What did you want to become when you were a kid?
Loes: I wanted to be a drawer. I also made books, so it was my dream job to draw and make books.
Simone: First I wanted to be an advocate, a lawyer. I thought I could help people who were treated unjustly. Later I wanted to work in advertising, but I didn’t know what it actually was. I guess it had something to do with graphic design.
What makes your studio different?
We have strong aesthetics. We work very formally and we make a lot. Compared to the other speakers, who often organise a lot, we are really makers. We like the action and working with the process. It’s about performance. But we do not perform, it’s the design that performs on the poster or in the book. We don’t call ourselves a studio, we call ourselves “Team Thursday”. We work together as a team quite intensely, not competitively. It’s more like playing ping pong – we never know who did what at the end and it doesn’t matter.
To which work would you say no?
We say “No” to a lot. Normally we do a lot of projects, but we have learned to recognize what kind of work suits us more. At the beginning there were people who would ask us because we are friends. We would work on that project, but we didn’t connect in the process – they didn’t really look at our work. At the time we thought, okay, this is a good goal to go for. We didn’t see what really fits us. Now we know that a little bit more.
We say no to architecture assignments or if we’re asked to participate in a pitch. We always find it questionable to work in a pitch form – that you don’t really get paid or maybe paid and that people don’t really choose you, there is no dialogue to start from. For example, we were asked to join an architectural biennale assignment in Rotterdam, with posters in the city and so on. You can imagine that would be a nice project for a small studio. At the beginning we were thinking “wow, this would be great!” But the further we thought it through, we realised it is not so good for the studio at that time, because we had other plans, such as an upcoming residency in South Korea and doings so many other things we really liked. If we had taken the assignment we would have been working full-time on it for half a year and would need to employ more people. Now, we’re very flexible and free to travel, including coming to Berlin. Besides, there are quite a few things we would say no to due to our moral principles. We would never work for Shell or something like that. We also don’t like to repeat ourselves. We think work should be different all the time.
What was the trigger for your collaboration?
We studied together, we graduated at the same time and we were friends. So you could say, it’s obvious to work together. But we never thought “oh, we should do this”. In the year after we graduated we went to a summer school in Italy. It was super great, and there were all these designers from all over the world. This was really great to meet all these people and work on our things. There our projects kind of merged together and we talked a lot about design and how we worked. Then we decided to try to work together, at least once a week at the kitchen table and see how it goes. We have done assignments, competitions and things. We have about our preferences and how we think about things. After this it really worked out.
Where are you heading?
We hope to work more autonomously in the future or in more varied commissioned assignments. For example, realising a really big carpet floor for a public building or a curtain for a museum like a special installation. I would also like to grow as a studio, but not in a sense of growing the studio and having to watch out over salaries and manage other designers. I hope for more international work in Korea and to teach more. Maybe we could design a typeface and specialise in animation and learn special techniques. We like designing foreign materials and surfaces you’ve never worked with. It’s about filling your own space, your own niche.
Simone Trum und Loes van Esch collaborate as “Team Thursday”, which is based in Rotterdam.