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The Stone Twins head communication department at Design Academy Eindhoven

Design Academy Eindhoven has two new heads of department for 'Man and Communication': The Stone Twins, aka Declan and Garech Stone. Their advice to students: "Become like magpies".

By Jeanne Tan /asdf 29-01-2009

The Stone Twins (Declan and Garech Stone) have been appointed as the head of the department of 'Man and Communication' at the Design Academy Eindhoven. The duo fill the role that was previously held by Anton Beeke.

According to Garech Stone, "The academy must cement its position as a leading centre for producing highly conceptual, yet eminently practical, ideas. The challenge for the students is also in creating a dialogue with the real world."

Declan Stone says, "As the media-landscape is in a state of flux, trades like advertising and graphic-design are facing new challenges. The academy is perfectly equipped for this." They add, "We also want to make the word 'WOW!' synonymous with the Design Academy Eindhoven."

We catch up with the design duo to talk about their new roles.

"As the media-landscape is in a state of flux, trades like advertising and graphic-design are facing new challenges." What do you think are some of these new challenges?
Companies and their brands need to have more streamlined and integrated communication strategies. A design studio working solely on a corporate identity and an advertising agency commissioned purely on advertising is 'old-school'. The barriers between these creative fields has to break down - resulting in consistent brand messaging and a more holistic experience for consumers. A good example of this is 'Apple' - everything in the journey from the product to the packaging, retail to the communication is seamless...

At the same time, traditional advertising mediums like print and TV are haemorrhaging... so the new challenges for advertising are in areas that designers are more fluent with, e.g. retail environments, events, web, mobile phones and product-design. Nowadays, no-one is waiting for a new 'epic' Levi's or Nike spot/commercial...especially as teens are more interested in creating their own content from their bedrooms and uploading it to a potential audience of millions.

What are the strengths of the Design Academy course?
Students are encouraged to think freely - and without the constraint of a pre-determined media or format. Our department is titled 'Man and Communication' - and not 'graphic-design'. So, if a student wishes to communicate an idea - why settle for a poster? The media could be a chair, a film or a board-game.

What are you really looking forward to doing there when you start your new positions?
Both of us are looking forward to the inspiration and the openness of the students. As the role of the head of the department is not a teaching role, we are responsible for outlining a strategy and inspiring the students (and teachers) ... basically pulling the strings of the department. Cheerleaders with suits and sneakers.

When was the studio established? You're originally from Ireland, is that correct?
1999 - so we are 10 years together as a commercial entity. Originally - yes, we're from Dublin. Breast-fed Guinness as babies.

Describe your work. What are you known best for?

Our book 'Logo R.I.P. - A Commemoration of Dead Logotypes' which we both wrote + designed - was perhaps the first piece of work that gained us recognition, both from the design and the mainstream press. According to a review in EYE magazine, "Logo R.I.P. works both as a critique of corporate culture and design's complicity in it and a celebration of some of the past century's most resonant graphic symbols... It may be clever enough to appeal to anti-corporate activist and corporate climber alike."

Last year, we won a Dutch Design Award for the 'SoundCircus' Corporate Identity: a project that perfectly illustrates what we do best, which is devising witty and engaging creative solutions. Some firms tag this approach 'dynamic' corporate identity: where a brand's form is paradoxically different - yet the same - in every application. To us, successful visual identities act like people - they can have different moods and clothes but must ultimately possess the same personality. It's about a rejection of blandness, formality and dependence on an abstraction like a 'grid'.

Finally, what advice do you have for communication design students?
Become like magpies - grab, borrow and, even, steal all forms of inspiration from exhibitions, books, tacky-snackbars and family. The best ideas come from engaging in the real-world.

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