Morrow

We're obsessed with Rotterdam studio, Morrow. Especially impressed with their recent website rebrand for the biggest media house in Kenya, Nation Media Group (helllooooo colour!). Creative Director, Marten de Jongh, chats to us about his team of talented weirdos and superhero designers and how bad jokes and horrible puns are constantly going around the studio! Read on... it's a goody.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

In terms of the creative subjects at school, during drawing lessons I often drew something different to what was asked. So, for example, if the assignment was to draw a tree, I would draw a house. It’s fair to say that I had quite a rebellious streak in me which showed up in lots of ways when I was younger. However, I would also think, “wait, a house would look way better wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t that be nicer to look at?”. It wasn’t that I was trying to be different or difficult, it was more that I was obsessed with anything visual, and improving those things where I could. I realise now that that must have been frustrating for the tutor but on the flip side, I would draw the house with surgical precision – as a child or an adult, I’ve always been extremely focused on detail and getting exactly what I want from a design. So, I’m kind of proud of that kid; I nearly always did what I wanted to do and I would do it with gusto; that’s not something that is necessarily celebrated within children but I see power in that attitude. And did my teacher appreciate my ‘different approach’? Nope. He even advised my parents not to send me to a graphic school <cue evil cackle>.

I think that precociousness evolved into a sense of certainty when making creative decisions.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

Well, originally we called ourselves a strategic design studio with the mission to create a positive impact. However, we realised that was just a sentence that had been chewed up and spat out by so many design studios; for us it became an empty term. Also, we think of strategy as hygiene, something that needs to be taken care of but you don’t need to tell everyone about. We are seekers of truth here, and what we were saying sounded repeated and disingenuous – so we got rid.

Now, the elevator pitch. At Morrow, we create. Our team is a bunch of super-talented weirdos and superhero designers who want to make a difference by either creating a solution or creating something completely new. We can breathe life into a client’s idea by crafting exactly what they need whether that’s an amazing new space, website, product, app, advert, brand, and so on. Or, we breathe life into our own ideas by making dream projects that we just have to get out into the universe. We pick and choose the projects we work on by asking ourselves if it is going to result in 100% WOW! work. If it is, then off it goes, rocketing out into the stratosphere.

So, we are the Creative Club. Simple and true.

Talk us through what a typical working day might include for you right now.

Well, I start my day on the train. An hour’s journey from home to work ensures that I can start my day with a nice, tidy inbox. As soon as I’m in the studio and have hung up my coat, I give the studio dog Bailey a pat on her head, grab a cup of coffee (first one of ten) and then open up the laptop.

After this, every day is different. Sometimes I dive straight into meetings, other times I’m reviewing work by the designers or I’m in the designing seat myself. The last one is quite important to me, well they all are of course, but if I’m not making something then I might go a little bit crazy.

What is a recurring ritual, is lots of laughter, terrible jokes and bad music. Some of us are singers here, and I like to use my operatic skills but… no one else seems to love it, it’s so strange. In the afternoon our office manager cooks a delicious meal for the team that we all enjoy together. Sometimes it can be a quick 25 minute lunch but most of the time we aim to have a good hour to reset for the afternoon. Insert lots of deep chats, bad puns and sometimes two or three rounds of dessert.

We pick and choose the projects we work on by asking ourselves if it is going to result in 100% WOW! work. If it is, then off it goes, rocketing out into the stratosphere.

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

Yes we are all for them! We like to train people, and yes, we have openings for trainees currently. We do, however, have a strict policy with regards to the basic qualities of a student. Passion and curiosity are the most important criteria. If you have those then I believe you can pick up everything else.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Plan your career and walk this path step by step. Do not immediately start working independently after school, instead look for a mentor who can teach you something, someone you can really learn from. Also, stay dependent on others; work with them, trust them, just depend on people – it creates value, and we so need that today. To feel valued and to give value to others. Collaborate.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

In our studio, we’re involved in many passion projects. Projects that are an example of this are, Beam and Revivre. We are too curious to sit still and just watch the world turning bit by bit. That’s why we try to help the world with it.

Client wise, there’s always something super cool cooking away in the studio. Just recently we launched Nation. The biggest media house in Kenya, Nation Media Group asked us to design and execute the rebranding of their new site. However, once we were there, we realised there was so much more magic that could come from that project. Fast forward a few months and we were orchestrating a full rebrand of the entire media house. Think new logos, 40ft billboards on Nairobi’s highways, meetings with business, sports, lifestyle and breaking news editors, a national ad campaign and the new design scheme being implemented throughout their headquarters. So far an amazing journey, involving incredible cross-culture experiences, unexpected opportunities and just knowing when the time is right to press ‘GO!’. We have loads more to say about that one!

2019 for you in a sentence.

You know when you’re on the top of a rollercoaster and you’re looking down, and you have that feeling in your belly right before you embark on a ride you just know is going to be awesome?

That was 2019, 2020 is the ride.

Where to find Morrow:

Website: morrow.cc

Instagram: @morrowcreativeclub

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