Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ivona Radić
The curious mind of one of the youngest partners of the prestigious design studio Pentagram in New York has enabled her to create projects which combine different genres and disciplines. Natasha Jen believes that design has the ability to infiltrate any medium if we are willing to go beyond, to the unknown. It is crucial to see every project as an opportunity to explore our own fears and our creativity as well as to reach the maximum of our courage.
This approach will be exemplified with some of the most impressive projects of the Pentagram studio, as part of the lecture that Natasha will give during the festival Days of Communication in Rovinj. As an introduction to the lecture, we decided to find out how she developed this playful, daring and exploratory approach and how she continues to encourage the multidisciplinary appetite for her team and the projects they develop. Given the prevailing influence of digital in her work and in the industry in general, we also picked her brain about the possible side effects of our increasing online presence.
Media Marketing: In 2012 you became one the youngest partner of Pentagram, one of the most prestigious design studios in the world. Can you describe your professional track up to that point, especially in terms of the crucial events that led you to where you are today?
Natasha Jen: Being invited to join this extraordinary group was an incredible honor, but also quite a surreal experience. In the history of Pentagram I am not the youngest partner joined, but I was relatively inexperienced in terms of running a business. Between 2002 and 2010, I worked at 4 companies in New York. The companies range from in-house design department at a global music label, to graphic design studios, to a strategy / innovation company. Looking back, each place taught me something lasting and influenced how I understand design and what I want (or don’t want) in some fundamental way. In 2010 I opened up my own studio “NJENWORKS”, working on a range of small projects, mostly tied to the architecture discipline. Around the same time – a few months after I opened my studio – I was invited by my friend and a Pentagram partner Eddie Opara to give a talk at Pentagram’s New York office. I gave the talk, and the rest is history.
Media Marketing: You are known for mixing media genres, especially digital media and architecture. Where does that approach stem from? In terms of the scope of knowledge it takes to integrate different disciplines, do you believe that the education of a professional in the industry has to be multidisciplinary in nature?
Natasha Jen: I have a wandering and curious mind. I’m the happiest when I learn something I’d never imagined while solving a problem or creating something new at the same time. This trait tends to lead me into new areas with a good appetite, be spatial, digital, verbal, etc. I have to admit that there’s anxiety that comes with being or feeing amateurish, but that anxiety goes away if you collaborate with talents from different disciplines and I’m lucky to have some of the best talents in different areas to collaborate with. I see education, broadly speaking, as a playground to inspire and cultivate genuine interest in something. I admire a specialist as much as I admire a generalist, but having that genuine passion and being able to play are the drivers of originality and continual pursuit. At Pentagram, I try to create this playground condition for my team. Sometimes when I look at the fabric of our projects, I’d gasp (with pride) because it is so rich and expansive in the challenges we are trying to solve despite some of them don’t make business sense for us. But the idea here is to give creativity autonomy by all means.
Media Marketing: Can you tell us more about some of the project you are most proud of?
Natasha Jen: I can always find something that I wish we could’ve done differently yet I’m proud of all the outcomes in terms how they may have inspired people, improved the perception about a brand, and enabled an organization to do better.
Media Marketing: How big is the team you directly supervise in the studio? According to you, what is the best approach to shaping young minds into established professionals?
Natasha Jen: My team now ranges from 10 – 16 staff. When I first joined Pentagram I had 3 staff on my team, so the growth has been steady. Senior staff helps a lot. My team is young: I’m 40 and I’m the oldest on my team! I think one of the biggest mysteries to entry-level designers is that design is a people business. People have fears, doubts, moods, wants, and if you can figure out how to navigate people, you’ve done half of the work.
Media Marketing: Given the prevailing influence of online, are there any disadvantages of the great rise of the digital world?
Natasha Jen: Digital allows us to expand and to go new places but there’s another side to our postmodern condition that sociologists have been stressing more and more: the anxiety caused by rootlessness; people often feel stressed out and depressed because life has become so changeable and uncertain. Nothing is reliable and everyone seeks for a sense of solid belonging.
Media Marketing: What can visitors expect from your lecture at Days of Communication?
Natasha Jen: Be inspired.