Residency Dispatch: Agency Visit Parte Tres

This is Block Club designer Tim Staszak’s‘s fourth dispatch from Barcelona, where he is working remotely for six weeks as part of Block Club’s Residency Program—an employee development initiative representative of our ongoing commitment to infuse the work we do for our clients with innovative practices, fresh methodologies, and global perspectives. Check out Tim’s previous dispatch here.

In my final few days in Barcelona, I visited with Philippe Rouger and Rafa Soto of Herraiz Soto & Co., a creative agency that specializes in strategy, consultancy, digital experiences, branding, naming, and motion graphics. It also creates and sells products from a massive studio space in a converted WWI airplane factory nestled into the Sant Marti neighborhood.

Layout

The office is broken up into several areas, the first being a large open space where the desks are decked out with patio umbrellas, which I am sure to come in handy with all the natural light they get from the sawtooth roof. The waiting area has an arcade game and a conference room canopied by scaffolding with an office above. There is also a larger meeting space where most of the employees were gathered and another large space beyond that was a bit to be determined in terms of purpose but had been used for photo shoots and art openings. It could possibly become an experimental space where people can purchase and experience some of the products the agency produces.

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Conversation

Rafa gave me a brief history of the company, explaining that it has been a digital-based company from the beginning. It was there when the internet was this still new, cool thing–experimental and exciting and not the awful place full of trolls and “shit” (his words) we know today. Herraiz Soto & Co. was always building and designing for brands through digital experiences. Whether in the form of a website, app, or a physical experimental space, the digital aspect was always there. In time, the agency also began to build and prototype products through its Lab and &Cos company branches.

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Innovation

In its Lab branch, Herraiz Soto & Co. creates apps, stickers to deck out the Apple logo on your laptop, and a cozy, zen-like word processor called Ommwriter, which allows users to really zone in and focus on their writing by incorporating relaxing scenery, a flexible artboard to write on, and typewriter sound effects that make each keystroke feel thoughtful.

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The agency’s &Cos branch is a playful experiment where every product that comes out of it needs to begin with the letters co. They’ve created cool gifs to download and share, cosmetics that embrace the idea of aging, cam-covers for your phone and computer, and even cookies. This process has opened the doors to working with new and different partners. For example, they created a series of cookies–misfortune cookies to be precise. This project/experiment had them partner with people outside of the norm, working with amazing chefs and bakers to produce a delightful treat, only to disrupt the creation with devastatingly witty misfortune copy, telling the cookies owner things like “you’ll never get an erection again.” I was enthralled to see these kinds of unique constraints on a portion of the company that is all about innovative product development. It made for better products and hilariously creative solutions.

Takeaway

I found the entire team’s enthusiasm and creative approach refreshing, and there seemed to be a higher level of provocativeness than at most of the other agencies I visited and throughout the creative community as a whole. At Herraiz Soto & Co., there is an unabashed confidence in the way they approach design and how they come to their solutions. Prudes beware.