An interview with studio NORM

24 July 2017


Di­mitri Bruni
Manuel Krebs


Gayaneh Bagdasaryan
Eugene Yukechev

Back in 2016, NORM Stu­dio gave a lec­ture at the Serebro Nabora con­fer­en­ce in Mo­scow. It was a case-study present­a­tion with the main fo­cus on type design. The strongest im­pres­sions one could get from the stor­ies presen­ted (the ty­po­graphy for Co­logne Air­port and for Omega and Swatch, the watch man­u­fac­tur­ers, among oth­ers) were the ri­gid lo­gic and con­sist­en­cy of ty­po­graph­ic­al ap­proach that the Zurich-based graph­ic de­sign­ers Di­mitri Bruni and Manuel Krebs fol­low in their prac­tice. Look­ing closely at the works, one could find one­self in a world some­where between their Swiss pre­de­cessors’ ex­per­i­en­ce: such as Ad­ri­an Fru­ti­ger’s sys­tem­at­ic at­ti­tude to type design and Max Bill’s math­em­at­ic­al way of visu­al think­ing.

Eu­gene Yukechev: The name of your stu­dio, NORM, sounds like a state­ment. Could you tell us the whole story be­hind it?

Di­mitri Bruni: When we star­ted the stu­dio in 1999, the tend­en­cy in graph­ic design was to be artist­ic, to have no rules. We wanted to be very dif­fer­ent, to fol­low the prin­ciples es­tab­lished in the 60s. We were more in­ter­es­ted in see­ing ourselves not as artists, but as in­form­a­tion en­gin­eers. We wanted to be a team, we wanted to have a name. We didn’t know ex­actly if we wanted to be a big com­pany. We needed a name and looked for something cold, clear, sharp and very defined. We had this name “Norm” and we nev­er dis­cussed it, we just had it. We wanted to make a magazine called Norm (which later some­how turned in­to a book). When we fin­ished school, we de­cided we’d use it for the name of the stu­dio.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: Be­fore speak­ing about your work, I would like to ask a ques­tion not re­lated to graph­ic design, but your mind­set and pref­er­en­ces in gen­er­al. What of the world cul­ture in­spired you?

Manuel Krebs: We like dif­fer­ent things. We cer­tainly share that we like works that are re­lated to a strong con­cep­tu­al ap­proach. We are in­flu­en­ced by Mod­ern­ism. We are at­trac­ted to Rus­si­an Av­ant-Garde and Min­im­al­ism. Since we are re­lated to con­tem­por­ary art, a lot of people around us work with­in this field.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: When you col­lab­or­ate with artists, do these artists have to be your soul­mates or some­how close to your mind­set, or it does not mat­ter?

Di­mitri Bruni: Col­lab­or­a­tion with an artist is not about what they do. We like func­tion­al­ism in our work, but we don’t ex­pect that from the artists — it could be the com­plete op­pos­ite. Con­trast is not about ex­clud­ing one an­oth­er, here col­lab­or­a­tion is much more im­port­ant. Of course, we like dif­fer­ent works by dif­fer­ent de­sign­ers, but col­lab­or­a­tion is the only thing that brings a pro­ject to a good end­ing. When we work for our own pro­jects, it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story, be­cause we mostly dis­cuss things between Manuel and me. As for col­lab­or­a­tion, we don’t really se­lect people we work with. Gen­er­ally, the artists come to us be­cause they find our work in­ter­est­ing; we don’t ask them to work with us. What we ex­pect from col­lab­or­a­tion is that people come to us be­cause of our way of think­ing.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: Once in an in­ter­view you said “We nar­row the fields of what is pos­sible”. That sounds like a mani­festo. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

Manuel Krebs: Sure. We try to avoid “mul­tiple choice”, be­cause you have to choose too much. We feel a little bit lost this way. We think that it also helps if you have re­stric­tions and nar­row lim­it­a­tions in your work. We made this choice of work­ing with re­stric­tions and we found a lot of pos­sib­il­it­ies with­in. If you de­term­ine the field of work, you can cre­ate max­im­um ef­fects with min­im­um means.

