We met with two up-and-coming designers in Berlin and spoke about what drives them to continuously explore new methods of expression.

 

Studio Visit

Studio Yukiko

We met with two up-and-coming designers in Berlin and spoke about what drives them to continuously explore new methods of expression.

 
 

Berlin’s Studio Yukiko is located in between Potsdamer Straße and Schöneberger Wiese — near an old cargo train junction turned public park. A multidisciplinary creative studio consisting of Johannes and Michelle, they welcome us into their spacious workspace that they share with an architecture firm. The entire length of the 8 meter long wall is covered with magazines, books, sketchbooks and materials organised in a floor-to-ceiling shelving system.
"We're sort of the messy little brother compared to the architects we share the studio with – they're so orderly! But I guess we just like to have a lot of stuff around," says Johannes.

With a background in graphic design and contemporary video art, Johannes and Michelle were not exactly imagining themselves having a creative studio together one day: “Johannes was more into this art thing with video and sounds, and I was pursuing design in print media. We never actually talked about doing a studio together back then,” Michelle remembers. 

 

 

But most well-known is their work on Flaneur Magazine, an award-winning art publication with each issue focusing on the length of one street somewhere in the world – so far they have covered Berlin's Kantstraße, Leipzig's Georg-Schwarz-Straße, Montreal's Rue Bernard, Rome's Corso Vittorio Emanuelle II and recently Fokionos Negri in Athens. 
As it turns out, Flaneur was the first magazine they ever designed, so from the start it was a complete experiment: “We didn’t know how to make a magazine – so in a sense, we didn’t know how to fail” laughs Michelle, continuing “I think we managed to give the magazine a unique Yukiko touch by playing with the conventions of design.” For example, once they visualised neoclassical composition by Fabian Saul (a Flaneur editor), putting imagery on each line of staves and redesigning the notes to visually express the sound of each particular part of the work.

The studio began after they collaborated together on a music video for the British band Colour Of Fire, working together as directors and producers. They felt that they worked well together, sharing similar views on how things should look and feel. So they set up shop in Berlin and founded Studio Yukiko,  now in its 5th year, with many projects and collaborations, mostly within art, fashion and culture under their belt. 

The include a complete visual overhaul of the renowned Fondation Carla Bruni—Sarkozy in Paris that helps underprivileged people with education, experiencing art and cultural offers, to the exhibition and book design for Matt Lambert’s KEIM – a NSFW photographic journal of the artist's most intimate exploration of adolescent sexual behaviour, as well as record covers, logos, magazines, posters and more. 

 
“It all started with a logo – and then it evolved into an entire corporate identity. I guess we’re sort of control freaks”
— Johannes
“We believe that many problems with communication can be solved by good design”

To see – and hear – this,  you'll need to buy the magazine and one of the “Flaneur Unprintables”, an old school cassette tape. It's a conceptual approach that the Flaneur x Yukiko collaboration thrives on: to challenge the medium and force the receiver to have a more tangible and close relation with print and sound. 

Johannes and Michelle have an uncompromising approach to picking materials and techniques – each issue of Flaneur consists of carefully chosen paper stock, preferably in different sizes and shapes, to emphasize each article as different. Also, printing techniques and effects are chosen to emphasise specific areas of a article with high gloss varnish or double binding the pages to create a “secret backside” to some of the stories. This lavish approach to publishing means that Flaneur can be considered as both a small circulation art magazine, but also as a series of standalone books in their own right. Recently it was awarded the D&AD Award for Best Entire Magazine, ADC Germany Distinction and The Certificate of Typographic Excellence at Type Directors Club. 

“We try to take in a broad variety of creative work – currently we’re shifting between video production, visual identities and book design spiced up with a little editorial photography. We're even involved in some interior design as well!” says Johannes. When asked about why they try and work with a multidisciplinary method they say it is in order to not get stuck in one expression, and that they firmly believe firmly “the right solution rather than medium,” – that being a designer is not just about drawing, making layouts or pretty pictures – it’s about using a systematic approach to applying creativity as a solution to any given problem. 
By taking in this palette of different disciplines, Michelle and Johannes keep their minds sharp and have a constant stream of inspiration to solve problems. Michelle concludes “In the end we believe that many problems with communication can be solved by good design”.

 
 
CONTRIBUTORS
WORDS & PHOTOS: MIKKEL INUMINEQ & MARIE BRANDT
 
 
 
johannes.jpg
 
michelle.jpg
 
 

Johannes

Born Hamburg, Germany
Current City Berlin, Germany
Occupation  Creative Director

Michelle

Born Hamburg, Germany
Current City Berlin, Germany
Occupation Creative Director

 
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