The new office space of Berlin-based graphic design studio HelloMe is on the third floor of an impressive modern glass building constructed out of thick, grey steel. On the inside, the walls are painted a carefully selected shade of white, and the overall layout is deliberately functional and spacious. As HelloMe’s portfolio is so monochrome and precise, this gleaming new set up—which looks like a modernist temple dedicated to the Jonathan Ive’s Apple aesthetic—is a perfect new home for the studio’s front man, Till Wiedeck, and his rapidly growing team.
By pure coincidence, I currently work at the spare desk that Wiedeck left empty when he moved out of his old Berlin co-working space and into his new studio. When I interviewed him for this it was the first time that we’d met, and I learned that he set up the co-working space years ago when he was first establishing himself as a graphic designer in the city.
It was there that he shaped the smart, iconic logo for Warp Records; where he designed the crisp identity for the Berlin Art Prize; and where he began working with big, demanding international clients like COS and Nike. He also spent time collaborating with his studio mates, producing a beautifully bound book showcasing the work by photographer Patrick Desbrosses as well as a graceful, plastic bound annual publication for photographer Jörg Brüggemann (above). Wiedeck also worked on his humorous, enticing, and edgy self-initiated “Critical Objects,” a series of items that explored the curious nature of everyday objects. This was the project that attracted the attention of COS and led to their subsequent elegant collaboration (below).
Now, Wiedeck’s physical move from Berlin’s charmingly scruffy Kreuzberg neighborhood to the tidier, gallery-filled Tiergarten has symbolic significance as HelloMe asserts itself as a self-contained studio. “Shared set ups are great for conversation and collaborating,” Wiedeck confirms. “But now we can be more focused and set up a space around us that reflects exactly who we are.” Most importantly, the move signifies that HelloMe is not the pseudonym for a solo graphic designer, but rather a team that will continue to develop and adapt. This has always been Wiedeck’s vision, and part of the reason that, from the beginning, he didn’t name the studio after himself.
“It’s tricky when a studio grows into something bigger than a single person, but still has their name attached to it—you then can never separate the design from the person.”
It’s an interesting point, one that Kate Moross touched on at last year’s Graphic Design Festival Scotland. She noted that although it bears her name Studio Moross, produces work that could only come about through teamwork. “I’ve always found it so much more inspirational working with teams and collaborators than working on my own,” Wiedeck agrees.
Now that HelloMe has expanded, a new Instagram account was necessary (naturally). “In the past, people would just follow me if they wanted to know what was happening with the studio,” Wiedeck says. “Now, it’s important that we get the studio into focus.” So let’s focus purely on the studio for a moment: one of the defining qualities for HelloMe is the care and craft behind the typefaces it selects for projects. “If we’re designing an identity, it’s about starting from the core elements and then working our way to curate the identity,” Wiedeck explains.
“It’s logical to start something with the smallest part within a chain, and for a graphic designer, that smallest piece is type.”
Case in point: for the identity it designed for Berlin Art Prize (above), an annual, non-institutional arts award, HelloMe started by creating a typeface, but inverted the A as a discreet gesture that reflects the way the awards set out to turn the traditional prize format on its head. By starting with the type, the core elements of the brand were immediately established, all before any other design work had been done. The studio often works in this way, concentrating on the basics of graphic design in order to communicate the fundamental idea behind an institution or a brand. Sometimes a client will approach them with a brand voice that’s become cluttered and confused over time. So HelloMe tries to “narrow it down into a visual language.” Wiedeck continually emphasizes the word “reduction;” distillation is the key to the studio’s approach.
When I leave, Wiedeck and the HelloMe team are debating over whether or not to remove the theatrical red curtains that frame the towering glass window panes of their new office. Wiedeck wants the environment to echo the studio’s ethos, and since a lack of fussiness is a big part of what defines the HelloMe process, the extravagant wine-colored curtains will definitely have to go.