IIII+I with Lars Harmsen

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Last Friday we met with Lars Harmsen, type designer, creative director and editor of Slanted magazine who passed by Base New York. Lars lives and works in Munich as partner and creative director at MELVILLE Brand Design, a studio he co-founded 2008.

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At Melville brands, Lars was heading the team who worked on the ADIDAS book, a huge undertaking that spanned over several years leading to a 600+ page facsimile. “Adidas The Story As Told By Those Who Have Lived And Are Living It” is a mammoth task that entailed archiving Adidas’ history for the first time ever. For Lars, one needs to understand the brand’s history in order to develop its future. Adidas started making shoes by looking at the specific needs of the athletes’ feet. It is only later that the fashion industry adopted athletic footwear as fashion statement. The book eventually took the design team on a trip to interview the sport greatest celebrities including Stefanie Graf, Zinedine Zidane, Yohji Yamamoto and Stella McCartney. For the cover, Lars finally settled on a simple black and white cover that focuses on the three iconic Adidas stripes.

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Lars’ interests in design and typography began with the launch of Volcano-Type in 1996, as an outlet for his own fonts and other designers to showcase their work. As a platform to promote Volcano-Type and push the design-discourse, he created SLANTED weblog in 2004. Since then, the passion for paper, books and magazines have pushed the blog-turned-magazine to 25 issues.

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In the age of targeted Facebook ads and promoted Instagram posts Lars sees great value creating meaningful content. The roles of agencies are shifting towards shaping content and helping clients tell their stories not only through design but through creating substantial subject matter as well. Agencies with in-house communication teams are answering the need to craft smart contexts where brands can culturally resonate and connect with their audiences. The story itself, however, needs to come from the clients themselves.

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