Featured Awards Winner

Carlos Bocai

March 2019

A big congrats to Carlos Bocai (@carlosbocai), one of our 30 TDK Awards winners' for 2019. A Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro graduate from New York, their work was chosen by Jupio Ishiyama from Studio A - Interbrand in Lima: "Very versatile and full of ideas! He looks like the kind of person whose brain can't stop thinking about design. The use of colors in his projects really stand out (we can see some Brazilian influence here), and he manages to mix them in a very balanced way. It's very refreshing to see and understand his vision in every project. He has a point and proves it through design." We asked Carlos to answer a few questions for next years TDK Awards hopefuls.

What do you wish you’d known now when you started your design course?

I wish I knew how important it is to be patient and that it's ok to do horrible work. Even the best designers of our time were bad at some point, and school is the best place to do bad work and get feedback. It’s just a matter of working hard, understanding your own time and the time of things. I also wish I understood that seeing new art, watching movies and experiencing things not necessarily about design is so important to develop a rich repertory.

What originally lead you in to design, and how has that changed - what do you want to do/are doing now?

My parents have always said that every time they asked me that classic question “what do you wanna do when you grow up?” I would always answer “I want to work on the computer”. Since Middle School, I’ve always gravitated towards visual mediums and had a huge aesthetic curiosity. In group assignments, I was always that kid responsible for creating the PowerPoint presentation (I would spend hours at dafont.com looking for the right font for that subject - and of course they were all very cheesy) and in my free time I was exploring softwares. However, I’ve always been concerned with the fact that unlike most other kids that were interested in design, I wasn't good at drawing. At that time I believed every designer should be an exceptional drawer.

At the beginning of my degree at PUC, I began to deconstruct the idea that Design was strictly visual, which was both a confusing yet enriching process. Ultimately I came to understand that in reality the saying “I can’t draw” doesn't exist. Drawing could be just another tool within design to communicate and make an idea understandable. There I learned the human-centered design methodology, understanding the potential to generate a positive impact in the world, regardless of the nature of the project. I think I apply this philosophy to my practice today. I like to listen to people, immerse myself in the context, and even in a branding project, I focus my efforts on creating a brand that has the most positive impact possible in society. Today I am sure that I have chosen the right path.

Any hot tips for getting ahead at uni?

Keep challenging yourself. Don't go for the easiest classes or the least strict professors. Grab every opportunity to improve and learn something new — there is no irrelevant knowledge in design. Everything could be a reference, so remain curious, "train your eyes" and try to improve your visual critical analysis. Enjoy the fact that at school you have time exclusively dedicated to learning, I miss having that. But also have breaks and live your life, work is not everything and if you have the right balance, this will be evident in the quality of your work.


Seeing new art, watching movies and experiencing things not necessarily about design is so important to develop a rich repertory.


What do you love about the design scene in your city and what companies are on your dream list to work or collaborate with?

I've been living NYC for around 8 months now and the design scene here is incredibly rich. I’ve lived in Rio, Brazil most of my life, and while I have come to call New York home, Rio is my hometown. There I had the opportunity to meet many talented and open people creating truly genuine work uninfluenced by the trends of the day, which was very enriching.

I've been lucky enough to have already collaborated with some of my dream studios: TUUT, Atolón de Mororoa, Sagmeister & Walsh and Gretel, where I currently work. There are also many studios that I really admire such as Pentagram, Dumbar, Hey Studio, Collins, Base, PS2, Work&Co, Hort, RoAndCo...

Where do you see your career in 5 years?

I recently started a personal, remote design practice, “ANYWHERE”, with my friend Julia Aguiar. She currently lives in Rio yet we still make time to collaborate. We've been working together since University, and when we realized we really clicked we began to work with freelance clients. So in the future, I see myself working on exciting projects at ANYWHERE, and maybe also having a job somewhere I admire and have fun. In addition, I’ve met so many amazing people that have helped me throughout my process, and this has given me such a big desire to one day guide new generations of designers. It would be awesome if I end up doing this as a teacher here in NYC or at PUC-Rio where I studied.

2019 for you in a sentence

I still don’t get what’s happening here.

Website: cadubocai.works

Instagram: @carlosbocai, @anywhere.today


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