic have created many challenges, one upside has been is an exceptional opportunity for reflection. We have been gifted a chance to truly examine the way people traditionally live and work, which values are due more focus, and ultimately how we want the future of our world to look. After over four months of disruption to the status quo, there is an increasing number of optimistic conversations around ‘when things go back to normal’. Yet in reality, not everyone wants actually wants to return to it – not fully, at least.
During the pandemic, London-based designer and artist Caterina Bianchini has had to make changes at Studio Nari, the branding consultancy and design studio she launched this year as an evolution from her eponymous studio. Over the last few years, Bianchini has worked with the likes of Apple Music, Somerset House, Levi’s, Crack Magazine, and Reebok on visual identities and typographic projects (“they’re more like artistic typefaces than foundry-esque typefaces: I call them my ‘artfaces’ because they’re always a bit playful and fun,” she explains). In recent months, the Studio Nari team has worked on lockdown-specific projects, including a typeface channelling togetherness for a Selfridges & Co campaign, and the book accompaniment to Charli XCX’s quarantine album How I’m Feeling Now.
One significant change was losing staff at the beginning of lockdown due to the uncertainty surrounding the business, particularly as her clients are mainly in hard hit areas of the economy such as music events, art and fashion. Since then, work has picked up again and Bianchini is busier than ever, yet she’s still had ample time to consider how her industry operates and what she’d be happy to see left in the past.
Here, Bianchini talks to us about how lockdown has brought a breath of fresh air to the way we work, why big agencies would benefit from being more human, and why she hopes the industry will preserve its resourcefulness moving forward.
A studio-less studio We haven’t been in the studio since I’d say the beginning of March. Luckily we are still a very small team so it’s very easy to manage our situation. We did have a studio in Bethnal Green that just last week we’ve decided to give up, and this year we are just working from home for the rest of the year. Next year we’re going to reassess the situation when we’ll probably try and get a space again.