Di­mitri Bruni: A ques­tion that drives us is: When do you know that the work is done? How do you know where to stop? How do you know that you’ve reached the point when this design or typeface is good? When are you happy and sat­is­fied with it? We’ve talked a lot about this and we have an im­pres­sion that it is also an ad­vant­age of work­ing to­geth­er that we try to mark the end of a pro­ject by say­ing we are go­ing to use cer­tain ele­ments and con­straints. We say that we’ve ex­plored everything we can do with these ele­ments.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: For me, the idea of lim­it­a­tions sounds a bit re­li­gious, as if a per­son has guidelines and avoids everything they don’t need. Is that true for you?

Di­mitri Bruni: I think every­body does it in a way. I have something that I can mix and play with. For us it’s not just con­cep­tu­al, it’s also visu­al, and if we define cer­tain things, it’s also be­cause we are search­ing for a cer­tain visu­al ex­pres­sion. We some­how know where we want to go and what ex­pres­sion it should have. We talk a lot about work that in­flu­en­ces us and how we can reach something like this. If we work on pro­jects, we try to define most things in a ra­tion­al way. It turns fra­gile if you dis­cuss something very sub­ject­ive. We try to mostly have ob­ject­ive ar­gu­ment­a­tion for our choices. It works for us be­cause we can prove our choices. It’s dif­fi­cult to talk, for ex­ample, about col­ours, and when we are ques­tioned, we can say that there is lo­gic, num­bers and a sys­tem be­hind our choice. It gives se­cur­ity if we can ra­tion­ally state that these are the rules and we played by them, but also with ex­cep­tions.

Manuel Krebs: We are talk­ing here more about graph­ic design than type design, be­cause we also have many more pro­jects in graph­ic design. We have one type design pro­ject that we will oc­cupy ourselves with for some years and we have one design pro­ject every month. With­in graph­ic design, we are much more in­ter­es­ted in con­tinu­ity than in vari­ety. We want to re­fine and sharpen our voice and our visu­al lan­guage. We are not look­ing for very dif­fer­ent means of ex­pres­sion, but we have to get sharp­er in what we do. For ex­ample, in art school we had a task to make a logo­type for ourselves. Every­body made one hun­dred vari­ations dur­ing the semester and then the teach­er would choose the nicest. We al­ways hated it, be­cause we wanted to know the reas­ons be­hind this choice and thus the steps that lead us to cre­at­ing it.

Eu­gene Yukechev: You stud­ied to­geth­er at the Art School in Biel (Kan­tonale Schule für Gestal­tung Biell). Who were your teach­ers? Can you share with us what kind of ex­per­i­en­ce and val­ues you ab­sorbed from them?

Di­mitri Bruni: This art school was very small and, if I re­mem­ber cor­rectly, we had some teach­ers of graph­ic design, draw­ing and the­ory. If I look back, we had more classes in draw­ing. Our teach­ers were loc­al people. The way they taught graph­ic design was very tra­di­tion­al. There was a pro­fess­or from Basel and we drew squares, lines and ar­range­ments on pa­per for months. I think when I left the school I knew noth­ing about graph­ic design. We had to re­search what was go­ing on ourselves. Our edu­ca­tion of course gave us some ba­sic ref­er­en­ces, but so much was lack­ing in the way we were taught.

Manuel Krebs: In­deed. Un­for­tu­nately, our teach­ers had lost their bear­ings, they didn’t know what to refer to. We quickly real­ised that the most im­port­ant things would not come from the teach­er. The most valu­able thing at school was ex­change among the stu­dents. One of the big ad­vant­ages was that we could dis­cuss things as we dis­covered them. For ex­ample, we would dis­cov­er graph­ic design of the 30s or 50s and dis­cuss it among ourselves, which was very valu­able. We had a class of only eight stu­dents and we tried our own things, we judged things to­geth­er and could be very en­thu­si­ast­ic about things. Our teach­ers were not con­fid­ent with the whole her­it­age of 1960s Swiss design, so we dis­covered it ourselves. We dis­covered Josef Müller-Brock­mann, Hans Neuburg, Vivarelli, Lohse and wondered why they wouldn’t talk about their work.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: We have all been taught in uni­versit­ies that let­ters should be drawn by eye, fol­low­ing your feel­ings and not us­ing a ruler. All known his­tor­ic­al at­tempts to cre­ate a scheme, a uni­ver­sal prin­ciple, al­ways ended up as a kind of fail­ure. Even Fu­tura took a long time to fine-tune so that it could be used. And with such a his­tor­ic­al back­ground, you cre­ated the typeface Rep­lica, which can be used not only in large sizes, but also for long texts. I won­der, how did you achieve that? 

