Featured Studio

Atto

April 2018

We chat with Sara Bianchi and Andrea Zambardi from Atto about internships, collaboration, and traditional vs. digital design. Andrea shares some juicy details about her drum playing history and how that led to a life in graphic design; plus we LOVE their take on internships - 'Our aim is to give to the interns a strong educational experience'. Read on for more!

When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?

Sara: When I was a child I used to have a drawing album, and my relatives used to make me drawing to keep me calm! As a teenager I attended an art high school where I learned several techniques: silkscreen, fresco, gold-plating… There I discovered the design and its social role.

At Politecnico di Milano I discovered graphics, and the rest arrived naturally.

Andrea: I discovered graphics by myself through the music. As a teenager I used to play drums in a small band and I started to design its communications (flyers, posters, t-shirts, website…). So I decided to study graphics in Milan (Politecnico di Milano) and in London (Camberwell College of Arts). In the meanwhile I fell in love with photography, reason why I attended a masterclass at CFP Bauer in Milan.

Whats your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

Internship is a brand new experience for us, we have an intern from a couple of months, but we are really happy!

Our aim is to give to the interns a strong educational experience, sharing all the steps with them: design the concept, make the artworks and verify with the client.

We see the internship as a time for skills’ increasing and, as tutors, we have to share our modus operandi and our knowledge, giving them attention and support.

We have to say that a relationship with a young designer helps to clarify assignments, and to have a different point of view on themes that are considered as consolidated.

Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on.

At this moment we are collaborating with an architectural firm (studio wok) on the renewing of one of the best ice cream shop in Milan (Prossima Fermata), whose we have been client from long time.

The balancing of architecture and graphics has been a really interesting theme, that brought both studio to share and mix different knowledge. The construction site started couple of weeks ago, and we are looking forward to see it finished!

An other important collaboration is the one with Stefano Tripodi, curator of the photographic fanzine Sudario.

The aim of the fanzine is to describe the south of Italy absorbing its most striking and axiomatic features revealing it's shadows, stains, folds and moods. In the path to obtain the goal Stefano lets us free to experiment and he is always open to dialogue and to new solutions. This approach has brought Sudario to be sold at "The Photographers Gallery" in London and to be presented at "SI FEST ‘14", "Offprint London ‘16" and "I never read Art Book Fair ‘16" (selected by Archipelago), "Planar".

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Try to get experience in the fields that are interesting to you, choose internships or collaborations that better fit your needs

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What has been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt along the way?

  1. Work hard and be nice to people. (cit.)

  2. There isn’t a life-changing work (at least for us it was like this), but it is a daily and constant practice that reveal your professional and personal ethics.

  3. Explain you choices widely, in order to give to the client a complete vision of your design process. Designing is formed by two elements: the aesthetic and the function (very important!), this must be really clear to the client.

  4. It is important to maintain a space where the research and the experimentation are free, in which you work for yourself and not for a client. Often the result is useful for the next commercial works.

  5. Everything enter in the design works, also if it is not really connect to it: the books you read, the movies you watch....

What advice would you give students starting out?

Be curious, research in the present but also in the past. Do not be afraid to get inspired by what you like, it will help you to understand how they are made, why they are so good and to develop your own style. Be self-critical, ask yourself the following question: if I haven't designed it, would I like it? Try to make experience in the fields that are interesting to you, choose internship or collaborations that better fits your needs. Talk and collaborate with your school mates, you will improve your skills together. Last but not least, don’t be lazy!

What role does digital design play in your studio in 2018, and how do you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age?

We are stil in love with traditional media, but we are curious about the present and our design activities include the digital world, in particular Ui/UX and motion graphics. We like to design in an holistic way, taking care of all the aspects of a work and hybriding the two worlds. There are skills which are a common ground between paper and digital, such as composition, choosing of the perfect typeface and the organization of the contents. Today we have a lot of new possibility to explore also for traditional project such as a festival identity: designing of small animations for social networks, creating interactive posters with augmented reality, designing an ad hoc app…

Another interesting aspect of the digital is the exchanging of ideas and knowledge with other professionals, who take care of the technical aspect of the works (such as developing).

Instagram: @helloatto

Website: atto.si

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