Book for Sandwich Fall/Winter 2012, 2013
Branding and Collaterals for Amsterdam Museum, 2013
Today we speak to Yew Kee, founder, creative director and designer of Matte, a brand communications boutique based in Netherlands.
Yanda: Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Yew Kee: My name is Yew Kee and I’m a Singaporean based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I run a small and intimate design boutique in the city center specializing in retail and brand communication.
What do you do first when you get up in the morning?
Turn on the radio/Youtube and check my e-mails.
What daily routines you cannot do without?
Going on Youtube and blending vegetable and fruit shakes in the morning.
For readers that might be unfamiliar with your design, how would you describe it?
Intuitive, concise, communicative, relevant and crafted with a touch of willfulness
What are you having the most fun at right now?
Looking at people running in the rain
Why did you choose design as your profession?
I didn’t choose design. Design chose me. I know I’m a designer since I was maybe 10. I was creating silly newsletters in primary school for my classmates. I didn’t know I was already a writer, editor, designer and publisher. Something told me I’m gonna be a designer and I know exactly where I should study after finishing my national service. I am very grateful for that ‘something’. Maybe it’s called ‘intuition’. I followed that till today.
When did you actually left off to Amsterdam? Was it tough setting up your own shop there not knowing much people and resources?
I left for the the Netherlands in April 2001 to the Hague for a full time job at 2D3D. I officially started my own shop after leaving the company and freelanced around in Amsterdam for a few years. I owe it to many good people for giving me very precious opportunities and the ABN-Amro bank for providing me a loan to start my own dream factory. The toughest part was to convince the Dutch government to accept me in the country as an entrepreneur. I’m grateful for the many recommendation letters from all my clients especially from the Theo Thijssen Museum and my immigration lawyer for all the help and support.
What has been your best design experience so far?
Working on “Nieuwe Wonderland” with my friend Meike Ziegler on her dream project to create a pilot social interactive cafe with lots of creative, artistic and surreal impulses.
We worked with the most amazing and creative people making a great experience out of a tight self-funded budget and the result was unbelievable.
My personal self expressive work in the project was about memories. I had a quote from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ stenciled in baby powder on the carpet at the location. The quote disintegrated as the visitors walked over it. I think everything fades in time. Nothing remains in the end even for memories. I also had many scents I collected in a room filled with coffee beans on the floor. Scents evokes different memories for different people. I wanted to create very different responses from people who used them.
Check out the site and tell me what you think.
That’s nice. I used to have a project whereby we have to stain the backdrop of a canvas for a photoshoot ourselves. We had a lot of fun experiencing coffee spa in the end cause we have to stain it using our hands and feet with warm coffee. Don’t you enjoy or prefer working off from a computer instead sometimes?
I work a lot off the computer too. Working in the retail and lifestyle industry means that I am always on the lookout for interesting trend signals, locations, packaging, scents and experiences. We can easily work and communicate anywhere on any device through the cloud but the future is also very analogue. I think the sense of smell, taste and touch has yet to be fully explored. Also, we still appreciate a real handshake, kiss or hug offline.
Which is your favorite piece of work you have done?
Not being politically correct: I have no favorite piece of work as they are all very special to me whether it’s big or small.
Any most memorable one then? Doesn’t have to be the work. It could be behind-the-scenes, meetings or the screw ups.
It must be winning the pitch for the brand identity for Amsterdam Museum. We were the ‘wild card’ in the pitch and we are responsible for the logo, visual communication strategy and materials. The other agencies chosen were some of my dutch design heroes who are veterans in the cultural design sector. We were chosen for our retail and lifestyle background instead. Being able to contribute back to the Dutch society which has been very kind to me in this way is still very surreal for me.
You must have been thrilled and honoured cause museum seems to be one of everyone’s dream job to work on with. Any others genre you would love to work for?
Yes, it’s an honour to create an identity of a museum. At the moment, I would very much like to work with high fashion houses such as Prada, Comme des Garçons, Dries van Noten and Hussein Chalayan. It’ll be a dream come true to work with them on their event communication, catwalk experience, perfume packaging and promotions.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Mainly from talking to people. Hearing their stories and accents… Finding out about their cultures, daily rituals and passions fascinates and inspires me a lot. Also, staring at blue skies helps…
What influences contribute to your work?
Mainly my clients’ input. The more they can articulate their marketing and communication message clearly the more obvious the solution becomes. We can then able to creatively express them visually or experientially.
Do you think your own cultural academic education is important?
Yes. It gave me a firm foundation and own cultural point of view to judge design or an expression.
How do you keep educating yourself then?
By ‘uneducating’ myself. Having more industry experience can be a hazard as I have tried many things and know what will very likely work or not. Working with less experienced designers challenges me to see every project in a less ‘formulaic’ way.
How do you set your benchmarks?
My benchmark for a good communication project has to be end-user effectiveness, client satisfaction, the ‘magical’ expression of the message and personal creative fulfillment. I set them up by listening closely to my clients communication objectives and my company’s mission to be honest, contemporary, creative and relevant.
How do you think it is to your work or dealing with people in a place outside your birth country.
It’s a great experience so far. I had a very open mind when dealing with people outside my own culture. Being respectful and sharing cultural differences is always a good way to break the ice.
Do you think personal work is important?
I think it’s good for exploring new expressions. I’m not sure if it is important.
To celebrate reaching the grand age of 60, Fred Perry has teamed up with Dover Street Market to present a special collection of one-off shirts. The British brand charged sixty of its most valued patrons and cohorts with reimagining the original 1952 Fred Perry shirt. This results in a collection that is as eclectic as its creative collaborators, which include photographic power duo Inez and Vinoodh, painter Horace Panter, graphic designer Neville Brody and locals Asylum, Phunk Studio and JUICE.
The first 25 customisations are currently on display in an installation specially conceived by set designer Andy Hillman. London is the first leg of the collection’s international tour, which will see it pitch up at Dover Street Market’s outpost in Tokyo and the IT Beijing Market, before being auctioned off to raise money for the Amy Winehouse Foundation. In addition to the bespoke polos, British designers Simone Rocha, Giles, Christopher Raeburn and JW Anderson all had their hand in a limited edition run of shirts that will be available for purchase in store.