Featured Studios

Love + Money

October 2015

We get to chat to Drew & Charl of, Love + Money the Melbourne based brand and digital agency. They tell us their top 5 design crushes atm, the qualities they look for in grads and why design has more power than ever. A seriously great interview, you'd be crazy not to read it!

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

People start filtering in between 8 and 9. We seem to have an unwritten rule that if you’re going to be in past 9, you ask everyone else if they want a coffee. We end our day with a 15 minute stand-up WIP, where we share everything we did that day, and everything we’ll be doing tomorrow. Which means that when we walk in in the morning, we’ve already got shit to get on with.

Because we’re such a varied bunch (strategists, designers, producers, developers, creatives) we’re all usually doing something pretty different when left to our own devices, which is why we have regular catch ups and brainstorming sessions down at our whiteboard (we’ve painted a 6m wall with whiteboard paint, possibly the single best workspace investment made so far.) We’ll likely be meeting with clients at one time or another — they come see us, or we go see them. We go and get lunch together most days, and then we drink more coffee and tea, and maybe burbon on fridays, and so use the bathroom when we need to. You know, the usual.

Who are the members of your team and their roles?

Our team has a super diverse set of talents, as the nature of our work means that we need to be able to tackle any kind of problem. Specifically we have: Charl – Creative Director; Drew – Senior Designer; Christian – Lead Developer; Toby: Strategy Director; Peleina – Producer; Flic – Designer; Tina – Design Intern; Rainbird — Front End Developer; Dan — Back End Developer; Max – Digital Strategist and Vy – Content Writer.

On top of this we have a network of people, partners and agencies we draw upon to collaborate with like our sister agency Willow + Blake, Loretta Lizzio – an amazing illustrator and Mike Tosetto – a freak of an animator.

Who are your top five design crushes right now?

1. We Are Collins: A brand agency in NYC doing some really interesting work which crosses brand and digital, working with a lot of start-ups in the tech sector.
2. Gretel: Another agency in NYC who do a lot of TV idents. We love the way they bring brands to life on screen. Especially their work with IFC.
3. Wolff Olins: With most of us coming from a branding background, these guys have been pushing the envelope and continue to reimage what ‘branding’ means.
4. Inhouse: Someone a little closer to home, Inhouse are a studio in NZ who are just doing some beautiful work. These guys are nailing everything we like about graphic design. The project they did for Seafarers is next level.
5. Google Design: Last but certainly not least. Google Design and Google Material is changing the way people understand design and how they interact with screens. We’ll put it out there but ‘beautification’ of google will be one of the most significant projects of our time. And the fact that it was completed by an inhouse team signifies a massive seachange for our industry.

What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?

The ability to come up with and understand broad concepts and then apply their to multiple granular instances can not be overstated. Everyone says that they’re after someone who’s ‘strong conceptually’, but few take the time to explain that this probably actually means more understanding ideas, not necessarily having them. Creativity in isolation is relatively useless in our industry, so it’s important to be able to understand the relevance of an underlying concept, and tie whatever you’re thinking back into it pretty strongly.

Other than that, there’s nothing more attractive than a graduate that’s willing to work, and willing to learn. Who aren’t afraid of the less sexy and exciting grunt work, because they realise that 1) if they don’t do it, someone better qualified probably has to, and 2) there’s value in doing that tough work well, and only one way to learn how to get it done right.

Oh, and a bit of #vibe. You’ve gotta have #vibe.

Any passion projects you would like to share? 

We work with a lot of startups, and have started up a few businesses of our own. For instance, we part own Little Big Sugar Salt which gives us the opportunity to do all sorts of ridiculous stuff. We just finished a menu that’s an entire 8pp broadsheet newspaper. We’re also working on a non-virtual personal assistant service with a couple of extremely clever friends. We’re calling it Tracey. We’re also involved in a tea cartel, a startup alcohol venture, some boardshorts, and a gig guide that sings to you.

What role does digital design play in your studio in 2015, and how to you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age?

Almost everything we design is for digital, so it’s obviously pretty crucial for us. However, ‘digital design’ is a pretty interesting thing. In its 1.0 and 2.0 iterations, it was extremely functional, and pretty unremarkable. Responsive layouts, webfonts and bootstrap budgets meant that function ruled, and form didn’t really get a look in. Digital design allowed the world to look a lot cleaner, and a little prettier, but really didn’t allow for diversity or personality. When we started, we didn’t really have any experience in digital. And as a result, we didn’t have a lot of respect for web standards, or what was and wasn’t possible. We took our learnings from the traditional world — obsession with fonts, layouts, hierarchy and the expression of creative ideas — and applied them however the hell we liked. We were extremely lucky to have a developer who was and is, first and foremost, a problem solver. So whatever we dreamed up, he made work — for better or worse. As a result, we’ve learned digital design on the fly, making it up as we go along on a combination of logic, creativity, and an inherent and apparently insatiable desire to try something new. The one reason we feel comfortable in doing this is that we set ourselves up so we can test and optimise. In the digital age, it’s not good enough to try something out and then leave it at that. You need to be willing to go back and improve based on reaction and response. This method of optimisation actually perfectly mirrors the scientific method: conjecture (creativity) and criticism (feedback).

What has been your highlights since you started out?

Love + Money actually started purely as an excuse to work with great people. It’s been a pretty intense few years, but now we’re at the point where we’re working on the projects we want to work on, with the team we want to be working with. And we’re getting to do it our way, for which we’re extremely grateful.

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

We want to grow a little more, and find some bigger clients. But rather than having a gigantic office here in Melbourne, we’re looking to see how we can stretch a little further afield, and maybe set up teams around the world instead.

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

The digital age has made the collaboration of brand (strategy, creative, design and copy) and business inevitable. The first step is that all but the few niche houses will need to seriously look at the way they treat design: anything less than a digital-first approach is going to leave them left behind. It’s up to us as designers to define what the digital age looks and acts like; but if we refuse to use what we know about problem solving to adapt and change, we’ll be supplanted by templates and themes. The next step will be the integration of design thinking within business. As Google is proving, design is a key component of a world more and more heavily reliant on UX, and businesses need to be aware that users and customers around the world (and around the internet) are interacting with design on an hourly basis. From determining the direction of a business at the top level of brand, all the way down to optimising conversion rates, design, and everything that it encomapsses, has more power than ever.








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