As we all know, I’m a fan of OCTAEVO. Earlier in the summer I had a chat with their lovely Creative Director, Marcel Baer.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your background
I am a Swiss graphic designer and art director living in Barcelona. I studied Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art Graphic Design in London and started to work soon after for various design agencies in London and New York. Five years ago I moved to Barcelona, it wasn’t a conscious decision, more a coincidence. My mother’s side is Spanish and I spent every summer with them in the South and my father travelled as he was a captain of a ship. There was this connection with the Mediterranean and I have always been interested in its history. The idea started to grow in my head of travelling the Mediterranean in search for stories and transforming them into beautifully crafted goods. Working with start-up clients in the past has nurtured my desire to start my own company, it was very much a personal challenge… That was the starting point of OCTAEVO. Besides that I still work as an art director for a few selected clients from the fields of fashion, art and hotel industry.
My favourite products of yours is the Riviera Bookmark – what is yours and why?
It’s difficult to choose a favourite product as each has its own story and I am emotionally very attached to all of them. For the Riviera Bookmark
I was working with metal for the first time which was a great experience, the die-cut steel is coated with black paint which gives it a very soft and warm touch. The mount board on the other hand is cut with the guillotine, leaving the edges slightly unfinished, what is supposed to be a cold material becomes warm and what was smooth becomes rough. I like the idea of mixing materials and create contrasts through textures. If I really have to chose a favourite product, it probably would be the “Sea Shore Envelopes”, they are a kraft paper envelope lined with printed fabric. This is a product that we only see online in a limited edition. We had to find a way to glue the fabric on the paper so it wouldn’t wrinkle and had to experiment with the amount of glue. Even though it seems such a simple product, we needed to find the right craftsperson as the envelope needed a lot of attention to detail.
Are there any particular designers/brands that inspire you?
I am not a brand person, I just simply appreciate a product that is consciously made, respects the environment and
that had put some thought into it. I am inspired by stories and always have been interested in history and travel, discovering new places, diving into the unknown.
The Altair bookshop in Barcelona and Daunt Books in London specialise in travel literature and are great places to spend hours in. Inspiration for me is also a lot to do with everyday objects and certain moments; sometimes it’s just a shadow, interesting architecture; an exhibition or simply a combination of colours that catch my eye.
Photography and illustrations are a great source of inspiration as well, again it’s all about diving into another world and story. It was very clear from the beginning that OCTAEVO collaborates with Mediterranean creatives and artists who are the main inspiration for the project. I like to think of OCTAEVO as a platform of Mediterranean talent…
Why did you start making stationery?
As a graphic designer and art director I have always been fascinated with stationery products and craftsmanship, so I decided to combine both my passions. Obviously as a designer I like a nice printed piece and I have always been a bit of a collector, I suddenly realised that I had accumulated a huge archive of stationery… and I wasn’t even aware of it. Stationery is very personal and stays with the user over a certain amount of time, sometimes forever.
They are pieces that travel and are filled with ideas and very often with the most intimate stories, I find that very fascinating and like to see our products as personalised as possible. Even though OCTAEVO started with stationery, we are now exploring other products to add to the mix.
Product and interior design have always been a passion of mine.
What was the first product you made?
Actually there wasn’t a first product, the first thing that existed were the Mediterranean stories. I knew that I wanted to have a product that tells a story about the character of the sea, one about the glamorous riviera in the 60s, the Greek philosophers, graphic marble floors… I then made a list of items that I wanted to design for the first collection and started to design them all in the same week. They were all finished at the same time a few months later. As a Mediterranean brand we want our products to feel warm… Sourcing the right materials and combining them is a big part of the process, each product passes through various workshops and every step has to be perfectly executed from start to finish. That’s the reason why we work on them in parallel.
What’s next for you? Do you have any new products in the pipeline?
As we only started 8 month ago, we are focusing during the summer to mostly bring our products to the customers. We are selective when it comes to the stores so a lot of work goes into finding the right locations. In a few weeks we will launch a summer version of the Riviera Bookmark in various colours, I am excited about it because we have chosen very cool colours. In July we will be hosting our first “OCTAEVO Creative Dinner”, a collaboration with a fantastic cooking workshop in Barcelona called “La Patente”. We invite a group people from various creative fields and cook a Mediterranean dinner together. Such an event obviously starts with customised invitations, decorating the space, choosing the right ingredients… Gastronomy and food is something that is very important to me, I love to eat and cook! We are also currently finishing a few bespoke projects for some clients and are developing new products that we are planning to launch after summer, right in time for Christmas.
What’s in your pencil case/on your desk?
My table is actually quite minimal: a laptop and a cup of coffee. I love coffee and by the evening usually have quite a lot of unfinished cups on my desk. Getting a coffee or an ice cream in summer is always a good excuse to have a break, I tend to keep the chaos on the other tables around me.
Tell us something we don’t know about OCTAEVO!
Most people don’t know that we are a very small team. I work with Rebeca, who studied product design and is now taking care of the production and also manages the studio. Depending on the work load, we do have external help but the studio structure is very flexible. We are currently looking for talented designers and also press interns. On the funny side, what just a few people know is that Rebeca and I always have an bottle of Aperol hidden in the studio, sometimes there are days that just need to be finished with a good drink and laugh. And we always quarrel about what music to put on…