M ason Wells is a graphic designer and co-owner of the innovative design agency Bibliothèque in London, which has been working out creative projects with and for Allude for many years. The specialties of the team around the experienced visual thinker, brand strategist and lecturer include concepts that attract attention in an imaginative way and yet remain true to the famous British understatement. Like Allude's new Cashmere Clinic, which was realized in collaboration with Bibliothèque Design .
Other clients for the agency, which has offices in trendy Shoreditch, have included Adidas, the Architectural Digest Awards, Nike and Virgin Atlantic Airways. The first issue of the watch magazine The Hour , developed by Mason Wells and his partners Timothy Beard and Jonathon Jeffrey, was also recently published.
In the interview, the graphic designer talks about long nights at his desk, good coffee and the influence of design veteran Dieter Rams.
What are your responsibilities at Bibliothèque Design?
I founded our studio around ten years ago with my partners Timothy Beard and Jonathon Jeffrey. I'm a designer and art director in our team of ten, which sticks together like a family.
Offering an open, pleasant working environment is at least as important to us as following certain basic principles in our design language. Each colleague contributes their own individual talents, so that it rarely gets boring.
A few examples of the breadth of our client projects: we've just done a window display for Black Eyewear at Selfridges, we're working on the brand face of a new gym, we're designing an architect's website, and we're launching The Hour magazine at Baselworld 2015 watch show " before. Oh yeah, and we're also working for a men's tailor from Savile Row right now.
What does an average day in your life look like?
I commute to work in the mornings from Blackheath, which is an area of south London near Greenwich. When I arrive at our studio in Shoreditch at 9am I'm definitely holding a steaming mug of coffee which I bought along the way from one of the wonderful coffee shops around the corner. Then we all sit around our huge conference table and discuss current projects and new ideas that we want to pursue. We're mighty proud of our design team, and our creative hierarchy is extremely flat. Nobody "owns" anything, so equal discussion in the team is a core idea of our company philosophy.
We often go to lunch together. It's not obligatory, but somehow you prefer to eat in company, don't you? But with Shoreditch's many fantastic delis and bistros, it's hard to choose. At dinner we chat about news headlines, about our families, concerts or whatever else is on everyone's mind.
The afternoon is again dedicated to the respective design tasks, always driven by coffee. And if we are on schedule, we try to finish work around 6 p.m. However, some projects, such as our new watch magazine, are so time-consuming and complex that we have to work a lot of night shifts.
Tell us about your varied work for Allude and the principles on which it is based.
We are extremely proud of our collaboration with Allude, which has now lasted six years. We share the goal of a durable, elegant brand that also has a deliberate simplicity at its core. Back when we were developing the new logo, we met with Andrea Karg and her team several times in our London studio.
The brand has such a successful history built on straightforward principles that we all consciously chose typography to match its visual signature. And for a design with a “Founded 1993” note that highlights the many milestones achieved.
The logo of the new Cashmere Clinic, on the other hand, combines the traditional look of a pharmacy sign with an abstract woven pattern. The message is precise and elegant at the same time: "You can entrust us with your beloved cashmere fashion". Incidentally, we really enjoyed the project and I'm looking forward to visiting the clinic in Munich soon.
And finally, I absolutely have to talk about the spectacular high-tech installation in the Kronprinzenpalais that was on display as part of the Berlin Mode Salon. It showed the Allude Pre-Fall Collection 2015 on 24 connected HD screens, models ran towards the visitors from every corner of the room and the unique cashmere material could be admired in high-resolution close-ups.
Is it easier or harder to work with a founder like Andrea Karg, who is also creative director and also thinks very visually?
Definitely easier. She shares our love for good design that always impresses and the highest quality. So we share one of our most important goals. For us, the big challenge when working with a fashion brand is to discover special colours, patterns or material details in each collection that are suitable for the leitmotif, for example when designing the look book. Fortunately, each of Andrea Karg's collections offers such visual surprises en masse that we can use for our purposes.
What do you think are the design trends that are hot right now, and who do you get inspiration from?
We try very hard not to think of design as a style, although of course logos, things and concepts should look contemporary. One institution we greatly admire is the ECAL design school in Switzerland, which is developing amazingly unorthodox approaches to 2D and 3D design. We are good friends with some of the professors there and sometimes we do workshops together.
When and how did you realize that you wanted to be a designer? Was there an aha moment?
As a child, I wasn't particularly good at school or sports - but I always got top marks in art classes. Those hours were like a sanctuary for me and other creative misfits. Our teacher was immensely inspirational and it was he who pushed me to go to art school. I did my undergraduate studies at a rather average institution, during which I also met Bibliothèque co-founder Jonathon Jeffrey. It was not until I completed my main studies at the world-renowned and very challenging St. Martin's School of Art (as it was called at the time) that I was given the opportunity to work in well-known London design studios before we founded Bibliothèque.
The most important influences for my work come from Europe in the middle of the 20th century, especially from Germany and Switzerland in the sixties. Someone like Dieter Rams, whose work is legendary for Braun and others, was so ahead of his time that even Jonathan Ive at Apple is inspired by him. We were very fortunate to be able to meet the old master at the opening of a retrospective that we helped organize at the Design Museum in London.
The coolest song on your iPod?
I enjoy music from a ton of different genres, but right now I really enjoy listening to Canadian electro artist Caribou. An office favorite of the team and like me is British DJ Gilles Peterson, he just seems to cater to different tastes at the same time.
Your first cashmere garment was...?
A crew neck sweater by John Smedley.
What is your current must-have in your closet?
A navy blue knit jumper from the upcoming Allude men's collection (a first example below, photographed on the model). I was allowed to try them on beforehand... Andrea Karg and her team designed very modern cuts for us men, yeah!
Do you have a personal style role model?
Steve McQueen. The outfits, the watches, the hair, the glasses, the shoes, the cars... need I say more?!
What talent would you like to possess?
I love architecture and men's fashion equally.
Your absolute favorite book?
"1984" by George Orwell.
Which film and/or which TV series offers you perfect entertainment?
Movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, or any other work by Stanley Kubrick. In his case, the word genius is definitely appropriate, I think! My favorite series is “Breaking Bad” because it is so idiosyncratic and therefore unique.
Photos: Abisag Tüllmann/VitsÅ“ (Dieter Rams), John Smedley, Look Mum No Hands!, PR