How I got here from there

.The Past Forward.

ONCE WE WERE

SGTH Designs was a studio I founded and ran full time from 2003 to 2010. Based in Shanghai PRC [yeah baby yeah] we were known as an enclave of professional non-conformists and real-time artistic renegades, hell-bent on bringing ideas to life – ideas that will connect and resonate. How does that clock in for declaration?

The ‘I’ in that sentence stands for Mario. Mario Van der Meulen – pleased to make acquaintance. A shortcut to self-indulgence is found here, which you can interpret as a soft push to link up. Where was I? SGTH, right.

It came down to us being grounded in truth and purpose. My philosophy is not to just tell our clients what they want to hear, but rather to show them what a non-subjective but selective mind (aka, their audience) will accept and embrace.

My priority is to deliver a message in the right time and the right space, with the right material, and in the right tone. Be it pretty, be it funny, be it straight to the point. But always eco-conscious. My commitment is to attack each of your challenges with the same tenacity, creativity and accountability as if they were my own.

That was SGTH Designs. This was how our bee bumbled = we were not an ad agency, because we were not agents of advertising. We were agents of change. Positive change. We had no clients, because that would imply servitude. We worked with like-minded partners. Think birds of a feather.

Bold you say? Definitely. Brash? Maybe. Boring? Never.

.A Different Focus.

BEING SGTH, THE FAT

SGTH Designs made ideas happen. Made positive-change ideas happen. Designers create so much of what we see, what we use, and what we experience. In this time of unprecedented environmental, social, and economic crises, designers can choose what their profession will be about: craft more deceptions that encourage more consumption and waste – or start helping repair the world.

Design matters. Like never before. It made me change my perspective, and my design actions. I made a bold call to arms: I alerted ourselves and our clients to the role we both play in persuading global audiences to fulfill the designed and communicated needs. I outlined a more sustainable approach to both the practice and the consumption of design communication.

It’s about how one designer can feel better about himself by holding onto his core principles.

So it is said we cannot change the world. We reply ‘you cannot NOT change the world’. This mentality helped us to work for clients and brands on four different continents – and still have a lot of fun. Because the good news is we loved what we do and did.

My clients say it showed.

.A bigger stage.

NOT JUST MAKING THINGS PRETTY

Enter 2010. After 8 years of looking for [and finding] clients and teams who wish to stir up their industry with some creative thinking and/or problem solving, I was ready for a change. My design areas are based on my passion, expertise, credentials, alliances and points-of-view. I develop and service brands that aim to genuinely improve and/or enrich people’s lives. When a brand provides a uniquely engaging experience, it elicits a passion in us that transcends reason. That brand becomes a shared-value destination. When the potential of innovative ideas becomes relevant, our lives are transformed. Such transformations deliver meaning to what we do, when we do it. We live in an exciting, creative time of transformation, with very big problems that demand solutions – both small and big.

I wanted to be part of a process and practice that aspires to make a change in the world. And if not a change, then at least a dent.

I increasingly looked for brands, projects and teams that wanted me to join them to define what is possible. Lucky me, the universe was lining up to follow suit.

.RibbitRibbit.

FORM FOLLOWS EMOTION

In 2010 I made the leap [pun intended] and closed SGTH to join frog Shanghai. Why frog? Because design studios that create the future are not fearing the future. We’re agile, adaptive and highly collaborative, deeply rooted in design and technology. Digital, Mobile, Social, Traditional or Guerilla. All of us are experts at incubating big ideas and activating them. We have a winning methodology, without being enslaved to it. And we are all in love with new ideas.

.Why This Site.

BECAUSE

It is a modest contribution to showcase both the talent I inserted in projects and writings, as well as highlight what some amazing people are doing with their own brands, or those they feel passionate about.

I decided to keep this site with a few simple premises in mind. Foremost, design is a window onto the world at large, and the cultures we live in. Fascinating stuff, I say. Then, to fulfill their role, designers create objects that meet some unrecognized need. All businesses strive to do the same thing.

I believe that a company’s most important employees aren’t its bankers or management gurus, but rather the graphic, industrial, and interface designers who design and communicate the things a company actually makes. Above all; that solve a problem and improve on previous results.

And so I cover news about products, business ventures, and wild ideas. Bring you controversial ideas and publish essays. All of these are intended to start new conversations, and inspire new ideas. Nice touch. I promise not to show or tell just anything, as long as you forgive the occasional rant and influx of sarcasm.

In which, by the way, I am quite fluent. Your move.