Duration: Five years.
Location: Quito, Ecuador.
Key creatives: Made García, producer; Paulina Jarrín, project manager; and Marcelo Calderón, founder and creative director. Before Pánico, García worked for four years as a producer and Calderón worked for twelve years as an art director.
Career path: Calderón, who founded this studio, studied advertising at the Universidad de las Américas in Quito, Ecuador, but found that working in agencies was not what he was looking for. He noted that Ecuador’s design field was small and difficult to enter. After working in advertising for a few years, he decided to take a chance and open Pánico with two partners who have since left the studio. Gradually, Pánico has become stronger; this strength currently supports our design philosophy that can be summarized as simple, direct and powerful.
We mostly do branding projects for commercial, cultural and independent clients who are interested in direct communication and believe in the power of simplicity. It is essential to have a clear idea of what to communicate in order to keep the brand’s global image on the same path. We like to have a close relationship with our clients so that we can meet the people behind each project, understand their personal motivations and reflect their values within their brands.
Our goal for each project is to have all the elements that make up the brand language in tune with each other. We always seek to show the truth without frills and believe that our bond with consumers becomes stronger when we avoid an oversaturation of information. It is always more difficult to choose what to remove instead of what to add because it forces us to be concrete, which requires security—a concept that is core to our work.
Cultural influences: We admire Brutalist trends with its well-defined geometry and imposing typography. We like when our work is simple and raw, but also based on a well-defined and methodical system. On the other hand, we like to experiment with chaos. For that reason, the stridency often present in Asian design is inspirational to us. We also cannot ignore Modernist influences; its elegance, delicate forms and ornate typefaces are a resource we frequently look at.
Music has also been a great inspiration. We love to work and communicate with music artists because it enables us to create more experimental designs and rely on resources that we do not always use. The artists’ visions are more subjective than commercial brands, so it will always be a great design challenge to capture its essence.
Favorite projects: The identity project for Holke79, a design and animation studio located in Madrid, because we were able to experiment with styles that we liked. After seeing the proposal, our client defined it as “punk meets Bauhaus.” We loved this phrase because it summed up how we showcased the client through the mix of trends that represented Spain. Although the identity was disruptive, it did not lose its cleanliness and order.
Work environment: Music makes up a large part of our work environment, and the music we play varies according to the project we are focused on. We love listening to a wide range of genres, ranging from classical music to hardcore punk to lots of electronica. We are also like a family, so our children are part of our office. In fact, they are often the main critics of our work, and more than once, their advice has been applied to the final designs.
In Ecuador, companies are usually very formal and square, which is why people are surprised when we are open with them. We try to make our meetings feel more like coffee outings with friends. We also try to make our environment feel relaxing with lots of light and space to make ourselves and our clients feel comfortable. Not committed to a hierarchical structure, our company is managed in an informal way that doesn’t affect the quality and commitment to our work. Each of the members, interns and contributors try to solve problems together, which enriches everyone’s confidence and knowledge.
Approach: We believe that the problem with creative works is that they are carried out intuitively, so proposals are made without having a clear understanding of what the client wants. So, we pay attention to what the client wants from the beginning. Sometimes, we feel like psychologists who seek to create an ideal environment in which clients will feel free to open up and express themselves in an authentic way. When we are clear on what the clients’ interests are, we develop and review mood boards several times until we reach an agreement. After that, we start our proposal. This process may take a little more time, but it helps us not have “round trips” with presentations, which consumes more time and energy for both clients and ourselves.
Aspirations: We would love to open borders with our design proposals and have clients around the world who share our vision and principles, which are not only framed in design but also in our approach to life and structures in general.
Philosophy: “Simple, direct and powerful.” We use this philosophy not only as the way we view communication and design, but also as a concept applicable to our lives. Accumulation is a problem in our society and reflects many of our insecurities. We can see pollution wherever we look, and that is because we try to say and own more than necessary.
Anything else? This is a message for those who are in countries or places that have many limitations: The world is changing. The rules of the game are changing. Geographical borders are only in our minds. As long as we show authentic work, social media will open up the world to see it. By doing the right job, you are going to reach the right clients, no matter where they are.