Location: A loft in what was traditionally called the Printer's District
in downtown Manhattan, New York City.
Duration: Open has existed in its present form since the first of January,
Staff: Our in-house staff is just five people, but we collaborate with
a network of freelancers and consultants, including other designers, writers,
producers, filmmakers, animators, type designers, illustrators, musicians,
sound designers and web developers.
Education: [Scott Stowell] I have a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design.
Others in the office went to Cooper Union and Parsons. Our two current
interns are both from the School of Visual Arts. These days I also teach
design at Yale.
Cultural Influences: Conceptual art, documentary photography, bad printing,
common sense, electronica, international travel, underground 'zines, Noam
Chomsky, stationery stores with outdated products, Charles and Ray Eames,
Japanese television, sign painters, improvisational comedy, old type-specimen
books, subway maps, radical environmentalism. four-color process, Lester
Beall, supermarkets, the English language, etc.
Environment: Our office is bright, airy, and rectangular. We share the
space with illustrator Chip Wass, and this arrangement has facililtated
some exciting collaborations over the years. True to the studio's name,
there are no private offices or walls in the space, which I think fosters
the kind of collaboration which comes from easy communication among everyone
in the studio. The atmosphere here is casual and friendly: there's always
music blasting, often snacks, and occasionally a PlayStation game breaks
out. But it's also very intense, as everyone here works very hard on a
lot of projects. Thankfully, Chip's French Bulldog Ruby, our de facto
studio mascot, is influential. It's very hard to be stressed out when
something is licking your leg.
Philosophy: We have a kind of motto for our approach, which is "mixing
form + content in two, three, and four dimensions." What that means
is that we think that the best way to develop design solutions is to develop
a deep understanding with the content at hand, so that the results have
an inextricable relationship with that content. Often we have a hand in
creating content, and these days we are starting to work on self-generated
projects like fonts, products, and publications, where we are the client
as well. The "two, three and four dimensions" part refers to
the range of media we work in: print (two), packaging and product design
(three) and interactive and time-based media (four). I have a problem
with the idea of specialization. I feel that it's much more interesting
to develop an approach which works in many different contexts, rather
than sticking to one type of project. People are smart. If you keep that
in mind, a lot of possibilities open up.
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