At ADCE Festival Moby Digg’s Maximilian Heitsch, and Korbi Lenzer will host a workshop entitled ‘Generative Design, Processing the Future’, along with Serviceplan’s Saurabh Kakade. This workshop proposes a collaborative exercise focused on how to setup rules and frameworks to generate visual output.
Ahead of their workshop, Maximilian Heitsch gives us a short history and introduction to the design philosophy of this ground-breaking studio.
How did Moby Digg get started?
When we were studying we had to do an internship. We had already done some internships at agencies around Germany, so we decided maybe now was a good time to do our own thing, and start our own agency, and do an internship there.
We signed our own contracts, and then after that, we decided that we wanted to learn somewhere completely different; we decided that it would be interesting to go somewhere as far away as possible… so we decided to move to Buenos Aires and start a studio there. It was a place where we had never been, didn’t speak the language and didn’t know anyone. We thought it would be a nice concept to create something new in a completely unknown environment, and get inspired by that environment, and reshape our whole process of design and design thinking.
We moved to Buenos Ares for six months, and founded Moby Digg there, we did our own internship, at our own company.
Who were your first clients?
After Buenos Aires we moved back to Munich, where we are originally from. A friend-of-a-friend asked us to do a branding and mobile application for him in Cambodia. So right after we came back from BA we went to Cambodia.
We wanted to create a mobile application that would identify the growth status of a plant. But most of the farmers couldn’t read so we had to design a symbol system. We worked there for three weeks, but the project completely failed. It was a complete disaster, but a huge learning point for us and a really great experience.
After that we stayed digital. We started with simple web projects for friends-of-friends and it grew from there. Aside from commissioned work, we worked on several self-initiated projects for the city.
We don’t only think that we’re a design agency, but we’re a connector for people in the city. That we can be a kind of hub where people come together and create something as a collective.
TAAALKS – Challenging Boundaries Brand Identity
What was the moment that Moby Digg ‘came of age’?
A crucial moment was when we had our first employees, as the whole scenery of working with your best friend completely shifts.
That changed some of the process, but not our idealistic view. Our first employee we had after one and a half years, now we are eight people. Our big goal was that we not only create great work, but that we have great people around us. And that we have a feeling of being in a great team and accelerating through others.
Now what we’re trying to accomplish is to strengthen the positive aspects of each team member and create a team that is very versatile. The moment where we had the first feeling of being a team was two years ago –we accomplished stuff together but also failed together. It was a huge step for me personally, (I can’t speak for others) and I think was a moment of coming of age.
Success is something other people say about you. There is never a question about being successful or not, it’s a question about being true to yourself.
For me success is maybe something completely different from someone else. One thing that is important if you have a studio, is that you always try to give value first and think about depth of content. To not to be only a service to someone else but see yourself as someone who can create more than just what you do for clients.
Was there ever a moment you thought it wouldn’t succeed?
You have those moments all the time. Most of the time it’s connected to your fears. Obviously a lot of that is money. Sometimes it works out, other times it’s not that good.
For us it was always really good to have a partner who you could share your fears and your problems with, and go through that together. Therefore I’m really grateful for that. There was never a moment where I said ‘I don’t want to do this’, even if there are moments where you have a lot of stress; maybe it’s masochistic, but I love that.
We always try a lot of new stuff, new technologies, new designs, new ways of expressing communication, therefore there’s failure programmed. You will fail, definitely, a lot of times. That’s part of growing as a studio, that you learn to manage those failures and use them to accelerate and motivate – and not bring you down.
What’s next for Moby Digg?
We will go into the content creation area. We started with some events where we invited designers and technologists and we interviewed them. We want to create a lot of content that we put out through our channels. And try to create value for our (really small) community. We thought it could be an interesting model to not only be an agency but be a content creator in the area of design and technology.
‘Rewiring the Creative Machine’ is the thread running through the ADCE Festival’s conferences, workshops and networking opportunities. Last tickets are still available, with special discounts for students and ADCE members.