What we do.
We love to break new ground and take on challenges, but our services typically involve
- Brand Identity
- Brand Strategy
- Concept Development
- Concept development
- Print & Production
- Signage & Environmental
- Art Direction
- Art Projects
- Editorial Illustration
- Pattern Design
- Animated Design
- Social Media
We are driven by a desire to make the world better, easier and more delightful through design and thinking. The scale of the projects we work on varies from one-off image making and illustration projects to complex identity programs. We will always try to maximise the potential of any project, no matter what the scale or budget. We take a considered, thoughtful approach to the work we do. We work with conscience and care deeply about the projects we undertake.
We’d love to hear from you.
8 Hercules Street
Leanne Amodeo is a writer, editor and educator on design, architecture and visual art. She sat down with Paul and Danielle late on a Tuesday morning to discuss their motivation, methodology and why the design process should be fun.
This is the outcome.
Paul and Danielle claim there’s no real secret to being able to live and work together, but then again, the South African-born designers have a knack of making everything look easy. They moved to Sydney in 1998, established naughtyfish four years on, rebranded as Garbett Design in 2014 – all the while picking up swags of awards along the way. The duo is committed to delivering inspired outcomes for their clients; in fact, their client-focused agenda is what makes them stand out.
How does your business model set you apart from other design studios?
Paul: While we’re not averse to project managers and we do have staff and contractors who support us, our business model is built around clients having direct access to either Danielle or I as the studio’s principals.
Danielle: Paul and I really value collaboration and believe in building strong relationships with our clients, so it’s important they feel like they can collaborate and participate in the design process. The best results are built on trust and that isn’t going to happen if messages get filtered down through a hierarchy of different people. When you work with us – you get us.
Is there such a thing as an ideal client?
Paul: We like to work with clients who are ambitious about what they do; decision makers who are passionate about their business. So we’re comfortable working across a range of different industries and disciplines and for this reason our client list is diverse.
Danielle: We also like to work with clients who are willing to look at their business in a way they may not have previously – people who are open to new ways of doing things.
How do you begin the design process once you receive a brief?
Paul: There really is no typical job, but for each of our clients we do try to find out as much as we can about them, analyse the competitive market and then explore what we can do for them that will set them apart. It’s a process of clarification, simplification and distillation until we find the most inspired and meaningful way in which to express an idea. Danielle and I are always asking ourselves, ‘Does this feel right? Is it exciting? Will it work?’
Danielle: It’s all about research and getting to know our clients, asking ourselves how we can take them in another direction to their competitors. The really exciting thing about being designers is we get to meet so many different, interesting people and become completely immersed in what they do and how they go about the day-to-day running of their business.
Are there any particular methods you favour during the design process?
Danielle: We do sit down and draw, but sometimes it’s also nice to physically make something three-dimensional and use it somehow. It’s good to get out of that very flat way of thinking, move away from the computer and bend paper or sew something, which makes the whole process a lot richer.
Paul: I always try to bring something random into the process and force myself to think about that in light of the brief. And I do like to immerse myself in the process by either using a mood board or simply being in the studio surrounded by stuff…
Danielle: We’re constantly collecting things – maybe we’ll pick something up or take a photograph of something – and even though we don’t really know how we’re going to use those things, we end up weaving them into the briefs we’re working on at the time.
Is your work underpinned by a particular design philosophy?
Paul: A lot of the designs in our portfolio use simple, geometric forms that have a high-impact aesthetic. But we try to start each project without too many preconceptions and let the needs of the project drive what we do. While the shapes and colours that Danielle and I both grew up with in South Africa influence our work, it’s not always appropriate to use them for every job. We just try to do good work that keeps evolving our practice.
Judging by your portfolio, you’re also involved in a number of side projects. How do these contribute to your studio work?
Paul: I do a lot of drawing and painting and also make print-based artworks. The intention is to use them to progress our studio work into directions our clients’ briefs don’t always allow. These side projects end up feeding the commissioned work, building our levels of creativity.
How important is it to have fun with what you do?
Paul: We’re all about having fun and being playful, but it’s balanced by a thoughtful approach grounded in design history and knowing how we got to this point as an industry. We really believe in what we do and we believe in the power of design to guide, change perceptions, educate and create better quality of life. It’s more than a career for us – it’s a calling, and we want to create work that makes the world more beautiful, ordered, functional or joyful.
Danielle: Paul and I put as much love and attention into a poster as we do a brand identity – there are no small projects for us. And if we can find the fun in something then we’re able to sell those ideas back to our clients with enthusiasm.
Why did you decide to change your practice name from naughtyfish?
Paul: When we moved to Sydney we found it was very Modernist and pared back in aesthetic and at that stage we just wanted to have our voice be heard. It was about doing something different; being individual and the name seemed to be an expression of that. But Australian design is a lot more expressive now and as we’ve got older and matured we felt there wasn’t really that need to be different in that way any more, plus we always had to explain our name…
Danielle: We were having lots of conversations about why we were called naughtyfish and what we really wanted to be talking about was our work. I guess the idea of the fish that swam against the current was also a reference to having our roots in South Africa and coming to a new place. But we’ve been living here a long time now and the name kind of became irrelevant.
What keeps you motivated?
Paul: We want to uncover the truth and express that truth for our clients within the logistical parameters we’ve been given, and we aim to achieve something visually and functionally special each and every time.
Danielle: We’re always trying to uncover something that will make our clients stand out and allow them to be the best version of themselves they can be. We want them to be successful and we want to give them the tools they need to be great. If a client is confident with the communications material we’ve produced for them and feels empowered by it, then that’s a thrill for us to watch.