Logo-FIDO

Join the directory!

A little chat with Verónica Majluf

Portrait: Daniel Alcaide

Verónica Majluf was born and raised in Lima. After studying at the Instituto Toulouse Lautrec (TLS), she concluded her studies at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and of Graphic Design. In 1992 she joined Studioa, where she directed brand projects for leading institutions and businesses. In 2011, she joined Ralph Bauer to form vm& estudio gráfico. Her work has been published in Étapes, Communication Arts, Novum, Slanted, and in design anthologies including Latin American Graphic Design (Taschen, 2008), How Ideas are Born (Haoki, 2022) and La Tina (Pupila, 2023). She has participated in the Bienal Iberoamericana de Diseño, held in Madrid and other international design events, including Homage to Brecht, on the centenary of the German dramatist’s birth, Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany, and the Gwangju Biennale, held in South Korea. She has worked to establish the graphic design field in Peru, both through the training of new generations as through her involvement as advisor in design programs at leading local universities. She is a founding member of the Peruvian Association of Design Companies (ADÑ), a member of the Board of Trustees for the Lima Art Museum (MALI) and, since 2019, a member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale).

A typographic game based on the observation of the word, on the idea of time and its meanings. Seeks to draw with typography, the suggestion of moments and the succession of times.

A little about your design process…

Fido: What does your process look like? 

Verónica Majluf: In generating ideas, I’m quite old school. I still use pencil and paper to think—I need to think by hand, to consider possibilities and search for words. Words in fact inspire my creative process and serve as tools in finding solutions

F: Do you have a design method and use/adapt it in every project?

V.M: I usually try to first understand the context, which involves research into design precedents, business/institutional competition and social contexts. This research serves to process ideas in dialogue with clients, which leads to the final development phase, to ground and communicate those complex ideas visually. But the process also varies from client to client.

So I can simplify my creative process as:

Looking (understanding the context).

Processing (knowing how to analyze).

Developing (landing and communicating ideas visually).

F:Do you work with any traditional form of craft? If so, could you explain how your connection is to them and how you combine these with other parts of your methodology?

V.M:

Sketches

I think through drawing and writing. 

Play

I try to look for associations between words, shapes, letters and colors.

Words

Words open my creative process.

A flexible brand with endless combinations. It is able to connect to different kinds of publics through music and emotion.

Let’s talk business!

F: How has it been to create  your own studio? 

V.M: I started out working at Studioa, a company that was oriented to branding and commercial projects. It was there that I learned what I know of the design business, from organizational issues (marketing, strategy, planning, and production) to the importance of building relationships with clients, designers, and suppliers. After two decades of work at Studioa and changes in my personal life, I decided to change course. I understood that what I wanted was to work in a smaller structure, with less stress, to enjoy design again and simplify the working process. That’s when I founded vm& estudio gráfico.

F: What difficulties did you face? Which advantages did you have?

V.M: Being a designer in Peru is a true challenge. It is not easy to develop a career in a country where design is a relatively new business, and where clients still fail to understand the potential and impact that design has in business and society. There are few spaces for specialization in a weak market, where fees are extremely low and where large companies rarely trust their projects to local firms. At the same time, there are many areas of opportunity. It has been exciting to play a part in shaping the emergence of a contemporary design culture in Peru, giving value and visibility to the field of design. Working with other designers, we have conceived projects to promote the field, to explain how graphic design is a powerful tool for communication, and a means to propose fresh perspectives on local history and contemporary society.

F: Do you think there are differences between being a Latin American entrepreneur and someone from the Global North? If so, which ones? 

V.M: I think there are great differences. The size of the market in the Global North is one, but there are also advantages to be drawn from larger and more stable economic contexts, more global perspectives, more competition and openness towards innovation. In general, I find there is a greater understanding and respect for the value and potential of design.

F: How do you balance the conflict between the economic aspect and your own requirements on the quality of your work? 

V.M: This is the most difficult task. We need to work hard to survive in a very tough environment, and it is difficult to survive in a market that doesn’t value and respect design. It’s difficult to keep up with quality when you have restricted fees, time pressure and clients not open to fly and play with ideas that break with conventions. Through the Association of Peruvian Design Companies (ADÑ), we are attempting to create initiatives and platforms that seek to promote the value, the growth and the competitiveness of our profession, to help build an easier path for future generations.

A visual compilation of objects, textures, color, typography abstract elements, signage and architecture photographed on different trips.

Women&Design in the Latin American context

F: Do you think there are special challenges for women (and especially for women from the Global South) in the design field? Which ones?

V.M: In Peru, over the past two decades, design has been largely a profession associated with women. And I would think that, given patriarchal prejudices, this association may have contributed to the perception of design as a sort of minor field. I think it is difficult to overcome such prejudice.  

F: What do you think about positive discrimination? (both from an ethnic and gender perspective)

V.M: I tend to support positive discrimination, especially in a country like Peru, where there is a serious issue of structural racism and where gender inequality is profound. 

F: How do you perceive female models in design? Do you have references around or you feel an absence in that matter?

V.M: When design emerged as a profession in Peru in the 1960s most professionals where male designers, many of whom were foreigners who established a practice in Lima. There were very few local female models for those of us who started working in design in the 1990s. Gradually, however, we have come to discover pioneering female designer like Elena Izcue, an extraordinary designer working in the 1920s and 1930s, who was inspired by pre-Columbian art. There are exceptions, but our references remain largely male figures. Fortunately, things are starting to change. I see more and more better work from female designers that inspire me to move forward.

The concept of the project was the “line” and it proposed a contemporary look at one of the most visible expressions of the history of Peru, the Nasca lines.

F: How is your historical and political context important to you in terms of creation?

V.M: My interest in patterns comes from Peru’s complex cultural heritage, which I have “archived”, not always consciously, and which somehow constantly emerges in my practice. And this emerges to somehow counter the complex social and political problems of contemporary Peru, particularly of Lima. I believe that the constant need to simplify in my design practice, to generate order and create structures, is a response to the disorderly growth of Lima, my city, one that has surpassed any notion of planning. My work responds by reaction to that specific context.

A cardboard wall clock inspired by the perfectly cut stone that forms part of an Inca wall in Cuzco, Perú. The idea was to bring a fresh and contemporary look to an iconic image, to bring the past into the present, making something static move, something heavy seem light and something untouchable be touchable.

*** All the images are property of ©VerónicaMajluf, you’ll need her explicit permission to reproduce them 🙂

Related Posts

The invisible is the fateful imposter

A research piece on The Imposter Syndrome and it's huge impacts in the creative industries

Interviews you need to watch

Some interviews key in the research process of the Creative Fateful Imposter

Digging into design: Núria Vila

Núria Vila's work specializes in visual communication, brand identity and packaging design, but she’s also a curator, an artist, a

We uses cookies to provide and improve our services. By using our site, you consent this cookies. Learn more.