I had the absolute pleasure to interview Piotr Płoch, a man who represents 1/4 of the young Polish design studio Olle. The straight-shooting creative talked to us about the harsh realities of building an up-and-coming agency, the studios’s anything-goes attitude and how they’ve got a new found respect for paper in all it’s possibilities. Within all the humour and laughter, you can see the effort, passion and love the four creatives put into work – creating contemporary and most importantly, top quality design.
Hi! how was your summer?
Hi. My summer was extremely busy. Just before the start of the summer we signed our most important contract so far, and that led us to intense work during the beautiful, hot and sunny summer we had this year in Poland. I had no time to rest so far, but I hope I soon will.
Can you describe what Olle. is about and who are the people behind it? How did you end up working together?
Well we’re a bunch of friends having a great time from living of design. We share the same design vision, interests and even a sense of humour. I think that’s what makes us a well-knit team. But at the beginning it was just me and my longtime girlfriend – Marta Wojcik. Just after having graduated the Fine Arts Academy in Krakow, Marta decided to start her own business and I was already a quite experienced freelancer during that time, so we joined our forces and started working together. Soon we met Tomasz Chrostek, a freelance web designer who at that time was looking for a place to work away from home. Initially we were using our office together just to share the rent expenses but soon we realised we understood each other so well when it comes to design, that we should start working together as a trio. Few months later we met Olek Sucheta, a Fine Arts Academy student who had to do an internship at a design studio in order to pass a semester at school. So he reached out to us. He was our very first intern at the studio and it turned out that he is not only a very talented guy, but also a great person who perfectly fits our team. And from then on, us four, with the help of a bunch of our affiliates have been working together. And I really hope we will keep it on for a long time.
Motyf + Ollestudio collaboration polnocna 5
Where does the name Olle. come from?
The story of our name is as simple as the name itself, haha. And that was our goal when struggling finding a proper one. We knew that we wanted to avoid Polish words as they are mostly extremely hard to spell for foreigners. We wanted to come up with something short, universal and easy to remember. Marta came up with Spanish Ole! and it was a great direction although we thought it is a little too emotive for our vision. So we put another “l” to it and dropped the initial emotional feel of the word. As a result and without a purpose we ended up with a name that is also a Swedish man’s name, haha. And oh… a little later we found out that in some Korean dialect “olle” means “road” or something like this. Excuse me if I’m wrong but I don’t speak Korean at all and can’t remember the exact meaning of the word.
How would you describe the style of Olle.?
A constant exploration I guess. I don’t really know if we have our own style at all. And I don’t really know if we want to have one. I mean… that’s the question I ask myself very often – is a style something that will help or hurt you? Freelance illustrators need to have their own style, freelance artists need to have their own style and so on. But a branding design studio that needs to be flexible in order to follow marketing plans of their clients in a retail world that changes so fast? I’m not so sure. Sure, your own style makes it easy to be recognisable but on the other hand it can limit you and make you washed-up pretty fast. But I think the truth, as usual, lays somewhere in between. You need to know your direction, develop it but you can’t be afraid of doing something different when there’s a need or opportunity to do so. For now we know that we want to design simple yet strong things because that’s the style we feel the most and we take any opportunities to do that because that’s the only way can develop in such direction. In the meanwhile we do plenty of jobs that go in a different directions as we’re not afraid of taking them and we need to pay our bills of course, haha.
Leżę i pachnę
We wrote about your branding project for Leżę i pachnę. Can you tell us a little more about the project?
Well unfortunately this is one of those bitter-sweet projects. It is the project that gained us a lot of attention, the logo was even picked for the iconic Polish Signs Exhibition but well… there is the logo and there is the branding concept. We designed both but at the end of the day the client decided to use only the logo and drop the rest of our vision. But well… that’s the design business. You need to realise that it’s the client who invests his money in a brand and you need to accept it when he doesn’t want to spend money on your project.
The Society For Printable Geography
Do you have a typical customer and what distinguishes you from other design agencies?
As you have probably noticed from my previous answers right now we are at the stage of shaping our studio vision that we had in our minds from day one. And it also concerns the clients we work with right now. It was a long way but we’ve went from being subcontractors for bigger agencies to being an independent studio who works along our marketing partners for our own clients. And you can’t tell it from our portfolio yet but we’ve been focusing on the food market lately. We work on a plenty of branding and packaging projects for food products right now and it is a lot of fun for us! This is the thing I always wanted to do. As a getaway we cooperate with our friends from Motyf studio on various branding projects from pharmaceutics to the real estate market.
And what distinguishes us from other agencies? I might sound weird but I think it is an easy going attitude in the first place. We have a truly great atmosphere in the studio, we make fun of each other all the time and keep it fun. We don’t keep rigid working hours and as long as you keep the good of the work 100%, there is a long list of things that are allowed to do in our studio. I think such attitude somehow affects relationships with our clients. We love to work with people like us and if a client is stiff, then it won’t work most likely.
And who would be your dream client?
The one that pays on time, haha. But seriously now… I never thought of a specific brand when thinking about my dream client because what I like to do the most is shaping a brand from scratch. But I alway wanted to work for a brand that makes good coffee. I drink a lot of coffee, a lot of shitty coffee. I know little about coffee, so it would be nice to be paid with good coffee so there was no need to find one myself, haha.
In your projects you use very strong typography. Do you design them yourself, if so, what is the process to design one?
Thanks. We’re amateurs and we still have a lot to learn when it comes to typography but yes we’ve made many logos with our own letters and most of them are geometric ones. Usually we start from raw sketches then draw them using rectangles and circles and then we shape the details. We often look into typography related books and peep existing fonts for some hints and clues. This is quite enough for our needs so far. We are developing our skills though, and have been even attending calligraphy lessons for a year now. So hopefully you gonna see some more hand letterings from us.
On your website you have two addresses. One in Krakow, one in London. Why so?
We run two companies. One in Krakow and the other in London. With Poles being Britain’s second biggest ethnic minority such directions sounds reasonable.
One Life Left
What kind of role does paper play in your design process, and in the final product?
Bigger than ever right now. While we were working mostly as subcontractors we really didn’t have an opportunity to decide on such trivial things like paper, haha. Right now we design not only the graphics but also packaging so the paper has become important. And honestly until now I didn’t realise how many variable factors you need to keep in mind while choosing a good paper. And I’m not talking about the look only but also the ink, transportation, storage etc. Our view on paper have also changed. We’ve moved from treating the paper as a canvas that needs to be filled with the graphics to something that may speak louder than graphics itself.
Motyf + Ollestudio collaboration – bellfemina
If you’d have to guess, what will be the next trends in branding and packaging?
I don’t know but we will find it out on Dribbble soon 😉 But seriously I think branding and packaging trends will continue focusing on minimalism. We live too fast, we waste way too much. Packaging needs to try to solve the problems that we are facing because of our speed of living. Edible packages? That sounds like a plan.
How is the Polish design scene right now?
Strong. We got some big world recognized names in branding, typography, illustration, 3d and more. And the newcomers are breathing down their necks.
Whats does the future hold for Olle.?
Hangover. Our national football team plays euro qualifier today, haha. We will watch it together.
Thanks again Piotr for taking the time to answer our questions, it was a riot! I can bet my head that we’ll be hearing and seeing more of Olle. in the future. And good luck with finding time for a holiday!
Images via Olle.studio