Thursday, January 13, 2011

Studio Saloon

On the same day that I visited bonbon studio, I visited a design studio called “Saloon.” The name came from their original idea that a salon is a sort of meeting place for people, and over time it changed into a western saloon. Saloon specialized in interior design and graphic design; they would often redo store spaces and then also some graphic elements to compliment it. They were a small company of 2 owners, a intern, a “guest” publisher (rented desk space) and maybe another designer who wasn’t in the office when I visited. When I asked them about their design process, they told me that they assigned projects based on the strengths of each other but also on individual's workload (those with less to do will be assigned a project if the ideal candidate is busy.) They didn’t give me much insight into their thought process and overall approach to new design problems. Though I do think that they put a lot of weight into customer interaction as did bonbon, they shared with me how one projects client was really laid back and gave them free-reigns to do whatever, which they enjoyed. Another project, they shared how the client was very finicky and controlling, and let one version go to near completion before changing their mind about the font type (choosing a font similar to comic sans no less).

Something interesting about Saloon was their use of unique techniques, at least from what I’ve seen in studios so far. They had experimented in silk screening on paper (still need to find out if this is different that screen printing) for a baby announcement. They had die-cut price tags/business cards for a children clothes boutique. They also gave me cardboard coasters that they would take to bar’s as a means of advertisement, the ink was raised and shiny, giving them a textural quality that gave the impression of high quality.

They seemed well versed in a wide range of styles, though strongest in high-value sophisticated design. Which surprised me when they showed me their Christmas gift to their costumers, which was a book that the desk-renting-publisher helped them with. It was a book full of playful verses like “can a vegetarian have butterflies in their stomach?” and “can health insurance fix a broken heart?” and all the people in the office were in a photo in the book. Their photos would be of them with a paper bag on their head, or candy wrappers on their eye lids, all very playful images. It was interesting that they would give such a playful gift to their clients, after they had designed sophisticated and high end images for them.

When speaking with the intern, she shared with me that when she was touring studios, she had the most success when she emailed them what time she was coming/wanted to show up. Or if they didn’t respond to an email, she would call them and ask them directly over the phone. She passively confirmed what I know to be my biggest weakness in the design world, which is the aggression to ask/tell people what I want.

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