Underline Studio

We recently caught up with Co-Founders & Creative Directors of Underline Studio, Claire Dawson and Fidel Peña, and discuss the painful process that was naming the studio; their take on internships, and how they believe curiosity is a huge asset to have.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

Claire - When I was about 6 I thought I had come up with an entirely new art form. I carefully cut large swatches of peel off of oranges, then cut them into shapes and dried them in the fridge. When you opened the fridge all you would see were these orange peels drying everywhere. After they were dry I would poke holes in them so that you could hang the shapes. I thought this was amazing! It probably lasted about a day.

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

Coming up with a studio name was an extraordinarily painful process. The good news was once we settled on it we’ve never looked back. The name Underline is inspired by the idea that when you underline something in text it is one of the most elegant ways to add emphasis and draw attention to content. We believe that is what we do, elegantly draw attention to content.

Design work by Underline Studio The Design Kids interviews Underline Studio work-2

Who are your top five design crushes globally right now?

Studio Dumbar, Collins, Sascha Lobe, Atlas, Vrints-Kolsteren

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

We do take interns and with the right student, they can be a fantastic experience - for both them and for our studio. We find the success primarily comes down to the attitude of the student more than their ability as a designer. If they are proactive, keen and nice to be around they can be a big help and get quite involved in projects. The best ones take every opportunity seriously and as a chance to add value. What might seem like small, unimportant jobs are opportunities to show someone you care about doing tasks well. Doing careful competitive research for a project could lead to working directly on creative. This is a chance to impress people potentially hiring you or making recommendations to others. We’ve hired several interns straight out of school because we got to know them; thought they were great and brought them in as soon as we could. It’s an excellent way for us as a studio to get to know young, talented designers.

Design work by Underline Studio The Design Kids interviews Underline Studio work-4
Design work by Underline Studio The Design Kids interviews Underline Studio work-4

What might seem like small, unimportant jobs are opportunities to show someone you care about doing tasks well.

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

Obviously their design ability but then after that who they are as a person is equally important. We’re a small studio so we want people who are committed and passionate about what they do. We don’t have a layer of account reps, so designers need to be able to work directly with clients, listen to feedback and figure out how to solve problems. Curiousity is also a huge asset — are they interested in other meaningful things beside design?

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Fidel - We’re usually involved in several self-initiated and collaborative projects but one of the most meaningful ones recently was a poster exhibition named Stance: Design Against Fascism at Sur Gallery, here in Toronto. We were one of nine Toronto-based artists and designers—working with themes relevant to marginalized and under-represented communities in Canada— asked to reinterpret two of the posters in the 1973 Chilean poster art exhibition Por la Vida...Siempre! (For Life...Always!). The exhibition created a space for an audience to question how far we have truly advanced from the ideological dogmas of the past and how they continue to shape our current political, social and economic realities. Our solution was to reinterpret two of the original posters in a clean and direct manner to encourage an urgent response from the audience.

Design work by Underline Studio The Design Kids interviews Underline Studio work-6
Design work by Underline Studio The Design Kids interviews Underline Studio work-6

Where to find Underline Studio online.

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