Information Graphics : Taschen
Becoming a Graphic Designer 4 : Steven Heller & Teresa Fernandes
The Design Entrepreneur : Steven Heller & Lita Talarico
Essentially Odd : 826 National
Graphic Style 4 : Steven Heller & Seymour Chwast
Sketchbook : Timothy O'Donnell
Graphic Design Referenced : Bryony Gomez-Palacio & Armin Vit
What kind of biscuits/snacks did you have in meetings at your office?
Before any business was discussed, we all sat down to a dinner of the older delicacies — the sort that you would have enjoyed at a minor Bavarian prince’s banquet in the early 1700s or so. There was always a whole boiled pig stuffed with radishes and birch leaves. The fowl course paired pheasant (also boiled, but in a broth of allspice and Reisling), goose gizzard, and charred sparrow. We were very big on the organ meats: heart, lung, lymph, etc. Of course there was a great deal of home-brewed squash-dandelion beer and wines from the lower Rhine. We did not serve pasta or anything Italian, as the Italian culinary tradition was far too effeminate for our clients. For dessert, a nice pudding of pumpernickel loaf, maple syrup, and rough country paté, drenched in brandy, was just the thing. We liked our clients to have the fear of God in them from the outset.
Which foods did you turn to when you need a lift?
Nothing better that a few good chunks of milk-boiled beef tripe. Wash it down with 3-hour-steeped Persian wildweed coffee.
Tea or coffee? What kind?
We did not drink tea. We are Americans, after all. Our coffee pot was replenished continually from an initial ‘starter’ brew concocted in February of 1936, which flavored the pots we made for years. It was hard to miss the notes of peat moss and chalk. Over the years, in addition to more peat moss, the brew included almost anything, from unsweetened chocolate, dried rhubarb, wheat germ husks, Indian corn, used coffee grounds from the local Lebanese felafel stand, to sawdust. It was ‘coffee’ in a sort of abstract, Platonic sense.
Did you have music in the creative department?
We did not, first off, have a proper creative department. We liked to think of the office lay-out more like Beijing, or a panopticon — it was a system of concentric regions. The center was completely silent and couldn’t be entered without various tests of strength and was usually empty during the day. At night it was leased to a Canadian laundry service. Working out from the center was the Telecom Division, which handled all customer service calls and was located in Sweden. Then the Large Bathroom (self-explanatory, for large people), the Computer Room, which was kept at 45 degrees F (to keep the gin chilled) and was bathed in blue light. Then the Small Bathroom, the Library (smaller than the Small Bathroom), and finally the Moat. But in answer to your question, yes of course we had music: a Bulgarian string quartet played continuously from the balcony.
If so, what was on your current playlist?
Mostly Prince. But with a Bulgarian accent.
Are there any musical genres that were banned from the studio/creative department?
We didn’t ban musical genres so much as a) musical instruments (lutes, Pan flutes, miniature harps, Greek pipes, and harpsichords) and especially b) musical clichés. Exclaiming “That rocks like a mid-career Neil Young ballad” would get you an hour in the Moat. Comparing anything to Arcade Fire would result in you being shunned for one month. Any reference to a Chuck Klosterman essay could easily have gotten you transferred to the Telecom Division, DURING WINTER.
On a scale of 1 to 11, how loud was the music?
With 1 being the most Baroque? I’d say about a 3.
As you get closer to deadline did the music go up or down?
As deadlines approached the music got louder because the office got much more crowded. This was because our policy was to bring our clients in to the office to do the work of putting together the presentations that we made to them. Since they knew nothing about graphic design (don’t even get me started on what we had to teach them about the software), we also brought in the design faculty of the University of Constantinople, plus a team of translators. So, with all those people, we would up the string quartet to a full octet and for really big projects a baker’s dozen (who, strangely, only sang barbershop).