The Secret of the Success of Stoëmp Design - 11 June 2015
Gaetano Licata and Wojciech Szlachta took 2010 by storm by setting up their design studio Stoëmp. It has taken them less than five years to make the leap from a dark cellar to light-bathed offices on the prestigious Avenue Louise. However, the success clearly hasn’t gone to their head: “An office is just an office and it wasn’t more expensive than another. What we wanted above all was a central location to make things easier for our clients.”
What is Stoëmp?
Gaetano: A design studio mainly active in visual identity: clients come to us to ask us to change their current image or recreate one from scratch.
And what is it about you that appeals to them?
Gaetano: Probably our rather minimalist style. We get to the heart of the matter without getting too carried away. But there is a lot of discussion with our clients. We want to know exactly what they want, how they see things. We’re not here just to churn out a pleasant–looking standard design, to do “graphics for the sake of graphics”. It is important to identify their targets, their expectations, and their needs. At the end of the day we’re not artists, this is a service business.
How did you get started?
Gaetano: We had already talked about setting up our own company when we were studying together. We graduated from St Luc Brussels in 2007 and Wojciech’s brother, also a graphic designer, gave us some space in his offices. Well, to be honest, in a cellar.
Wojciech Szlachta: From the outset, we put all our energy into each project. And we quickly generated a buzz as word got around. We never had to do any prospection. For us, the human touch is very important. Offering three projects on a “take it or leave it” basis and dumping the client if it doesn’t suit him isn’t our style. We want to sit down with them, discuss and come up with solutions.
Why the name "Stoëmp"?
Gaetano: Well we were already fans of the dish of the same name. And it was a somewhat offbeat way of saying that we are a hotchpotch of Italian and Polish but fully integrated in the Brussels culture. And it also represents the “fusion” aspect of our working method.
Wojciech: I think it’s true to say however that we are more Belgian than anything else, we’ve spent most of our life here.
Do you have a specialty, what’s the best thing about your work?
Wojciech: Our very diverse clientele, we have clients in Brussels but also in Paris and New York, each project is different.
Gaetano: And therefore the sheer breadth of our core business. We can work for a vineyard, a band, a zoo or a law firm, deal with packaging or the artistic direction of shootings; our field of action aims to be as broad as possible. But we prefer global projects, we don’t just design a one-shot poster or a business card.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
WS: When clients suggest deadlines that are way too short.
GL: Sometimes people who come to us think that they’re in a fast food restaurant, they think we can jot down a drawing for them in three seconds or deliver a complete project in a month.
W. S. We refuse that from the word go. Realistic deadlines are set that allow us to work properly, that is to say, to be able to let the project grow and evolve. Otherwise, the branding can’t be successful. You can’t make a logo in a week, it’s impossible: just in terms of the legal aspects and the disclaimers, even that takes time. A name change is complicated: people fear losing their customers, but this is never the case when the rebranding has been well thought out. We have taken on some real challenges, such as the redesign of the entire identity of the Paradisio Park, which became Pairi Daiza, and all the feedback we got was positive.