The Henry van de Velde Young Talent Award is the culmination of their in-your-face uniqueness and of their impressive journey so far. The award was last won by a graphic designer in 2011. Bureau BoschBerg takes over the baton from Sara De Bondt. “At first, Sang and I couldn’t believe we had won the award. I remember asking if this was some kind of preselection, a nomination.”
Although Sang and Laura had lived together as a couple for years, their professional worlds remained separate until 2018. The beginning of an intense collaboration in the form of Bureau BoschBerg was an exciting but logical step. “During projects on which we hadn’t worked together yet, we asked each other’s opinions in the process. Although we were advised not to work together as a couple, we felt it was a shame not to. Working together frequently enhanced the results,” they reveal via Zoom, during this COVID-19 period. Bureau BoschBerg is currently working in complete symbiosis, and engages in a permanent dialogue. “In the beginning things certainly didn’t go smoothly, we had to get used to it. But now it’s really enjoyable. We can be very honest and just get straight to the point. It works very quickly.”
Bureau BoschBerg stands stronger together, not only artistically, they also see a lot of advantages in business terms. “Many organisations are afraid to work with just one person. They are quick to assume that one person can’t handle their assignment. They have more confidence in a larger agency that employs multiple people. Often, there is still the idea that a single designer can never devise an entire brand identity. You stand much stronger together to the outside world, although our work has not really changed substantively. We already looked at each other’s work, or worked informally on projects together.
Not a style, just uniqueness
Bureau BoschBerg is not limited to one particular graphic style due to the teamwork. No self-imposed Swiss modernism, no invariably refined page layout, no dogmatic minimalism in the fonts. It involves a total focus on the wishes of the client, and the development of a custom visual language per project, which makes their way of working unique. “Some designers have their style and apply it in different contexts. But we produce communication for the user. We examine what works for each assignment. Our strength is that we develop a long-term relationship with the client, and not just produce a logo and then disappear.”
Bureau BoschBerg itself takes a step back. The creation is no more dominant than the application. The product comes more to the fore, as does a brand’s identity. This happens independently of the creators. “We prefer not to position ourselves in the foreground. You won’t find a portrait of us on our website. For us, the result is more important than a so-called signature. Being allowed to constantly do something different, and not having to hang on to one and the same style you’re asked to do, is actually great for a designer.”
And yet Sang and Laura’s work is very recognisable. Its distinctiveness is found in a new kind of originality, refreshingly different from similar young initiatives. Their designs produce a flash of recognition, a mental exclamation point, and a striking click. Even an untrained eye is captured at a glance by the quality of the graphic choices.
What’s more, the duo form a genuinely complementary team. Sang describes himself as an extremely orderly person, noticeably structured and organised. Laura prefers to work off-the-grid. While Sang establishes the structures, comes up with the rules and determines the number of letters, Laura adopts a looser approach and adds a touch of playfulness. It is precisely this collaboration that makes the designs of Bureau BoschBerg both logical and appealing. The combination of both characters ensures a very direct and open recognition, which is nevertheless surprising.
Sang and Laura describe their work as colourful, urban and simple. “Our search never strays too far, and we keep it simple. For example, with Boze Wolf we imposed a restriction on ourselves with regard to the graphic language. At STAM Ghent, too, the logo is based on the original logo designed by Dooreman. This allowed us to build on the recognition that already existed.” Many people also describe the work as playful, including Sang himself. But Laura adds a nuance: “the playfulness is not a deliberate choice. If we take on a serious assignment, we won’t come up with crazy themes, but perhaps with colour and illustrations.
Although the name Bureau BoschBerg may not in itself ring a bell with the general public, their campaigns for large cultural houses are embedded in the Flemings’ collective memory. Their images have been used for national promotional campaigns and seasonal brochures, and are ideal for boards in the urban streetscape. Due to the resulting weeks of visibility on every metropolitan street corner, and clients with big names with whom they have worked for a long time, Laura and Sang have indeed been able to embark on an impressive journey.
In terms of professionalism, growth, originality and feel, Bureau BoschBerg’s approach is highly commendable. Every major client is enthusiastic about the material they deliver. The agency’s growth path can also count on praise, besides demonstrating an understanding of the zeitgeist in a refreshing fashion. However, the young duo remains sober: “Once you start designing things, and produce a brand identity for a particular client, it results in assignments. Or, for example, MA Festival: the organisers contacted us after seeing our campaign for Opera Ballet Vlaanderen at the Henry van de Velde Awards last year. We don’t really stop to really think about it, but that’s how it goes. Work creates work.
Sang started his career as a permanent designer at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, while shortly after graduating, Laura worked closely with the in-house designer of deSingel on the rebranding project. The boost this has given to their network, experience and visibility is not to be underestimated: “We both rocked up somewhere at a young age, and have continued to work from there. Now we’re doing the jobs many young people can only dream of. We can do exactly what we love doing. Perhaps that’s why we stand out from the others: we are young, but have already worked on lots of high-quality projects. Therefore, we must certainly thank our clients. Because at the end of the day, it’s because we get so much freedom and trust that we can produce those designs. This award is also thanks to them.
In the future, they’d like to spread their wings. Not so much in growing their agency - “we enjoy the contact with the client too much” - but in the diversity of assignments, perhaps across other regional or language borders. “We are very happy to continue to work on assignments for the cultural sector, but variation is of course welcome. If you look out the window here, you see the Zoo. They can call on us anytime. But we are also eager to collaborate on larger assignments, as a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk, with, for example, interior designers, fashion designers, architects, in short designers from other disciplines.”
Laura and Sang don’t want to grow too fast. “Bureau BoschBerg’s curve is not too steep at the moment. That wasn’t and still isn’t our ambition. We work from one assignment to the next, and thus continue step by step along the path we have chosen. We don’t experience and don’t strive for great peaks, because then you also get major lows.” The agency is growing steadily, organically even, based on passion, a lot of passion. And Laura and Sang hope that their passion for this profession will only increase. “It doesn’t feel like a job. We don’t count down to the weekend. It’s just the way we do things.”