All good things come to an end… Olof ten Hoorn, Design Director, is leaving the Netherlands after spending almost half of his life at Design Bridge in Amsterdam. Olof will leave us to embark on an exciting venture – he will be emigrating to Australia where he has accepted a job at Cowan and live with his family in his wife’s homeland. We decided to interview him before he left, to find out about his experience of Design Bridge and what life is like as a Design Director.
Olof’s career at Design Bridge started in 1994 being a Studio trainee, gradually growing to become a Design Director in 2006. In 2007 he was the proud winner of a Diamond Pentaward for Swinckels (Bavaria) and in 2008 he was awarded Best of Show at the Mobius Awards for the work he designed for Farm Frites.
A: Design Bridge kind of chose me. I was on a Studio internship at Motion Creation, a Dutch packaging agency, in 1994. At that time Design Bridge wanted to open a Dutch office and the initial plan was that they would merge with this Dutch agency. Things didn’t go quite as planned. Motion Creation ceased to exist. Design Bridge took over some of the staff including the intern. In 1996, after I graduated at the Graphic School of Amsterdam, I got offered a position as a Junior Designer at Design Bridge. And the rest as they say is history.
Q: How would you describe working life at Design Bridge?
A: At Design Bridge you work hard and play hard. I have seen so many people come and go throughout the years but for some reason the spirit of the company has always remained the same. Its a pleasure to work with so many different people from very different cultures (14 different nationalities within the Amsterdam office!) but there is one thing we all have in common: the love for design and the constant drive to be the best in what you do. This dynamic creativity, coupled with strategic insight, has helped us to win international creative awards such as the Pentawards, D&AD, Clio and Mobius.
Q: What’s a day in the life of a design director?
A: Generally very busy. There are lots of different (local and global) projects to oversee but you have to be hands on at the same time. Being a Design Director means you have to make sure the team are always creating their most inspired design work every day, keeping us ahead of the game as an agency. Each day is different, but it can include anything from attending a client briefing in Dubai or kick off workshop with the rest of the team, to working in small groups or one to one, to crack a particular creative challenge. I also worked closely with the studio planning and operations guys to ensure that my team had sufficient time to work on projects, so they could dig deeper and get inspired, to deliver their best work for clients.
Q: What projects are you most proud of?
A: You would think I’d choose the projects I have won awards with. I realised the other day that I am probably the only Packaging and Brand designer in the world that has won all the different Pentawards. Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. But I’m actually much more proud of the projects that have really made a difference. Because of our successful designs many brands have been able to open up new factories providing lots of new jobs in their regions, for instance.
Q: What will you miss most from Design Bridge, besides all the people of course?
A: At Design Bridge they sure know how to party, I will really miss the Christmas parties and Summer Away Days.
Q: If you had to pick one, what’s the funniest story you could tell while working here?
A: Working for Design Bridge means travelling a lot as well. One day I went on a business trip to Saudi where I had a traditional lunch in a sheep barn and we all had to take off our shoes. Unfortunately the smell of my client’s feet literally brought tears to my eyes.
Q: Any advice for our next Design Director?
A: Work your ass off and don’t be an asshole
Inspired by Olof’s story? If you’re as passionate about the power of ideas as we are, and you’re after a career rather than just a job, we’d love to meet you. We’re constantly growing, so there’s a good chance you might just have the skills and talent we’re after. Check out our website and the link to the current jobs we have available. We might be looking for you!
by Anna Stanford