What’s the story behind S & Team?
Well the story is long, so grab yourself a cup of coffee before you start reading. Before I’d even finished Design School, I knew I wanted to start my own graphic design business. So right after graduating, I rented a small office in the center of Athens - nothing fancy. Quite the opposite! But, still, I was very happy to have my own space. As you can imagine, I did not have clients knocking down my door. But, apart from the stress and responsibilities, I sort of felt like I was finally living my dream.
While I was working as a freelancer, I was offered a job at an ad agency. I thought it over and decided to take it, because I needed to gain more experience. So in the following couple of years, I worked as an employee, which was a truly valuable lesson. I improved as a graphic designer, I mastered printmaking techniques and learned to deal with challenging clients. It was 1998, almost 20 years ago, when I decided to relive my dream, and so I opened S & Team brand agency.
Why did you choose the name S & Team?
From day one I never saw myself as more important than the people working with me. I always valued their opinion and felt that the office is the result of co-working between S, which stands for Spiliopoulos (myself) & the team. All the people who have worked with me throughout all these years, like Eirini, Stella, Vanessa, Katerina, Leonidas, Alexia & Aggeliki. The ‘&’ is a key element of our name. It reflects our culture as an office, our deep belief that the best results come from working together as a team and working closely with our customers. It’s all about co-design & collaborations.
I must admit though that it is not a very fine sounding name. S & Team has been always misheard as ‘S n Trim’ or ‘S & Tin’ and the list goes on. Hahaha! But I’ve learned patience through time, and I don’t mind repeating S & Team 100 times, until the person I am talking to gets our name right.
What do you like most about your job?
That’s quite hard to answer. Okay, let’s see. I must admit that I really enjoy first meetings with new customers. I love listening to entrepreneurs share their stories, their business plans and goals. I like figuring out what’s the bigger picture and vision behind what they are doing. Besides, this very first discussion sets the foundations of the co-design process.
Also, I have a soft spot for print production process. I very much enjoy the process of choosing printing techniques and paper type. You may have read somewhere in our blog that I like the feel of paper in my hands. Not in a creepy way, I must note.
Who has been your favorite client?
To be honest I don’t have a favorite. We (since I am talking on behalf of the whole team) like all our clients equally. It does not make any difference to us whether they be multinational companies or small producers. We treat them all in the same professional manner, regardless of client’s turnover. But the best thing about our relationship with our customers is that they turn into friends with time. It’s something that comes naturally. What needs to be done will be done, but in the meantime we’ll say a joke or two. Some may even ask for personal advice, which is really flattering because this means they trust us.
What does design mean to you?
Design is visually expressing the essential truth of a brand in a way that makes sense to people. When designing we put aside our personal preferences. We don’t design for ourselves, nor for our clients. The complete focus is on the end consumers. We shape design decisions using customer personas (a detailed picture of a hypothetical character, based upon research, which encompasses the goals and behavior patterns among potential customers). Because at the end of the day, there is no reason to design a packaging that satisfies our clients’ or our own aesthetic criteria but fails to connect with consumers. Lastly, I believe that design should communicate clearly and that’s why clarity encompasses all our projects.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up at 7:00 am, usually before my alarm goes off. I take a shower, get dressed and eat my breakfast while reading design-related news, in blogs like ‘The Aiga Eye on Design.' I leave the house around 8:30 and head to KUDU, my favorite coffee shop, to ‘ritually’ drink a flat white. I stay there for a while to chat with my coffee gang and go to the office before anyone else, to get organized without any disruptions. And the day always starts with a smile.
What inspires you?
Travelling. This year I’ve been to three cities, Edinburg, Milan and Munich. I have created a massive library with photos from inspiring shop interiors, package designs, stationery and company logos. Every trip is a good shot of inspiration.