“I think humor is the basis of our work,” say Pascal Huot and Isaac Vallentin, cofounders of LOG Creative Bureau. “We spend most of our time together trying to make one another laugh, and when we’re working on ideas it’s the same. No matter what tone the idea needs to be communicated in, if it doesn’t contain a grain of humor, it’s probably not as honest as it should be.”
That sensibility certainly imbues their work, but more so their approach to making work and talking about it: the hidden gem in their new site design has to be a hilarious bio shot of the pair. A sumptuously romantic riposte to the usual faux-casual, carefully lit profile images of most agencies, we see the two lads sat barefoot in lush greenery, sipping coffee and surrounding a bouquet of red roses like a pair of Romantic-era dandies.
Perhaps they have to make the most of those sweet and tender moments when they can: Huot is based in Ottawa and Vallentin in Montréal, though the closeness (just two hours apart, they tell me) of the two cities means they still work in the same physical space much of the time.
LOGCB’s portfolio is a delightfully varied one; combining considered monochrome posters for the likes of Nike, with slick editorial layouts, and cheeky proposals for a collaboration between United Colors of Benetton and Disney, dreamt up while at Fabrica. “We created this fried-egg Donald Duck,” they explain, “which did not impress the executive teams of either organization.”
It’s an interesting combination of commercial and cultural clients, most of which the designers will work with again and again. The pair takes pride in these sort of organic relationships, fostered through mutual interests in art and music. That seemingly natural, almost effortless way of winning work reflects the genesis of the agency itself: neither Huot nor Vallentin are trained as designers; rather, they came to form the design practice as “a byproduct of the original plan: to form an art-rock band.” Offstage, that meant creating concert posters, album covers, music videos, and band merchandise for their group Pony Girl—things they soon realized they were rather good at. And so brothers doing it for themselves began doing it for other people, too, and within months of meeting through the band, Huot and Vallentin began producing visual work together as LOG Creative Bureau.
“As soon as we met each other we were very excited about working with each other; we had a really nice energy and understanding, and our interests lay in the same places,” says Vallentin. “We both loved film and the idea of music being so reliant on visual representation. We wanted to put out a record, and that required so much visual work. We were getting better at those sort of things, and a lot of our work stemmed from other people in the music community noticing that there was a particular style we had.”
Huot adds: “All of our work is linked to the idea of communication and creating a message and some sort of connection. Maybe the fact were didn’t formally train in design does help us to view things differently, and not get caught up in the same sort of details that other designers might.”
In 2016, Vallentin studied at the revered Fabrica school in Italy, working on, among other projects, “Recognition” for Tate Britain, a digital tool that takes images from news reels and uses an algorithm to match them with historical artwork. “Previously we’d been designers in a world of musicians, then at Fabrica I was a musician in a world of designers,” he laughs.
Where their work is interesting is in its deliciously DIY approach—DIY in the sense that they accept a project, then learn how to do it—which results in such accomplished, slick design work. It’s an indicator of a generation growing up on less conventional knowledge shares: YouTube tutorials, rather than classroom handouts. That MO also facilitates a thoroughly multidisciplinary practice. “We’re not really tied to one particular medium,” says Huot.
Vallentin adds that this fosters a “playful” way of working: “I guess if we don’t know where something’s going we just tack down the idea and try and see which way to get there. Maybe if it needs to be in 3D or something, we have to then go and learn those things. But that’s fun: it feels like play, like when we were kids messing about making videos and things. We don’t really think in terms of an outcome. We just go with an idea and peruse the avenue we think will work best, rather than the formalities. We’re lucky to seem like amateurs in that way; it’s helped us learn pretty quickly.”
Alongside more commercial projects like designing websites for clients, LOGCB’s focus remains the cultural side of design; and their flair for innovative sleeve design is obvious. Take the surreally hilarious designs for Pony Girl’s Foreign Life, for instance: the sleeve shows a group of men apparently covered in tinfoil and holding a severed head—warding off nuclear disaster, perhaps—with the rest of the sleeve coated in wrinkly silver overlaid with a garish red sans serif. According to LOGCB, it “was inspired by 1980s Japanese field photography. It took two years to finish the suits (very part-time). The golden head is a plaster mold of Pascal’s face.”
The pair hopes that the next music-based project they work on will allow the studio to expand into stage set and lighting design; and Vallentin also hopes to try his hand at writing a book, too, having long enjoyed designing them. “Otherwise, I think we’re slowly wrapping our heads around the idea of creating a feature film,” he says. Is there nothing they can’t do? From the looks of it, probably not, the jammy things.