Adobe Systems Incorporated

Q&A with Adobe MAX Speaker Vasava

Vasava, founded by Bruno and Toni Selles in 1997, is the brainchild of an illustrator/graffiti artist (Bruno) and a graphic designer/advertising art director (Toni) who, tired of traditional studio methodologies, set out to create something different. Some fifteen years later, the team is comprised of eighteen designers each with a unique set of cross-media skills. (There are no administrative or account people.)

When Vasava said “yes” to our invitation to speak at Adobe MAX, we wanted people to get to know them better. Partner Enric Godes took time out of a crazy-busy schedule to talk to us about revelation and inspiration, personal projects, the man behind the Vasava ski mask (on the speaker page) and which Adobe product he couldn’t work without.

Adobe: You reinterpreted our Adobe MAX logo. What was the inspiration/concept behind your design?

Vasava: The idea behind the logo interpretation of Max 2013 was to dissect a vision of graphic coolness into a classic logo. We’ve put different layers of graphic languages into a single piece to represent the many things going on at MAX—as a symbol of all the things going on. The main challenge was to have multiple styles and voices together in the same place, in harmony and acting as a unique new style. The main character, the red bird, is the creative spark that changes everything; the inspiration wave that comes after a revelation. What’s behind the bird’s trail is awakening from a long sleep and the new challenges the phoenix is facing. We see it as a nice metaphor of the transformative power of the creative conference.

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Two years ago you made a limited-edition toy for street wear brand 55DSL? What was it like to make Plastic Señor Blanco? Was he modeled after someone you know?

Señor Blanco’s original shape was modeled by the very talented Julian Pastorino and Cecilia Suarez for Atom Plastic; it was part of a custom series celebrating 55DSL’s 15th anniversary using a 100% Italian vinyl toy. The brief was to represent the core values of the brand and their style into a toy to be distributed worldwide to selected stores and trendsetters in the fashion and street wear world. We customized him using the allover graphic we developed for the brand for this project. Also we designed an ambigram for his belly to show the ambiguity of the character.

You’ve mastered multiple media in a way that many studios have not; when you bring new creatives into Vasava are you careful to bring in people with varied skillsets?

It’s in Vasava’s DNA to try to have as much variety and eclectic influence as possible. For us, the important thing is not to stick to a certain style or approach but to evolve in a natural way. We try to follow a path that investigates a commitment to creativity and different ways of producing our craft. Skills are so important and everyone has a different set. What we manage to do with all this possible combinations is what can make a difference and what we enjoy the most: Embrace randomness, try the happy accident, and identify when something unexpected can be a good solution to a problem.

In one word describe the studio environment at Vasava.

Playground.

You do quite a lot of work for fashion (and fashion sports) brands. Is it because Barcelona is becoming more noted as a fashion capital or is it Vasava’s design aesthetic that attracts them?

Yes, we’re involved in a bunch of fashion and sport brands, and not sure how this has happened; it never has been a part of a planned strategy but things happened this way and we are vey pleased and proud to be taking part in  projects in these fields. Fashion capitals are well identified and Barcelona, although a very cool city, still has quite a way to go to be one of them. There’s a lot to do to really reclaim our role as trendsetters, but that’s less something related to creative potential than to institutional and political support.

Do you foresee opening an office in the US?

Yes, why not, it’s not a crazy idea. We have an agent in the US, Bernstein & Andriulli, and we’re producing projects for the states on a daily basis, so it’s not impossible to foresee it in the near future.

If you had to give up all but one Adobe software product, which one would you keep? Why?

That’s a tough question. We, as creative, are linked so much to the entire collection; they are the tools we use everyday and are our weapons of mass creation. Obviously all of them are important, but if had to face the choice: Illustrator or Photoshop.

It could be anyone from Vasava; it could be no one: Who’s the man behind the ski mask on the MAX speaker page?

Hahaha, that’s funny. We as Vasava, always like to be there as a collective, a team of creatives behind a name. The guy behind the mask is the super talented Albin Holmqvist. He spent three years with us but he wanted to go back to his beloved Stockholm. He’s still a great friend and a Vasavian at heart.

Personal projects are hugely important for creative expression, experimentation and learning new skills, but how does a small studio find the time to devote to them when you’re so busy with client work?

The answer is actually the contrary of the question: How would we be busy with client work if we wouldn’t do personal projects? When Toni and Bruno started Vasava thirteen years ago, we were nothing, nobody knew about us. It was through personal projects that we came to be known by people and got onto the map. And, to this day, it’s something we never skip; it’s very important for us to still be doing our things, to engage in our passions, to create for the commissions and be able to find entertainment in creativity outside of the commercial frame. We produce films, objects, projects, typography and projects only for the joy of doing it. Vasava is not just about the business, it’s our lifestyle.

How has working in Adobe’s Creative Cloud changed the workflow for your studio and with the freelancers with whom you work?

It’s helped us keep things tight. It’s easier to keep an eye on everything and be able to explore iterations and versions knowing that everyone on the team is connected and using the same tools. It provides a great control and helps everyone not to be worried about the technology focus on the project. I mean, before it was a nightmare to work in different places different OSs or versions and share documents. We’ve gotten rid of all those distractions and can focus on our craft and projects.

To go see Vasava speak on the “Designing for International Fashion and Sports Brands” at Adobe MAX this year, visit MAX.Adobe.com. Be sure to use promo code MXSM13 when you register and save $300.