PEOPLEText: Sachiko Kurashina

Syrup, based in New York and Helsinki in Finland, made a cover design for this issue. It might be the first time to hear their name but Syrup is a group of talented people that deal with many projects with top companies. Efforts above the average, concept is the most important thing, building up a close relation ship with clients… From these words, you will see their honest, reliable and upright attitude.

Please introduce yourself. The name “Syrup” is unique. What is this name derived from?

Well, we have sort of stopped answering that question about the name. We’ve found that its best to let people make their own associations – it works out better that way and is usually more exciting than the real story.

Syrup began as sort of a joke – Rob and Jakob said “hey, lets start a company” and they did – then they got one client, another and another, etc. The company developed from there organically through client acquisition rather than through external funding or anything like that. We cover art direction, print advertising, brand development, interactive and video/broadcast development, technology application development and brand strategy services.

One of the core philosophies of Syrup is to stay as small as possible – a smaller company is more flexible, can move faster on market trends and can keep a less structured work atmosphere. We really wanted to avoid the hierarchy and politics of larger agencies which usually works against good, honest communication and creative energy. Our clients appreciate the strong personalized connection to the agency’s top management. There’s a comfort level when they know that the senior people are hands on when it comes to our projects.

What kind of projects do you usually do? Could you please introduce some projects that you are doing or you have just finished?

We have had our hands in all sorts of projects lately. We’re known for our work in the fashion and luxury world but we have been doing more and more work in telecommunications and entertainment. Recent projects include Designs for Polo Ralph Lauren, creative direction for Travel Savvy magazine, in-store campaigns for James Perse (the Los Angeles fashion designer), video concept development for Volvo, video/after effects work for Silhouette eyewear, new brand campaign for the Koneisto Music Festival (Scandinavia’s largest electronic music and art), a music video for a European electronic music act, brand development and interactive development for Judith Leiber, etc.,etc…we’ve been having a very busy summer and it just ain’t letting up anytime soon…

Syrup is based in New York and Helsinki, the capital of Finland. Why did you choose Helsinki as the second basement? I am curious about the creative scene in Finland, too.

In 2001, Syrup opened an office in Helsinki, Finland with Antti Hinkula and Teemu Suviala. The move was made in order to increase our European presence and enhance our global perspective in order to service larger clients. The choice of Finland was really based on the talent of Antti and Teemu combined with their creative connection to Syrup’s Scandinavian design aesthetics (Jakob is from Stockholm, Sweden). With the European community functioning more and more as a unified economic entity, it is easier now to do business across the continent from one location and we find that Helsinki is fresher than other cities.

Your fields are really diverse from webs to visual identities for companies, CD sleeves and illustrations. What is your secret(s) to provide fresh and innovative designs?

“Work or go home” – that’s our motto and that is absolutely true. You have to burn for this business to be succsessful and must make the commitment to working unbelievably hard in order to make it pay off. Its all about servicing the client well. Creative talent is essential but not a guarantee – a lot of talented people fail in their businesses. If you can’t bring a project across the finish line on time and in budget, you won’t get called again – that’s all there is to it. Also, being an overly arrogant asshole won’t win you business either… most of the time ; )

Our goal is to produce design that gives people something to think about, something that causes even a little reaction in people’s minds. We are continuously updating and improving our style. We keep the clients happy while holding on to our creative integrity because in the end, a trust has to develop between us and the clients – that kind of relationship breeds mutual respect. We try not to ever lose site of this in our work.

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