Not all designers prefer sleek and tidy graphics. At Rotterdam-based design studio Team Thursday, founders Loes van Esch and Simone Trum believe a rough-and-ready look creates an “open and direct” atmosphere, a form of design that’s “not closed off” and communicates in a wholly friendly, approachable way.
Esch and Trum have always felt passionate about championing community and a general sense of togetherness, especially in its work for the arts and culture sector. A year after the pair graduated from ArtEZ in Arnhem, they began to share freelance jobs, working in Trum’s living room once a week (on Thursdays, naturally). Yet instead of calling themselves Studio Thursday, the word Team more accurately reflected their energy and setup, as well as the spirit they wanted to inspire with their graphic design.
Seven years on, this open energy is often communicated by vibrant flashes of what look like pen marks or highlighters across posters and identities. Take a poster series for Moving Futures, an experimental design festival in The Netherlands. Evocative, deliberately hand-made, thick red marker lines punctuate the design and underscores specific information; these slashes emphasize the spontaneity and physical nature of the festival, and also feel like hand-penned notes from one friend to another.
These scrappy details also feature in the studio’s posters for an exhibition about plastic waste; similarly, a smudgy, hand-made font became the foundation for a logo for a yearly exhibition called Prospects & Concepts for the Van Nellefabriek during Art Rotterdam.
Team Thursday’s love of bringing people together and its vivid sense of whimsy made it the perfect candidate for designing the catalogue for London’s Central Saint Martins’ Masters of Arts show in 2015. The exhibition was named after a word invented by Kurt Vonnegut, “Granfalloon,” meaning a group of people that have nothing whatsoever in common apart from the fact that they’re in a group. “We put each student’s work on one sheet, put everything in alphabetical order, printed out the page, then threw them into the air,” laughs Esch. “It resulted in a catalogue with all the names randomly mixed and completely useless page numbers.”
Process matters a lot for Team Thursday. Esch calls it “action,” and she and Trum want their actions to be visible in their work so that it’s more approachable to the people consuming the imagery. Graphic design is Team Thursday’s game, and the goal is to draw people into the galleries and exhibitions it creates work for like the swarming crowds flowing towards a soccer match.