‘I always had a desire to work in a different culture for both the professional and personal experience. I was drawn to Oslo for many reasons: after researching the other Scandinavian countries I felt Oslo had the most exciting and relatively unknown design scene with a lot of fantastic small design studios. Also, I felt it would be a fun challenge to go somewhere there aren’t so many established Irish/foreign designers already—to figure it out for myself. Of course, Scandinavian culture and the lifestyle here was another big draw…’ Cork-born CIT graduate Evan McGuinness certainly is blazing a new trail, having landed in Oslo in 2014 to begin working with Bielke&Yang. He now works on a broad range of projects both inside and outside the studio.
He talks about the projects he works on with great enthusiasm, and sees collaboration both with clients and other creatives as key to making great work. 'A few projects we do in the studio are almost like personal projects as we're working people we know who are starting or part of something they want us to help them with, for example, the Maaemo identity and book (coming Feb16), Holzweiler, the Arkitekturstriper exhibition, Lasse Fløde's book Blikkstille, to mention a few.' He tells us about how each body of work, from those involved in creating it to the process used to bring it into being, is bespoke: 'Every job is almost tailored to the specific needs of each client and by always working with other talented people, and as a result we're exposed to the newest ideas from a variety of different disciplines. Many operate in completely unrelated fields to graphic design, but it's the level of detail, ambition and dedication they show in their work that really influences our thinking and how we approach our craft as a designers.'
He identifies working with new industries and new design disciplines as a really rewarding challenge: 'We're working with some exciting startups here in Norway who are focused on service design for a variety of industries. They're going to be a real challenge, but that's something that always excites me as a designer. Also the fact they actually have the potential to improve the lives of other people: those have always been the kind of projects I've aspired to work on.' In addition to soaking up inspiration from the people he works with, the approaches they take the design outcomes he sees around him, Evan's also keen to get to grips with the arguably less sexy but altogether very important business side of design. 'Christian and Martin are fantastic and I’ve learnt a tremendous amount from them in the three years I’ve been here and are always open to me learning and developing new skills at the studio. At the moment they’ve been helping me to learn more about the process of pricing and the business behind the design process. We're quite a small studio working with clients of varying sizes so it has been interesting to get more involved in that process.'
With all this great learning material surrounding him, we ask what's the most important thing he's learned so far (if he could even narrow it down). 'I think the most important lesson I've learnt so far is having the ability to adapt quickly to whatever situation you're thrown into (or you've thrown yourself into). This can apply to moving country, learning new skills, even client meetings or adjusting to different studio environments. In many ways, it's more of a mindset: to be open and positive towards whatever task/opportunity comes your way and not afraid to step out of your comfort zone, I think that's how you grow as a designer and it's what keeps things interesting.'
Take a look at Evan's submissions to the 100 including an impressive eight Archive selections.