Manuel Krebs: It’s really im­port­ant to know that we are self-taught in type design, we are not trained in it. We were just draw­ing Hel­vet­ica in lower­case on our stud­ies. It would nev­er oc­cur to us to draw an en­tire al­pha­bet for text type. Text fonts for us were al­ways far away and we didn’t even think of do­ing one, un­til we real­ised sev­en years later that we could try do­ing something more suit­able. The pro­cess of cre­at­ing Rep­lica was very long, there were many steps in between be­fore we reached it. The con­straint with the re­duced grid made things easi­er and more dif­fi­cult at the same time — every step would be drastic.

Di­mitri Bruni: Maybe it doesn’t look good, but in the end you try to find a less ugly op­tion that is pos­sible with­in the giv­en re­stric­tions. That’s ex­actly what we liked in this pro­ject. Some let­ters were easy, some made our eyes hurt. Of course, in the end our ev­al­u­ation was sub­ject­ive. For us it was a long way, but we wanted to know that there was something be­hind, something hid­ing be­hind, these nice draw­ings. We wanted a really func­tion­ing typeface. We are still very at­trac­ted to graph­ic and ex­press­ive typefaces. It’s ob­vi­ous in Rep­lica. I have to say that we didn’t know that we would be us­ing Rep­lica so much when we were mak­ing it. If you are a phar­macist and you make a medi­cine, you test it on your­self. When Rep­lica was fin­ished, we star­ted to think what we could do with it. We made books that we used as test­ers. We have the tool, it’s our tool, so let’s see what we can do, let’s use it now.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: Ac­tu­ally, when I asked the pre­vi­ous ques­tion, I had my own sug­ges­tion, be­cause I ex­amined Rep­lica be­fore. But I was won­der­ing what your an­swer would be. I think you’re try­ing to fool people, guys! You draw all the char­ac­ters by eye, like all type de­sign­ers do, and af­ter­wards you just add the grid un­der­neath. As an ex­ample, the num­bers 6 and 9 are drawn in dif­fer­ent ways, with all op­tic­al com­pens­a­tions. So first you drew the let­ters and then you put them on the grid?

Manuel Krebs: (laughs) You mean, we just pre­tend to have a concept? 

Di­mitri Bruni: Yes, of course, we draw the let­ters by eye, but with those re­stric­tions, you know. It was ac­tu­ally a pro­cess. The way you do it, be­fore or after, is not really im­port­ant in the end. You have an idea of what the al­pha­bet should look like and you work to­wards it. For some de­sign­ers, the grid hap­pens be­fore, for some after. And if the let­ters don’t look good in the end, we al­ways can say “Oh, it’s be­cause of the grid!”

Manuel Krebs: Rep­lica was not on the grid in the be­gin­ning and the idea of Rep­lica was not com­pletely clear. Yes, we had some prob­lems mak­ing de­cisions un­til we de­cided that if we do this, it would have such a good in­flu­en­ce and jus­ti­fy so many de­cisions.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: For me, graph­ic design is di­vided in­to Swiss design and non-Swiss. How do you see your own po­s­i­tion? And how do you per­ceive the rest, non-Swiss design? For me, as a type de­sign­er, Switzer­land seems to be the centre of the world. And look­ing at Swiss de­sign­ers, I have the im­pres­sion that they see their po­s­i­tion in ex­actly this way. Is that true?

Manuel Krebs: It’s a fact that we are con­fron­ted with Swiss design. We work at the Mu­seum of Design and it keeps com­ing at us. I would say the in­flu­en­ce is strong and it’s all around. We can­not avoid it and we keep re­act­ing to it. How could it be dif­fer­ent? We are edu­cated in Switzer­land, we grew up here, we live here, we are sur­roun­ded by everything Swiss, so it’s our nat­ur­al be­ha­viour.

Di­mitri Bruni: Some­times Swiss designs cre­ated out­side Switzer­land look more Swiss. For ex­ample, there were Swiss style designs from the United States for a phar­ma­ceut­ic­al com­pany in Switzer­land that also pro­duced pack­aging in Amer­ica. They were much fresh­er and people iden­ti­fied them with Switzer­land. It looked more au­then­t­ic. We also had de­sign­ers work­ing in the Swiss style in Par­is (Jean Wid­mer, Ad­ri­an Fru­ti­ger) or Mil­an (Wal­ter Ballmer) who did very strong designs. 

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: What do you think about Dutch graph­ic design?

