Storytelling design: interview with StudioDWAS

“Design With A Story” aka StudioDWAS is a product design duo focused on creating essential pieces to tell profound stories.

StudioDWAS is a Dusseldorf based studio composed by Begüm Tomruk and Mirko Goetzen, two highly skilled product designers with a global background and experiences in companies like Sony, Nokia, Ziba Design and Grundig. The studio aims for the importance of emotional storytelling in product design and the magic it creates.

What’s the story behind “Design With A Story”?

StudioDWAS: “We have been designing for corporate companies for many years and have many products on the market. It was always a dream of us to create our own unique designs. One evening we simply decided to create an Instagram account called “Design With A Story”. Our aim was to upload concepts of products that are different from most things we see on the shelves today. We wanted to create products that are touching, emotional and make people think and wonder. We started to question “the existing”, generating concepts based on illusions and experimenting with philosophical approaches. Many products turned out the be a mixture between art and design. Some of our designs were even a bit polarizing. Intentionally.”

StudioDWAS Blurry Glass

“We realized quite fast that our concepts were shared in blogs & platforms all over the globe, which brought new clients even in totally different fields. Brands and individuals responded well to our clean and simple branding content, we suddenly saw us curating Instagram accounts & social media shootings. Also our beautiful white loft in Düsseldorf, Germany, became a unique rental space for photographers from all over the world.”

“Recently we shortened our name from Studio “Design With A Story” to StudioDWAS.”

StudioDWAS Blurry Glass

What is the design process in DWAS? How does a new story unfold?

StudioDWAS: There is no clear and simple design process for what we are doing. We spent lots of time in museums and are getting inspired by the latest art and design innovations. Anything we see, hear or feel can trigger a new idea. A simple feeling that “we don’t have enough time”, triggered us in 2018 to design a watch with a blurred watch face to remind people that time and moments matter. We also often select a topic we are interested in and come up with designs around this topic. This is how we developed a series of unique furniture pieces based on the topic illusion.”

StudioDWAS Relax Watch

Is there a reason for DWAS to follow a minimalistic approach in order to create storytelling design?

StudioDWAS: “Storytelling design does not necessarily have to be minimal. But it helps to be minimal to get the story across. It’s hard to convey a simple message on a product that is full of complexity. The viewer would have to read the story through all the complexity he or she sees. If you are the only guest in a movie theater, you can focus fully on the story the movie tells. Now imagine there are plenty of other guests all talking and throwing popcorn. It will be hard to focus on the message. Now adapt this back to the product design. Elements supporting the message you want to convey should be dominant. Other elements passive in the background.

StudioDWAS The other room

Does the story create the product or does the product open possibilities to tell a story?

StudioDWAS: Each product opens possibilities to tell a story. And most products already do. A simple cup with a round handle tells the user: Grab me here!”

But a story can also create a new product. Our watch Relax by StudioDWAS is a great example of this. Our intentions were to create something that reminds people that moments matter. In this case, the story created a product, which did not exist before: a watch with a frosted front face that shows the time blurry and undefined. So both ways are possible.”

StudioDWAS Relax Clock

Are there stories that are harder to tell than others?

StudioDWAS: There are endless possibilities to tell a story in design. There are functional and emotional stories. The easiest way to tell a story in design is around usability, so functional. Every product you see on the market does that and every product designer is trained to tell stories around usability. A designer knows how to design a button so that the user understands where and how he has to press.”

“But there are other ways to tell stories in design. Stories that are touching, emotional and make people think or wonder. We call them emotional stories. These stories are often based on important topics such as environment, human rights, tempo, time or similar.”

Implementing these emotional stories into a design is more challenging than functional stories and the results often tend to be a mixture between design and art.

StudioDWAS Mirror and hanger

Undergraduate student of Industrial Design at NABA, Milano. Thinker, doer and outdoors enthusiast. Understanding the world in order to help the shift towards a sustainable planet through design and every day action.