Renders for Red Bull's 20 Before 17 campaign by CATK Studio
Conceptual, beautiful, and futuristic are probably the best words to describe the work of Berlin-based interdisciplinary design studio Colors And The Kids (CATK), which works across the fields of technology, design, art and music.
Since its inception in 2008 by founders Elisabeth Schulze, Sebastian Gerbert and Maik Bluhm, the design studio has been consistently creating and directing memorable campaigns using 3D, illustration, motion graphics, animation and sound design, making stunning identities for brands the likes of Google, Red Bull, IBM, Microsoft, Nike, and BMW to name a few. The coolest part is the seemingly effortless marriage of the studio and the brand, given how the signature CATK aesthetic, bold style and use of color shines through in each project.
A decade in, the studio still retains its unique playful aesthetic and freshness, while keeping up with technological advancements to develop entirely new visual and sonic languages. They speak to us about the workings of the studio, early inspirations and the current design trends informing their work:
CATK’s Creative Direction for Nike Force Lunarbeast Pro
Who were some early inspirations that have informed your work?
A very early inspiration for us all was definitely Terminator 2 by James Cameron, which introduced us to the possibilities of film as a medium for storytelling and the creation of unseen worlds at a young age. In general, we came of age at the point where home computers were very accessible and you could already do quite a bit with them. Also, early contacts with art and music played an important role.
Colour, smoke, geometry, and playfulness are important elements in your work. How would you define the CATK aesthetic?
We think it is more an attitude that we have towards our work and relationships, which is free and open-minded; not bound to anything in particular. Even though we always try new things, at the core we’re the same people. Thus we have a certain consistency in our work.
You’ve been around for a decade. What are the most inspiring trends in the design world at the moment?
We’re now living in a very fast moving world with steep advancements in technology in many fields. Through this, there aren’t as many technical problems anymore and almost every creative thought is possible to translate into being, which is one of the most inspiring things in general.
Surfaces and patterns designed by the studio
Does it ever get overwhelming with too much visual intake/output? How do you cope?
In our opinion, you can never get enough visual intake. But it is important to get inspiration from sources outside of the design world, which can be far more stimulating than spending two hours on the internet. You also should develop a pretty good filter to get most out of your experiences and never let yourself down because you think you are not there yet; it is a process.
Is the music as important as the visual aesthetic?
Yes, we think it's equally important. That's why we create our own music for all of our projects.
Considering a lot of the work CATK does is digital, does the physical element matter? What’s the studio space like?
We have a very cozy studio which is not like a factory and more like a shared flat, which suits our very open and familiar style of working. With the incorporation of more advanced input styles for the digital realm, our analog roots are finding their way more and more back into our work.
Windows 8 packaging graphics by CATK
What are you most looking forward to about the India trip and festival?
We have never been to India, so this naturally comes with a lot of excitement and curiosity about the country and Mumbai itself. And of course, we’re very keen to get a glimpse of the local design scene. The festival also looks like a fantastic opportunity to get a good overview of the different cultures represented.
Maik Bluhm and Sebastian Gerbert, the Creative Directors at CATK, will be speaking at the Design Fabric Festival on 31st March.