Manuel Krebs: It’s very mod­ern. It’s also more fun. Not like Swiss. I ask my­self where this fresh­ness comes from and they tell me that they learn from Swiss guys.

Di­mitri Bruni: It’s close to Swiss graph­ic design, but they are easi­er, they have much more hu­mour and free­dom. I’m al­ways amazed at how they can be so free. It’s very nice and de­lib­er­ate.

Eu­gene Yukechev: It is also true of Dutch type design, isn’t it? 

Manuel Krebs: First of all, they have ser­i­ous edu­ca­tion for type de­sign­ers, which is lack­ing in Switzer­land. There is a type design MA Pro­gramme in The Hag­ue and it’s much bet­ter than any­thing we have in Switzer­land. There­fore, we have deep re­spect for typefaces made in the Neth­er­lands, they are more trus­ted. Es­pe­cially with the in­flu­en­ce of such people as Noordz­ij, Ri­etveld and those around him. It’s a fresh­er, but less clas­sic type design.

Eu­gene Yukechev: Dutch type design is mostly based on strong cal­li­graph­ic tra­di­tion and it seems to be the op­pos­ite of what you do. 

Di­mitri Bruni: Yes, that is true and we re­spect that. There is also a lack of people who can teach cal­li­graphy in Switzer­land. For ex­ample, the school in Zurich (Zürch­er Hoch­schule der Kün­ste) just star­ted a pro­gramme in type design, but their ex­per­i­en­ce is very dif­fer­ent from a school that has been do­ing it for twenty or thirty years. They’ve just star­ted and they are just check­ing it out, be­cause the people also lack ex­per­i­en­ce in teach­ing. They just star­ted the Mas­ter’s pro­gramme in type design and we don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: Did you ever use someone else’s typefaces in your pro­jects?

Di­mitri Bruni: We only use our own typefaces. Con­sid­er­ing the past 12 years, we have only made a few ex­cep­tions. This choice is not ne­ces­sary a re­stric­tion, but more of a con­vic­tion. The typeface is the start­ing point, the core, the mo­lec­ule of every design. A tool that we can trust and that must ful­fill our needs. The typefaces we do are the ones we know the best. We have used Simple and Rep­lica for over 6 years, and now Ri­forma for 2 years. It looks like a con­tinu­ous pro­cess, so now look­ing at the past, we can guess the fu­ture… De­cid­ing to work only with one typeface also solves the prob­lem of choos­ing. But in the end, the real ques­tion is: What are we go­ing to do with it?

Eu­gene Yukechev: How do you re­act to the con­tent of a book? What does your book design pro­cess look like?

Manuel Krebs: We’ve made a lot of books and their design is very di­verse. It’s mainly re­lated to the pro­ject and we al­ways try to di­min­ish our role as much as pos­sible. We think it’s not a stage for us, but for the pro­ject, as an as­sign­ment. We don’t want to cre­ate a book cov­er just to im­press our fel­low de­sign­ers. We changed our at­ti­tude and think it should serve the con­text. We are def­in­itely not artists and we do not work as such. We see our job as a craft and not as an artist­ic cre­ation.

I can give you an­oth­er ex­ample about Ri­forma. There was an ex­hib­i­tion in Zurich, it was called Dada­globe Re­con­struc­ted. Tristan Tzara had a pro­pos­al for a book that he star­ted in 1918 and was sup­posed to come out in 1921. He in­vited people from all over Europe and the US to send him texts and pic­tures. Tristan Tzara col­lec­ted all these files, took the ma­ter­i­al and in­dic­ated the pages. The book was roughly de­signed, he de­term­in­ed the form and con­tent. He made a de­scrip­tion of the book format. Then it was for­got­ten. Tristan Tzara died. All of his col­lec­tion went to auc­tion and was sold. There was a wo­man from New York who heard about it for the first time. Only now, for the 100-year an­niversary of Dada, that wo­man re­col­lec­ted it — she went to mu­seums around the world and got everything to­geth­er. There was an ex­hib­i­tion in Zurich and the idea to fi­nally make a cata­logue ap­peared. We thought we would use Ri­forma type for it any­way. It was im­me­di­ately a very po­lem­ic­al situ­ation. They said that we had to use the kind of typeface that Dada used.

