Residency Dispatch: Visiting a Strategic Narrative Design Agency
Editor’s Note: This is Block Club designer Tim Staszak’s ‘s second 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 first dispatch here.
A big part of the Block Club Residency Program is making connections with other creatives in your host city. So, in preparation for my visit, I began reaching out to the creative community here in Barcelona over a month ago. I sent emails to more than a dozen different agencies’ info@ inboxes thinking that as soon as I clicked “send” my message would be lost into a digital black hole. To my surprise, I received several responses and invitations to visit once I arrived.
Last week Thursday, on a very damp morning, I ventured out on my rented bicycle to meet with one of the contacts I made: Emmy Koski, communication director and art curator of brands at Folch Studio in Barcelona’s Sant Martí district.
Visiting the Studio
At Folch, the elevator opens up to a long table of designers plugged into their work. The entire studio is on the third floor in one big industrial space shared by different parts of the agency. Emmy brought me to a round wooden table in the back, and we began to talk about what I was hoping to get out of my time in Barcelona and more about Folch Studios and the creative it produces.
The open space of the office is organized by team. Folch is a one-stop shop that produces several different publications and specializes in branding, strategy, creative and art direction, video production, editing, content, activation, social media, PR, and interiors. And it looks like no one who works there, besides maybe the partners, is over the age of 30.
Much like Block Club used to publish a literary magazine, Folch produces a small, bi-annual hardcover publication called Odiseo that Emmy and I chatted at length about. The publication is used to illustrate Folch’s stated mission: “the exploration of new ways of doing and seeing, offering a different vision on erotism, going beyond gender, seeking seduction through bodies and abstraction.” The publication also acts as a self-promotion piece and design exercise, which helps to drive business.
Folch incorporates the seductive design sensibility and strategic partnerships cultivated through Odiseo into its client work. The agency partners with artists, designers, florists, and even chefs to help achieve the desired creative concept, hiding a client’s product in a way that doesn’t feel like an ad and promoting the product through the unexpected collaborative channels created while pushing the brand. The uniqueness of these partnerships helps cultivate credibility, and the partnerships pay off through the audiences their collaborators shepherd. It also doesn’t hurt to have a PR and activation team in-house.
It was interesting to see such a large, hardcover book being produced by an agency, knowing how expensive it must be to produce. But it seems that Odiseo is an important differentiator that Folch is able to use to its advantage. I was also impressed to see an agency that seemed to have all its bases covered and the capacity to do everything in-house choose to collaborate with so many different outside creatives. To me, that speaks to Folch’s ability to recognize good design and its confidence in its art and creative direction. The work Folch produces reflects this.