Let’s back way up and start with a little bit of background on each of you. Hamish, you’re from Australia and Jesse, you’re from Ohio. How did you both get into design?
Jesse: The reason I became a designer, officially, was because of Armin Hofmann. At this point everyone should know his book Graphic Design Manual, but it was studies from that collection that struck a chord with me. More cliches, but Joseph Muller-Brockmann, John Massey, Herbert Bayer, Tomoko Miho – they became an obsession of mine and obviously influenced the way I consider design to this day. However, the reason they were brought to my attention was only because of my professors – Gordon Salchow, Maureen France, Joe Bottoni, Heinz Shenker, Sennis Puhalla, Kristin Cullen, and a few others – they all shaped our thinking and how we see the world.
I can remember my first day of Type 1, and Kristin saying “Do you see these blinds? Do you know what I see? A baseline grid.” I know it sounds a little funny, but for whatever reason it resonated with me and I was hooked.
This isn’t my personal invention of a philosophy, but coming out of my education and professional practice, I’ve found reductive design to be a reliable approach. It’s not minimalism. I think that’s too easy a way out from the start. Starting with a complicated mass and slowly reducing it down to a core foundation is difficult, but that’s the magic of a design process. I should stop there.
Hamish: Fun fact is that we were both born in Australia. Jesse’s mother is American and he moved back here at a very young age. I moved here when I was 22 for an internship at Pentagram (I won an award at a conference in Australia for my student portfolio, and the prize was the internship).
I learnt almost all I know about design from Michael Bierut. I studied at RMIT in Melbourne, which gave me a really good foundation. But I don’t think I became truly obsessed with design until I started working at Pentagram. There I delved into the history much deeper than while at school.
What I learnt most from Michael was the art of presenting design work. He has a way of speaking and including everyone in the room that is truly remarkable, and hard to put into words. If you have been lucky enough to experience a presentation by Michael, you know what I’m talking about. Luckily I got to experience this hundreds of times, and I can only hope a bit of his magic has rubbed off.