Untitled Macao is an award-winning design studio founded by Au Chon Hin and Si Nga Ian. The studio first came onto our radar after seeing them use Sharp Grotesk and Beatrice Display in their branding and identity projects. We had the pleasure of hosting the two at our studio in New York City last fall when they were in town being awarded as ADC Young Guns 17 winners, and have only continued to be fans of their work. In this interview, we chatted with Hin & Ian to learn more about graphic design in Macao, multi-script typography, and the studio’s approach to design.
Image: Lyrics Exhibition & Mini Concert using Sharp Grotesk, 2019.
Q: 我們首先想認識一下你們的工作室。你們兩位是如何認識和開始Untitled Macao?
A: 我們兩位一同就讀於澳門理工學院，是大學同學而相識。首先我們公司分別有兩個名稱，是UNTITLED MACAO LTD. 及UNTITLED DESIGN LTD。我們公司主要為客人提供品牌、活動設計及創意策劃，並抱住做好每一個項目的創作理念。UNTITLED MACAO在風格上用色大膽，利用澳門本地文化與城市相連。因澳門暫未具有如紐約市設計行業的專業性，但我們想利用設計去改變一般人對設計師的看法。
Q: First, we’d like to learn about your studio. How did the two of you meet and decide to form Untitled Macao?
A: We both studied and met at the Macao Polytechnic Institute. Our company consists of two divisions, Untitled Macao Ltd. and Untitled Design Ltd. The company’s main focus is to provide branding service, curation and creative strategies to our clients and we strive to do our best for them. Untitled Macao intends to be adventurous and bold in terms of style and color, and aims to connect local Macao culture with the city. Since Macao’s design industry is still under development, we are devoted to influence our community on how they perceive design and designers.
Images: Present Future Film Festival using Beatrice Display, 2019.
Q: Tell us about the graphic design culture and scene in Macao. How does being based in Macao, and in the larger context of East Asia, shape your design practice?
A: Macao has held several large-scale cultural activities including art festivals and music festivals. Although the design culture in Macao is not as international, I think the market is improving and there are a lot of good opportunities. I was born and raised in Macao, and continue to live here so we feel most familiar with East Asia. Since there is huge cultural difference between Asia, Europe and the US, we hope to explore more in between these cultures to showcase Macao’s unique design and culture to the world.
Q: You often work on large-scale branding projects that involve a range of formats from billboards and physical spaces, to digital media and ephemera. How does this inform your design approach? What role does typography play in these scenarios?
A: We first communicate with the client and look for a distinguishing focus and then decide on the graphics, fonts and style. Fonts and typography are more crucial in the larger-scale projects because it allows people to read clearly, and attract their attention with a distinctive quality.
Images: Macao International Parade using Sharp Grotesk, 2019.
Q: All of your projects bring together multiple scripts. What typographic and design considerations do you have to make when working with Chinese and Latin type?
A: Since Macao was a Portuguese colony, we have to work with three official languages in all of our designs: English, Chinese, and Portuguese. This means the fonts we use require diacritics support for Portuguese. Our target audience has a pretty wide age range so we need to make sure the reading direction and typesetting have to be clear for everyone from 3 to 60.
Images: Macao Design Week using Beatrice Display, 2018. This project won Bronze in the Visual Identity System category at the Hong Kong Designers Assocation’s 2019 Global Design Awards.
A: 我們是從網上平台及其他設計師的作品認識到Sharp Type，其字體的個性及獨特性非常適合放於生活上。首先，Beatrice Display這個字體我認為在粗幼方面做得非常好，給予人一種優雅而強烈的個性。若用於一些正式場合更能為該話動帶出另一層次。另外，我當時是留意到DropBox品牌使用Sharp Grotesk這個字體，它給我一種誇越度很大的感覺。我認為在較正式或隆重的場合中，平常會選用的字體都太正規。在澳門國際幻彩大巡遊中，我在設計上構思了一條路線，希望在窄或闊的排版情況下都可以用到同一款字體而Sharp Grotesk就正好適合。而澳門設計週中選用了Beatrice Display因為它給予設計週一種較高級而有個性的感覺。
Q: We really love the way you have used our typefaces. How did you learn about Sharp Type? What drew you to Beatrice Display and Sharp Grotesk, and how were they good fits for your projects?
A: We learned about Sharp Type through social media, and saw work by other designers using Sharp Type fonts. The personality and uniqueness of the typefaces are suitable for daily use and add an extra layer of flavor when used at formal events.
When I was looking at Dropbox’s implementation of Sharp Grotesk, it led to a moment of transcendence. In a lot of grand events, the font choice is usually too formal. I decided to use Sharp Grotesk for the Macao International Parade because of its flexibility in width. For Macao Design Week, I decided to use Beatrice Display because it is well crafted, elegant, and strong at the same time.