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How Larssen & Amaral find balance in bold design

How Larssen & Amaral takes risks with bold design

It's easy to believe that everything is better designed in Norway. Exhibit A: Oslo airport. Exhibit B: the impeccable portfolio of Larssen & Amaral.

Based in quaint Haugesund, on Norway's southwest coast, the design agency is named for its co-founders, Cecilie Larssen Lønning and Eric Amaral Rohter. The agency's just over a year old, but they've already tackled diverse projects from delightful branding for the World Children Festival to a classy – and undulating! – identity for glass studio Formbar.

We first met Larssen & Amaral last year, when they printed L & A Journal to showcase recent work. This time they've used a digital tabloid to promote !Konferansen ("The Conference" in Norwegian), a new event celebrating womens' stories through lectures, debates and discussions.

Here, they tell us about taking risks on their "craziest" designs, balancing bold typography and finding inspiration in food and architecture.

How Larssen & Amaral takes risks with bold design

Why a newspaper for this project?

The communication concept for the visual identity and this year's theme, "Take control of the continent," are driven solely by big, bold typography and energetic and vibrant colour usage.

2017 has been an extremely political year on a global scale. This political theme was definitely reflected in the conference's messaging and communication, so we wanted to create a more "politically" engaging visual expression, using typography and colour to brand bold statements, statistics, and quotes that related to various conference topics, themes and speakers.

Newspaper was the perfect format for this, so we pitched it in when we presented the visual identity to the organisers. They loved the idea and format, and saw it as a great platform for marketing the event.

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How were the newspapers used?

The newspaper was actually used as a bit of a multipurpose marketing tool. It served as a way to promote the event in advance and was handed out at strategic events and venues around the area.

But it was also used as the physical program given out to attendees during the conference. Turns out it served as a great talking point before, during and even after the event. The content of the newspaper included the schedule and program, together with more in-depth biographies, essays and other relevant articles.

How Larssen & Amaral takes risks with bold design

Can you run us through your design process? (Did you start with sketches or dive right in? How did you land on that great cover design?)

For this particular process, we really had to tailor the design to the content provided by the conference organisers. We had to treat the majority of the typography almost as an illustrative element.

We did some quick sketches on the computer to get the overall look and feel, but ultimately started with rough pencil sketches to get the flow and pacing down, and then further developed each typographic illustration based on the final content. The expression was pretty loud, so it was definitely a constant check to make sure we weren't pushing the creative too far. But that ultimately came down to pacing and always looking at the bigger picture.

The cover design was built on the idea of a competing and chaotic typographic world of words, with the conference theme and title pushing its way through—a strong and bold voice taking a stand to be heard. A bit more on how we arrived at the final cover below.

How Larssen & Amaral takes risks with bold design. Print your own newspaper with Newspaper Club.

What was the response to the newspaper? What did your client think?

We got a lot of feedback that the newspaper format, combined with a bold use of colour and typography, really worked well as an eye-catching brand surface. We were very lucky to have a client that really trusted us to take lead, and even source additional content to make the editorial communication even stronger.

We actually felt we took a bit of a risk with the cover design. We explored a variety of different cover directions, but in the end decided to present only one direction—which happened to be the boldest (and craziest). We felt it had a strong visual expression, something anyone would want to pick up from a table.

The client loved it, which was a great reaction and really reminded us to trust our gut as designers. When we presented the final design and layout, it really came down to small text edits.

How Larssen & Amaral takes risks with bold design

What's your favourite part of designing for print and what's the most challenging?

In such a digital world, it's always fun and refreshing to receive something physical and tangible. The format of the newspaper is also just such a nice change of pace from the smaller formats of the regular printed materials we usually encounter.

But at the same time, since we're all so used to digital information, and designing for an infinitely editable surface, there's of course always a lot of pressure to get the content, design and layout just right. Once it's gone to print, there's no turning back!

What 3 tools do you consider indispensable to your work?

Paper (and a pencil), Adobe Illustrator and lots of coffee.

Where have you been finding inspiration lately?

We pull quite a bit of inspiration lately from other creative disciplines. Colour, form and texture from interior design, architecture and photography. Travel is always a great source of inspiration, and as much as we love eating at exciting new restaurants everywhere we visit, we're even more amazed at how often we can pull inspiration from the food, interior and branding when we come home.

How Larssen & Amaral takes risks with bold design

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects that you're excited about?

We've got a lot of exciting client projects in the pipeline, but I think we're really looking forward to starting work on some of our own self-initiated projects and products. A few different digital solutions, some real-estate related projects, and even some good ol' physical products and printed materials.

And last but not least: Where's your favourite place to read a newspaper?

Nothing's better than sitting on the sofa with a newspaper and a cup of coffee on a quiet morning.


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