Swimming against the tide

by Susanne Schaller on Feb. 2017, from Novum World Of Graphic Design 


A Novum é provavelmente a revista mais importante do mundo sobre design gráfico. Editada desde 1924, reúne o que é de melhor e mais inovador no campo. Em uma dessas voltas que a vida dá, recebi no final de 2016 o convite para uma entrevista sobre o estúdio, para uma edição que seria publicada no início de 2017. Quando a revista finalmente saiu, vimos que era uma edição especial sobre o design brasileiro com apenas mais outros quatro estúdios (entre eles a Casa Rex), capa assinada pelo Gustavo Grecco e textos do Chico Homem de Mello. ¶ A entrevista saiu com alguns erros (o cartão origami mencionado no final foi feito para um cliente e não para nós mesmos), mas convenhamos que já está bom demais assim. 


»Imagine a sponge which for most of its life has soaked up culture, not just the overrated forms of culture, but also the mass media, the everyday and things from the underground. It is then thrown in a mixer and out comes a wobbly juice. If you drink it, you will become an abstruse comic hero who has the ability to see the world from a completely different perspective and who does things that are really important.«

That is Rodrigo Brod’s very vivid description of the »manifesto« of his lively studio in Lajeado. He continues: »Of course we are not heroes, but we like to work in this disruptive way, very open for methods and examples, to create concepts for people, not for firms and brands that are abstract. People are real and we stick to reality.«

Rodrigo Brod and Germano Redecker had worked together for over ten years in an advertising agency before starting their own design business in 2013, together with another partner. The name they chose was »Frente« (= front). »We felt at the time that the moment had come to do design with substance and relevance,« explains Rodrigo. Today they dedicate themselves to visual identity projects, carrying them out with a passion for detail, examples being for the building firm Acto, the Muram architectural studio and Salva Craft Beer, for whom they also designed the packaging. They also display a fine sensitivity for typography: their font Frente H1, which they designed for a photographic exhibition and made available free on the internet, has already had 280k downloads on Font Squirrel and has been used for many titles and in the credits for the Showtime (Warner) TV series »Roadies«.


Today, the third man in the studio is packaging expert Vagner Zarpellon, and the alchemy of this trio from Rio Grande do Sul seems to be perfect: »Germano is a big fan of Wes Anderson, I love David Lynch, Vagner is not a cinema freak, but he spent a long time as a hotel manager and has a completely different understanding of what people need.« For hours, says Rodrigo, they can talk about these influences and the impact they have on their work. A guiding light for all of them, however, is the Brazilian graphic designer Alexandre Wollner, who is inspired by Modernism and the Ulm School. They also like Rico Lins, Chico Homem de Melo and Gustavo Piqueira of Casa Rex. »Design should be a means for making life better for people and not for inciting their desire to buy unnecessary things.« A statement that goes against the mainstream addiction to sales figures. Its important to add value to things – that’s what they seek to impress upon their clients, because »if we do something that makes sense, we can then encourage other people to do the same.« Through design which invites the observer to pause and reflect, and which also inspires, even on a small scale – like their origami business card.