We star­ted to do the lay­out and star­ted to think what would hap­pen if Da­daists could use a Ma­cin­tosh com­puter like we do now. It would be crazy. There are so many pos­sib­il­it­ies, col­ours and types that you can stretch and squeeze. An­oth­er at­ti­tude might have been to try to im­it­ate as much as we could. At the same time, we didn’t want pre­tend that we are Da­daists, be­cause we are not and it’s a mod­ern pub­lic­a­tion of today.

We could do a vir­tu­ous thing and show how skil­ful we are, but in the end it’s not about us. So we de­cided to use only the Ri­forma typeface and we de­cided we could have il­lus­tra­tions on a page, up­per­case and lower­case. We needed some clear rules. It was more about how we use the typeface.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: But you write books about design, it’s something like das Glasper­len­spiel (Ger­man for “glass bead game”). Is that not art?

Manuel Krebs: Yes, we have our own pub­lic­a­tions where we do what we want and it’s very dif­fer­ent.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: Since we’ve star­ted talk­ing about art, what do design and art have in com­mon in your opin­ion? How do they dif­fer from each oth­er? Do they de­pend on each oth­er?

Manuel Krebs: I think both art and design work with the same ma­ter­i­al in the end. It’s all about the things you can see. The artists and de­sign­ers can con­cen­trate on art or on type, but the ef­fect they have on the view­er is based on the same ele­ments of ex­pres­sion. Of course, art and design are in­ter­re­lated and in­spire each oth­er. Aes­thet­ic­ally, they are very close, but they have dif­fer­ent func­tions.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: What at­tracts you in prin­ted things? Do you feel the need to cre­ate phys­ic­al stuff?

Di­mitri Bruni: Yes, we feel this need. This par­tially comes from school. We are in­ter­es­ted in cre­at­ing phys­ic­al things. Read­ing a prin­ted book is very dif­fer­ent from read­ing a book on screen. We like print, we like ma­chines. We have to make an ex­ten­sion in­to the di­git­al area, but we like this mech­an­ic­al and phys­ic­al as­pect. I have an im­pres­sion that if it’s only di­git­al, it’s not true. For ex­ample, if the typeface is not prin­ted, it’s not real, some­how. See­ing your typeface on the screen is very dif­fer­ent too.

Eu­gene Yukechev: Speak­ing of di­git­al tech­no­lo­gies. Just a few weeks ago at the ATypI con­fer­en­ce in Warsaw a new tech­no­logy, Vari­able Fonts, was in­tro­duced. What do you think about that?     

Di­mitri Bruni: I love ri­gid­ity. Vari­able fonts sounds like the di­git­al ad­ap­tion of Karl Ger­st­ner’s typeface in “Pro­gramme en­twer­fen”, based on a 3-ax­is spa­tial co­or­din­ates sys­tem with end­less flu­id­ity. Truly the night­mare of mul­tiple choices. But still, it looks like the near fu­ture. Tech­nic­ally very in­ter­est­ing. Who knows, in a far-off fu­ture we might have Ul­tra-Vari­able fonts that will al­low us to swipe between Times and Hel­vet­ica.

Manuel Krebs: I see this new font format as a tool, and if you have con­trol of it, it could be ex­cel­lent. But if you don’t know what to do with it, you won’t pro­gress much. I’m sure people will make great use of it, when it comes out. I think it opens up some op­tions for text fonts. For ex­ample, you can match the fig­ures with a re­spons­ive screen, but you have to see the whole pic­ture to fi­nal­ise it. It de­pends on the users. There are cer­tainly com­pan­ies that need it.

Eu­gene Yukechev: You dis­trib­ute your fonts ex­clus­ively via Lineto. Could you tell us a bit more about your ex­per­i­en­ce with the type foundry? 

Manuel Krebs: We have been work­ing with Lineto from the be­gin­ning. It’s a small type foundry that doesn’t have hun­dreds of typefaces. Our typefaces are used along­side oth­er typefaces and we want to sup­port these loc­al busi­ness part­ners, who are our friends. It’s a com­mu­nity. We also know oth­er people who have foundries of the same size, but we are very happy with Lineto. It would be a bad idea to go to a dif­fer­ent foundry. It’s not like we design three typefaces every year. We mostly work with them be­cause both of us are very slow. They have a very good se­lec­tion of typefaces. They take care of this and their cred­ib­il­ity.

