Ministry is a design and art direction studio based in Monterrey, Mexico. They produce bold design that functions cross-platform and focuses on product design, printed matter and digital design in close collaboration with people and organizations from around the world. The studio’s culture is firmly rooted in the rich tradition of graphic design and honors it by promoting this discipline into our local context.
Hello, can you start by tell us about the studio and the team behind Ministry?
Ministry is a design studio that works on branding, editorial, print and digital design projects that was founded in October of 2011. The studio’s core team is made up of its three partners André Mooij who is the Creative Director, Adrián García Chereti the Executive Director and José Antonio Domínguez the Art Director, accompanied by our designer Betty Ramones, our seasonal interns and a range of collaborators who work within other disciplines like industrial and interior design and web development.
What was the motivation on starting your studio?
The main motivation behind the founding of the studio was the simple desire of becoming independent, the three of us aren’t really that good at working in other companies, we don’t mean it in like a punk-anarchist way or anything, it’s more of a creative freedom kind of thing, we feel we work better when our core-philosophy is present in our creative process rather than adopting a different methodology one could find in other design studios.
Where do you find inspiration? What influences your work?
While the three of us have things in common, we do differ a bit when it comes to our influences, José is quite inspired by illustrative typography, documentary photography, minimalist grids, progressive rock and jazz, Adrián by video games, alternative music and the feminine aesthetic (however weird that might sound) and André is influenced by political movements, electronic music, dark humor, modernism and Japanese culture. So really, when it comes down to it, it’s a whole pool of influences.
Your projects range from identity and digital, to editorial design, do you seek a specialised approach, or are you looking to keep experimenting and expanding into other areas?
We generally have a lot of projects that don’t really break the norm of what some designers would call “normal”, which are the types of projects you mention above. While we’re not really limited to these disciplines, we don’t really focus on trying to expand into other disciplines like industrial design or whatever you might suggest, we’re more of a “whatever the project needs to succeed” kind of studio. As Massimo Vignelli † once said “If you can design one thing, you can design anything.” Of course, we would like to mention that whenever other types of projects emerge, we don’t try to think that we can do everything ourselves, we rather prefer to approach people who can do a certain thing better than us and collaborate with them.
What does success means to you?
We view success as a status that is in constant change, we know of studios and companies that have a certain metric for success which are things like economic stability or high flow of projects, we like to think we’re sort of in-between these two, we’re not naive so we know that economically-wise we need to reach a certain level of stability to keep doing the things we love, nevertheless we do have certain standards regarding projects we accept and not and sometimes, no matter how much money a client might be offering to pay for a project, if it somehow diminishes the studio’s moral or ethical values, we do not accept it. We would rather focus working with people who can teach us and are open to us teaching them, whenever applicable. All of this can be achieved through nothing but perseverance.
How would you describe your ideal project?
There isn’t really a specific answer to this, part of our studio’s philosophy is firmly rooted in the ability to affect our local community, we believe that design studios are kind of like movements, people enter, people leave, there’s always a general shift of the type of things you do but you never really forget the real reason why you’re doing them, which in our case is to be an enabler of projects that can somehow make the community a better place. Our ideal one would probably be along those lines, from designing a platform that could document the impact of social projects within the city all the way to actually designing objects and processes tailored to specific needs within our community.
Which project is your favorite one?
El Cielo is probably so far our favorite, because it was our first real multi-disciplinary project and because of the research behind the concept and aesthetics, the brief behind it was to create this high-end brand that no matter where it was placed in the world, it could be identified as Mexican. We think we really bridged the gap of how aesthetically it represents a clean and modern style but with small details that show how no matter how modernized it might seem, it still maintains this warm and friendly approach, we feel that generally, Mexican people are like this.
Aside from the graphic and digital design, we helped design a part of the space with a team of Interior and Industrial designers and had a great time doing so. We haven’t released the images just yet because the construction isn’t finished, but hopefully, we’ll be able to show some of the images soon enough.
Can you tell us about your process when dealing with a brief and trying to make it work with the style you have developed?
The first step in our process is to get to know the people behind the project, what their intentions, ideas and goals for the project are and see how we can fit within the whole equation, we interview them to try to define a coherent story and a first version of the brief, all of this happens in person, after this we generally start to re-iterate the brief inside the studio, send it to them along with a Skype call or another meeting, once it is defined, the first research steps are taken, followed by design and production.
Regarding style and such, we generally don’t have that much of an issue ‘selling’ it to them, mainly because we can be very diverse but always maintaining a clean-cut execution, there can be some modifications here and there but they’re usually not very harsh, hah.
To end the interview, tell us about what is next for Ministry?
We’ve recently opened an in-house letterpress and printmaking studio that doubles as a second business, we’ve had a rather difficult time working with local printers mainly because of the sky-high prices they offer. We decided to open this print shop to offer it as kind of a ‘one-stop-shop’ to clients in Ministry so that production isn’t ever out of our hands. Learning the trade has been very interesting, and we’re having a lot of fun doing it. Aside from this, we’re working on some very interesting branding projects right now and looking to expand a little further into research based projects, we’re also looking to start working on an exhibition for our third birthday in October.