Jana + Koos

We chat with CEO, ECD, CD, Designer, Photographer, Writer, Illustrator, Therapist ( ) duo Jana + Koos about all the creative bits and bobs they do (there's a lot!) — plus we get into the value of design thinking, why life experience is greater than school, and their non-design podcast recommendations.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

We are lucky enough to come from creative families of designers, architects, textile designers and teachers - so our childhoods were peppered with creative memories; painting family art works, ceramics and art classes, playing with kopic markers, paper cutters, model building and paper samples in our parents respective offices…

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

We’ve never cracked this one, but in short - creative direction, brand development, and execution (design, photography, art direction, illustration and image making).

Design work by Jana + Koos The Design Kids interviews Jana + Koos work-2

What does a typical working day include for you right now?

Every day is different as our projects are varied and spread across cities. But always coffee and always near a laptop.

What are your three must-read design books, blogs or podcasts and why?

This is probably where we admit that we’ve never been 'design junkies'. Neither of us listen to a single design related podcast (maybe it’s time to start…). Some podcasts on our radar - ‘The Inquiry’ - BBC, ‘The Money Show’, ‘RISK’, ‘New Yorker - Writers Choice’, Esther Perel ‘Where should we begin’, “Global News Podcast”, “Revisionist History” by Malcolm Gladwell. Looking at this list now, our ‘must reads’ aren’t particularly design focused. We find a lot inspiration in odd and unrefined places. Youtube. 9gag, etc.

Design work by Jana + Koos The Design Kids interviews Jana + Koos work-4
Design work by Jana + Koos The Design Kids interviews Jana + Koos work-4

School is less important than interesting life experiences

What do you look for in a great portfolio?

Experimentation and play, taking risks, attention to detail and craft, personality, self awareness and hard work.

What do you look for in a great client?

This is so important! A great client TRUSTS you, to do what you’re good at, and they act professionally. Because this industry is seen as creative and fun, so often we find that clients seem to think that means it isn’t serious. Stick to meetings, answer emails. Finally, there are actually enough good clients out there that you don’t need to work with assholes.

Design work by Jana + Koos The Design Kids interviews Jana + Koos work-6

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

YES! We attribute a lot of our success to the side projects and passions we’ve always allowed for and been involved in. Developing a style, and interest and allowing for experimentation outside of client deliverables and briefs have been so crucial to forming our aesthetic and identity and scratching our creative itches. Jana+Koos has an art leg (watch out for the online store addition to our site launching soon) - we’ve been involved in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including mixed media, sculpture, photography, design, typography. Koos and Jana are both solo artists in their own right, (Koos has his first solo photography exhibition ‘Palindroom’ launching end Sept, Jana has a fashion label with a friend called ‘Beau Beau’ which is dropping 2 new lookbooks in the next couple of weeks.

What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?

School is less important than interesting life experiences. Your gut knows things. Listen to it.

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

We’d like to think that despite the changing platforms of where it lives, design thinking and strategic problem solving and visual communication will really start to get the respect it deserves for the value it brings. As the world becomes more cluttered, these skills will become more significant. We have never been the most technology savvy and it’s not really what drives us, but it’s helped us focus on responsible and relatable communications. As long as there’s something to be said, there will be something to design. But it is our jobs to stay openminded, adaptable, evolving and listen to what’s being said around us.

Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

We always have a lot going on, but in the next 12 months are particularly busy (although we have become more aware of how important downtime and travel are to our creative processes and general well being, so going to try to make that a more regular part of our schedules).

Project wise we’re working on a luxury eyewear store called ‘Now You See Me’. Exciting for us as it it’s involved everything from coming up with the name, developing the brand and interiors with our friend Tristan Plessis from Studio A, and continues on through the roll-out, curation and campaigns which will include a lot of concept photography (something we’ve only recently started including in our studio and are really loving as another form of image making). Also currently working on the brand development and collateral for two Design Hotels in Cape Town and Rwanda. A high-end dinner theatre and supper club in Sandton, JHB, which mostly excites us because we’re getting to design an elaborate illustrated wallpaper repeat pattern. There’s a couple of restaurants coming in. Then we’re working on volume 1 of a yearly a magazine called ‘Fuck, you’re beautiful!’ with the enigmatic talent agency ‘My friend Ned’ (who’s re-branding we just completed and are now moving on to the sister casting agency.)

We also have a long-term ongoing project helping out with the design for a permaculture farm in Normady - ‘The Gonne Girls’. France’s first and only all-female permaculture farm. There's a couple of housing, neighbourhood and development projects coming up that we love for the cultural and human behaviour aspect to the design process. We’ll also keep working with local musicians on their brands and visuals, always fun for us and a bit of a homage to where we started. Jana’s fashion brand ‘Beau Beau’ is coming out with some new ranges and will keep doing so. Koos has his first photography exhibition and will keep shooting and drawing interesting things on the side. We have also pinky swore to dedicate a week here and there to making art. It’s important for our sanity and growth. Plus we’re launching our online store so need to create some fresh work. We’d also really like to travel more, make some new friends in Europe, America, Asia and Australia and collaborate with other studios and talents.

2018 for you in a sentence.

A bitchslap, a learning and a baby-step.

Design work by Jana + Koos The Design Kids interviews Jana + Koos work-11
Design work by Jana + Koos The Design Kids interviews Jana + Koos work-11

Where to find Jana + Koos online.

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