Interview with: Corbin Mahieu
Ghent, the second largest city in Flanders and the Belgian city with the country’s highest concentration of listed buildings, is home to approximately 250,000 people and 23 museums. Having risen to prominence in the Middle Ages thanks to the cloth trade, it now frequently produces new design talents in the fields of fashion, interior design, film, and visual communication, thanks to institutions such as the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) and the Luca School of Arts (LUCA). We asked four graphically oriented Ghent-based design studios about their work, their influences, and the local places where they find inspiration.
Year of foundation: 2014
Number of employees: 1
Education: Graphic Design at Luca School of Arts Ghent
Fields of work: Editorial Design, Branding, Web Design, print
Locations of inspiration in Ghent: S.M.A.K., Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent (MSK), CAMPO Arts Centre, Huis van Alijn, RIOT gallery and bookshop, Nucleo art collective, Blanco bike shop , 019 location, Dokarea, Watt shop and bar, Gouvernement cultural platform, Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen natural reserve, many old bars in the centre of the city (Hotsy Totsy, Spijker, Hot Club de Gand, etc. )
Creative influence: I think almost everything influences a designer. A calm walk in the city is impossible, without looking at graphical marks in the street. Reading books becomes even more selective and the colour white suddenly holds a new colour spectrum of shades. But living in a city like Ghent surely has made an impact on me.
What would be your ideal project?
An ideal project would be one that is designed almost without compromises. I think every project holds graphical beauties and nice possibilities. I think it’s more difficult to find an ideal client than an ideal project. I’m always searching for an open-minded client with the same views and ideas on design as myself. So, I would love to work with someone with the same ambitions.
What do you think is special about the design scene in Ghent?
I think Ghent holds a very strong position in graphic design in Belgium, because it’s very unusual to have two impressive art and design schools in such a small city. The friendly competition between Luca School of Arts and KASK makes it possible to have a very high quality with students graduating in Ghent.
How would you characterise your working methods and style?
I have always thought that graphic design as a profession has an important role in our society and therefore should be approached seriously. But while designing you should be able to play and have fun with the idea and, most important, the forms themselves. Lately, I must say that I’m fallen in love again with the basics, using a minimalistic visual approach on forms and colour.
How did your visual language evolve?
I developed most of my graphical language in my early years of school. After my studies I started working with my former teachers Jan and Randoald. A few years after my graduation I did an internship at the Zak Group in London and at the moment I’m self-employed. All of these milestones had a big impact on my visual language. The last year I’ve tried to practice my designing process with an “honest simplicity”. The more I use this method the more satisfied I am with the final results. As a student it’s crucial to have tried everything, almost every font, almost every colour and different approaches on designing. After graduating it is very important to find your own design method distilled without losing your playfulness. Most of the time, I’m just fascinated by how different forms can co-exist on a sheet of paper.