WAAITT

We spoke to Dennis Müller, co-founder of Copenhagen design studio WAAITT, about how their collaborative approach has shaped their studio culture. Plus, we chat about the win-win situation for design interns and how the studio is adapting to an increasingly digital industry.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

Personally, I always had the end-goal of starting my own design studio. Initially, I thought that I’d start out working at another company for a couple of years to get some experience, before jumping into self employment. However, back in the summer of 2011 when graduation approached, the economy was struggling. One of the symptoms of the financial crisis was that design jobs weren’t exactly growing on trees. In order to avoid unemployment, the three of us agreed on taking the leap and starting WAAITT straight after graduating. We all had freelance clients already, so for us it was merely a matter of throwing them into one pot, and going from there.

Our approach was pretty much “fake it till you make it”, so one weekend we met up with the goal to create the public appearance of WAAITT. We printed every acceptable piece of design we had ever created and filled a whole room with it. In contrast to our design approach, the motto here was “more is more”. This resulted in a sort of portfolio installation, which we then photographed. Lastly, we made a logotype and a Facebook page and popped a bottle of champagne. We were live! A couple of months later we found a little office space, made a website and the rest is history.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

One of the founders had this idea for a magazine you could read while you WAIT for something. It was basically about showcasing the work of different creatives from various fields: artists, designers, writers, photographers, etc. The combination between a collaborative approach – a sense of community – and the concept of waiting ended up becoming WAAITT — We Are All In This Together.

The magazine idea never became a reality, so when we started the company, the name was on the table straight away. We quickly agreed that it matched our vision perfectly. It represents our approach to working with clients, while simultaneously describing our work culture. We always try to involve the client in our design process as much as possible (without being unreasonable). Internally, the name matches the flat company structure which we cultivate. We don’t care much about titles and hierarchies. For us it’s about being creative, collaborating and getting shit done, no matter if you are one of the founders or an intern.

Design work by WAAITT The Design Kids interviews WAAITT work-2

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

Our core services are rooted in visual communication: visual identities, editorial design, digital design. We are graphic designers at heart, but we also work with video, motion graphics and music/sound design. We try not to limit ourselves too much and are always open to expanding our horizon. The world is becoming increasingly more digital, which calls for dynamic solutions that work beyond ink on paper.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

Design has played a central role in Danish culture for ages. Historically, the superstars of Danish design have mainly been working in architecture and product design, but the appreciation of creativity and craft easily translates to other fields of design. As a result, most Danes grow up learning the value of design. This makes for a design industry with a proud tradition, which is thriving and constantly evolving. The professional level is high, and there is a demand for quality design, which definitely makes Denmark an interesting market to work in.

Design work by WAAITT The Design Kids interviews WAAITT work-4
Design work by WAAITT The Design Kids interviews WAAITT work-4

The world is becoming increasingly more digital, which calls for dynamic solutions that work beyond ink on paper.

What’s your take on internships? (do you take interns now?)

Interns are an integral part of our business. We are a small studio, and we value the energy and perspective that they bring to the table. When you work together in the same team for 8 years, you can get stuck in your ways. People have pointed out that we (the founders) act like a married couple sometimes, so you could say that our interns also fill the role of marriage counsellor once in a while (just kidding… but not really). We interned at smaller studios ourselves, so we know from experience how valuable internships are for your professional growth. It’s a win-win situation, really.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

Following the development in recent years, technology will obviously have an increasing influence on design. The demand for flexibility in terms of multimediality is growing. Nearly everything you design today has to work well on screen: books are also e-books and you can add extra layers with AR, flyers are sent via email, invitations have become Facebook events, and the list goes on. This digitalisation also calls for movement. When we create visual identities today, we rarely skip the logo animation. Sometimes we take it a step further and add an element of sound. This tendency towards digital will most likely continue, and expand to formats and media that we don’t even know yet.

Another development, which is also a result of technology, is the increasing number of graphic designers out there. The internet has made design tools, templates and tutorials highly accessible. This means that practically anyone with a computer and access to a design application can learn graphic design (to a certain level). At the same time, the decline of print media changes the demand. Graphic designers will never become obsolete, but a willingness to adapt and evolve is essential.

Design work by WAAITT The Design Kids interviews WAAITT work-6
Design work by WAAITT The Design Kids interviews WAAITT work-6

Where to find WAAITT online.

Website: waaitt.dk

Instagram: @waaittstudio

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