I actually graduated twice. First, I studied to become an interior architect in Brussels. At that time I already had a clear idea of where I was heading: the hospitality and retail industry. I noticed that the design agencies I looked up to were all ‘multidisciplinary’. To be able to stand out (and fit in) in that sort of environment, I headed to London for a second degree in Graphic Design.
After graduating I was super excited to start working, but real life kicked in soon enough: no experience, no job. I started doing internships, living off my parents and my savings account until I was lucky enough to be hired by B3 Designers as a junior graphic designer. They specialise in interior design and branding for amazing restaurant concepts, so I landed where I wanted to land, but on the graphic design side.
studio basil. creates visual identities, more than often in the hospitality and retail industry. We want to help our clients tell their story and love to create honest yet playful design doing so.
My surroundings, both the city and its people, have always played a huge part in my perception of things. As a student I lived in Barcelona, where I met loads of creatives from different industries. Connecting with them was eye-opening and definitely changed my way of looking at design and its process.
London couldn’t have been more different for me; less about connecting, more about chasing that dream. So intense and yet so amazing, but almost a matter of how long you can keep up. It’s the most inspiring city I’ve lived in. London is an amazing cultural hub with inspiring exhibitions, lectures and opportunities on every corner, but I definitely struggled in finding a good work-life balance.
Back in Brussels, my social network is bigger and I gained confidence being surrounded by other designers, which obviously affects my design work. Having people to talk to about the insecurities you face as a designer suddenly meant that I didn't feel like a failure; instead it helped me to grow as a person and a designer.
During my studies I did several internships. It’s a great way to learn from experienced designers and to figure out where you want to be and what you want to do. The best internships are the ones where your senior takes the time to guide you, but also gives you freedom to create and do your own thing.
Unfortunately too many companies take on interns as an excuse to not have to pay. Having had a bad experience myself, I can’t help but feel a bit bitter about internships.
After I already did a fair number of internships, I applied for a junior position at a small fashion brand. I got the job, but the day before I was supposed to start they said that they would hire me as an intern instead, because of my lack of experience. Having nothing else lined up, I negotiated to quite a bit below minimum wage, but I was even more disappointed when there was no other designer in the studio who I could actually learn from.
We’ve had intern requests before, but I held it off for a while. studio basil. is only now coming to a point where I feel like we could mentor an intern as we should. So, yes, we will take on interns from now on, one at a time, to be fully able to make it a worthwhile experience for the intern too.
I draw my inspiration from what goes on around me. Having a strong concept to start from is essential in my design process, and the story of our clients is probably where I turn to most. I like to use textures and colours and always look for abstract compositions, often inspired by architectural details.
My advice would be to follow your gut. Know your techniques. Get inspired, look around you. And always go back to what feels right for you.
Last year we worked on so many great projects so we can only hope that next year will be even better! Most projects have a pretty short turnaround, but that’s what I like: things need to move quickly. Not really knowing what projects will come up next is both frightening and exciting at the same time. Bring it on!