(Rafa) About a metaphysical union between different generations that are somehow trying to find their own path within the visual production field. And I say visual because we count on in our ranks with directors, photographers, illustrators… We will probably include as well a graphic design studio and are even considering the possibility of organising exhibitions within our premises.
(Luis) I think the easiest way to explain it is saying that O is about trying to turn our work into something that will make us happier.
(Emília) Yes, O is a group of people getting together to do what each one does best with the idea of enjoying themselves. And when I talk about the group I don’t mean only Rafa, Luis and me, but all our collaborators. O is a collective because this works as a whole.
(Rafa) It’s a kind of crossroads, quite a complex one, because from the beginning it implies three mentalities from three very different generations. Although, in fact, that’s what we find the most interesting.
(Emília) And necessary.
(Emília) Because covering the entire generation spectrum in any situation, be it ours, for a professional purpose, or another, is basic. It’s like a prism that allows you to view different perspectives. If you only consider the young one, or the more mature one, you lose track of many things.
(Rafa) Time isn’t linear. It has more to do with circles. I sometimes feel more at ease with people who are exactly on the other end of the spectrum, for example Emi, than with people from my own generation. She contributes with something that I would rarely find at my end. But, at a given moment, everything comes together even if we are opposites: Emi is 26 years old and I am the same numbers but the other way around. Luis is the hinge between us. Every now and then he goes bonkers and then, unlike Emi and I, he turns into this unbearable teenager.
(Luis) I’m just the most immature one. The thing about age and maturity is very weird…
(Emília) I’ve always thought that Luis comes from the future.
(Luis) (Laughs) Like in the washing powder commercial…
(Emília) (Laughs) We’d never revealed this before…
(Luis) Wait a minute…
(Emília) He comes from the future because he’s got a very timeless outlook. To me this is disturbingly surprising, in a nice way, although I’m not sure this is the best way to describe the feeling I get…
Talking about feelings: Which emotion do you think is more present when starting a project, excitement or fear?
(Luis) Those two emotions aren’t incompatible. In my case, this project generates many others. But it all depends on where you come from. There’s excitement about the new and fear to repeat the same past mistakes.
(Emília) For me it’s a mixture as well. I’d never started a project of this magnitude before and it has something of the “in what mess I’m getting involved with” thing to it.
(Rafa) Well, when it comes to me, I’ve got to say that of all the projects I’ve been involved with, this is the one that has caused me to panic the most!
(They all laugh)
(Rafa) My previous projects were a result of reason and the normal evolution within the advertisement field. I’ve jumped from agency to audiovisual production company, and from audiovisual production company to agency. And it went well. But this project turns that world upside down. The world of communication has changed so much that, in the current situation, trying to reinvent oneself entails the risk of making mistakes. It kind of makes you dizzy.
O produces other people’s visual projects or generates its own?
(Luis) We do both and with the same team. Then, we have to separate the commercial work (advertisement commissions or things to do with agencies or brands) from the personal. With the jobs we accept to earn money we have a lot of fun, but we also want to carry out projects we and our collaborators think of.
(Emília) Like the web site editorial project, for example.
(Rafa) The main goal is to unite things so that other things might come out of them; to try and create a space to host different individualities from which something collective might arise. We want O to be an inspiring place where people can do things that they weren’t doing up to know because they were lacking a space to do them. That’s our intention.
Up to what point, then, is this interview a declaration of intentions? Or is it an “about us”? Or maybe it’s a manifesto?
(Luis) We had the idea of making a manifesto. But there was something dogmatic to it that didn’t convince us.
(Emília) A manifesto has this inflexible thing to it.
(Luis) To begin with, writing a sort of decalogue of principles sounded a bit conceited. We have very clear ideas about what we want to do, but writing them down seemed somewhat arrogant.
(Rafa) Especially because O is born with the idea of being able to constantly transform. If you follow a pre-established set of rules and precepts, like a constitution or magna carta, you have the big problem of self-regulation. And we don’t want to lose our capacity to mutate, because we’d become predictable, and this is something that terrifies us. I think that the editorial contents of O’s web site, what we publish each week, is our manifesto. There’s where you’ll see what we want, what we like, our work, our ideas… It’s our daily manifesto.
By the way, I still haven’t asked you, why O?
(Emília) Oops… That’s the question everybody asks. And, well, the name of the project was taboo during all the meetings we had to talk about what we’ll be doing and not doing. It was the big elephant in the room. In the end, the result is the minimal possible expression.
(Luis) O appears in all our surnames…
(Emília) But that’s not the reason.
(Rafa) That’s the reason you found!
(Luis) Well, there was a series of concepts that Rafa compiled and when we had a final list of names, we saw that, of all the candidates, O was the one which fitted the most.
You’re aware of the problems that such a name can cause, right? Not only having to explain it a thousand times, but to fill in forms, to Google it…
(Luis) Yes, yes… You know our url?
(Rafa) It’s the alphabet.
(Emília) Minus the O: abcdefghi… and when you get to the O there’s a dash.
(Luis) And with the logo it’s something similar.
(Emília) In the beginning, from the design studio (Folch Studio) all we got were proposals of different typographic Os, because otherwise it was difficult to make out our name. And they were right: if someone from another part of the world, I don’t know, Singapore, sees our logo, it can look like an eclipse, a hole, a constellation, a nipple… Anything apart from the letter O, but we like that.
(Luis) They told you it looked like a nipple?
(Emília) I’ve been told all sorts of things…