Lineto has a good re­pu­ta­tion. It’s linked with that men­tal­ity of con­nect­ing the old and new gen­er­a­tion. They are also very en­gaged in our cre­at­ive pro­cess, be­cause we talk a lot to them about what we do. In the end, they really lead the dis­cus­sion. Some­times we go to Ber­lin to show them things and dis­cuss it all. There is a lot of dis­cus­sion and it’s good for us. Some­times you need a fresh look, be­cause you work on a pro­ject for a long time. All dis­cus­sions with them are very pro­duct­ive and we need this kind of con­nec­tion. That’s why we are there.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: What does your cre­at­ive col­lab­or­at­ing look like? Is it more like ping-pong?

Manuel Krebs: We have so many things that we share, we talk about very spe­cif­ic things. I’m very happy to not work alone. It’s great to have this kind of con­front­a­tion and check­ing of new ideas. Judge­ment from Di­mitri is very im­port­ant for me. Many times a day we ask each oth­er ques­tions and have very short dis­cus­sions, when we are not sure. And these short dis­cus­sions give you cer­tainty, be­cause you have to make a lot of de­cisions and choices. We have changed many things this way. If I worked alone, I would have evolved very dif­fer­ently. We have col­leagues who work alone and they are in their own cos­mos some­how. In a cer­tain way, they are aut­ist­ic. In our case, you have a crit­ic and a sup­port that makes you strong if we both have to de­fend something. We have some things we don’t agree on, and some­times I’m up­set when I need to change something we had dis­cussed. Cer­tainly, if you have two people, the graph­ic lan­guage is marked by this.

Di­mitri Bruni: I would say ex­actly the same thing, just chan­ging the names. It’s a long re­la­tion­ship and it also has its evol­u­tion. In many cases, we just have to look at each oth­er to know what to do. It’s the per­son I trust when mak­ing de­cisions. You would be shocked if you saw us talk­ing about things. Some­times you have to ex­plain something, some­times you don’t. But very of­ten our words are “good”, “not good”, “ter­rible”. The con­ver­sa­tion is also very visu­al. Very of­ten we have op­tions when work­ing on pro­jects. We are our best part­ners and our worst cli­ents at the same time. If we agree on something, you would also agree with us.

Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: Are you of­ten com­pletely sat­is­fied with the res­ults of your work?

Manuel Krebs: It’s easi­er with a typeface. With graph­ic design, I’m al­most al­ways dis­ap­poin­ted. When we design it or talk about it, it’s al­ways very good. But when I see it, I real­ise that it’s not so close to what we wanted, be­cause we didn’t work pre­cisely enough dur­ing pro­duc­tion.

Di­mitri Bruni: When we print a book and they come to the stu­dio, we leave the box lay­ing on the table for hours, and when we open it, we only see the prob­lems. Some books are of good qual­ity and some are not. We try hard to make good work for ourselves first. If it’s good for oth­ers, it’s not ne­ces­sar­ily good for us. You must judge your own work, and it’s nice when oth­er people like it too. But you have to know for your­self that it’s good and not be fooled by an out­side com­ment.

Manuel Krebs: We re­flect a lot on what we have done in the past. We have to have a crit­ic­al look at it. Some­times we see something we did 15 years ago and say, “Hey we can’t do any­thing as lib­er­ated any­more”. Now, we won­der weath­er if we had seen our ac­tu­al work 15 years ago if we had thought, “Hey how ter­ribly straight and bor­ing”.


Gay­an­eh Bag­dasary­an: A fi­nal ques­tion: what is beauty?

Di­mitri Bruni: Beauty is when it’s right.

Manuel Krebs: I totally agree. A short story. I was in a small vil­lage in Italy on va­ca­tion. One day, they made a party for some spe­cial oc­ca­sion. They de­cided to dec­or­ate the street for that and I was help­ing out. We used small gar­lands that we made ourselves. At some point I wondered if we had enough, and a wo­man looked at me and said, “Empti­ness is ugly”. So, when you are talk­ing about beauty, you also talk about a cer­tain ugli­ness. They are re­lated. Some­times, ugli­ness fas­cin­ates us much more than beauty. I also think that there is not really much room for empti­ness — our world is full of things. But you need a cer­tain empti­ness to com­pare.

Di­mitri Bruni: As for the ques­tion wheth­er beauty should be out­side or in­side, we, or at least I, am more in­ter­es­ted in beauty com­ing from the in­side, which re­quires cer­tain sys­tem­at­ic de­cisions and ra­tion­al think­ing. A thing be­comes beau­ti­ful when there are no ques­tions about the fi­nal res­ult, even if it looks ugly.