Design Couples: Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio

Posted inDesigner Interviews
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By: Caitlin Dover | June 7, 2010

When, where, and how did you first meet?

We first met in 1997 (when we were both in college, studying graphic design) at a nightclub in Mexico City, where we are from. We had mutual friends and were introduced. We stayed up all night talking until sunrise. Seriously.

Where do you work and live now?

We both work and live together at UnderConsideration headquarters, a 2,000-square-foot campus that houses our office, kitchen, bookcase, bedroom, and two daughters.

How did your relationship initially affect your design careers?

Since we are both graphic designers it simply allowed us to focus on this profession with more determination and ambition, especially when we decided in 2007 to quit our respective jobs and devote our time and energy to our clients and ventures.

How much, and what kind, of work do you do together?

We do everything together, pretty much. Since Bryony is a half-time mom, taking care of our daughters, in the afternoon, Armin becomes the consistent, day-to-day face and voice of the operation. All projects that go out the door have to be approved by both of us and we discuss every decision together. For the blogs, we have found a nice split where Bryony does most of the entries on FPO, and Armin does all the entries on Brand New and Quipsologies.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve done or created together?

The corny answer is our family and home. We are very proud that we’ve been able to build a sustainable, profitable practice, and that we are able to spend so much time with our daughters at home, without spending time commuting. The more professional answer is definitely our 400-page book, Graphic Design, Referenced, which took over our lives for the better part of a year and a half. Our dynamic was integral to making sure we finished it.

How do you each feel your partner influences your design practice?

Bryony: More than an influence I would describe our dynamic as a partnership. One where we can be completely honest with each other while voicing our opinions on each other’s work, a partnership that allows us to push and challenge each other in ways that traditional colleagues can rarely accomplish. There are no hurt feelings, no bruised egos, no broken shells in the process of a project—just the search for the best possible outcome based on each of our strengths.

Armin: What I love about Bryony is that I come up with very stupid or money-losing ideas and she never hesitates to say, “That’s a terrible idea.” And it’s always nice to know that you can try different things and have someone that is looking out for you, because you have the same interests and goals in mind.

How are your working lives and home lives integrated?

Everything happens in the same place. Life and work. We live in a sunny three-bedroom house and what was supposed to be the master bedroom became the office. We took a smaller room and the other is for the young ones. We spend a lot of time in here but, surprisingly, we don’t get cabin fever. It’s also great that you can do loads of laundry while you work, or that you are always around for the cable guy to come over during a 12-hour window. It’s also great come tax-season because we can deduct a lot of expenses.

How do you approach design-related decisions that you make as a couple in your daily lives?

Everything has to be agreed upon by both of us, and everything happens pretty organically. We might be at the grocery store trying to select fruit and we might discuss type choices for that logo project at the same time. Life and work discussions intertwine and it becomes very easy to solve them.

How do you approach your children’s connection to design and the visual arts?

We have a 3-year-old and a newborn. There is no real connection, other than we are more discerning with the children’s books we buy. Anything with Comic Sans or dumb quotes stays at the bookstore.

What’s the best thing about being a couple working in design?

That you are not alone in your craziness! When you point at a bad design, or when you bitch about a poor one, there is someone there that, simply, gets it.

Next: Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller

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