Behind the Studio – Simone Costa
Behind the Studio, where we look closer to home and find out more about the people behind Nomad, this time with Simone Costa, Designer.
What’s your journey in the industry so far?
I started my journey into design in Portugal, I went to an art school there that offered education in specialised art fields. I didn’t even know graphic design was a choice until I was trying it out and fell in love with this world of creativity. From there I went to a university in the UK – Norwich University of the Arts, to study Graphic Communication. My initial plan was to graduate and return to Portugal to work, but found that the industry here was much bigger, with so many more opportunities and at this point, England just felt more like home so I decided to stay forever.
After graduating I went through the usual route of trying to find internships in London. I spent a few months interning at some really great places and some not so great ones. Through the not so great ones, I learned a lot about the industry and what I really wanted from a job. I found out about Nomad through one of the really great internships, they thought I would love the work and culture here, so I contacted Nomad and turned out they were absolutely right.
I interned at Nomad for a year, through the ups and downs of Covid, and was offered a permanent position at the end of 2020, which I couldn’t have been happier about.
Do you have a favourite piece of design?
My favourite piece of design is arguably the worst designed object I’ve ever seen. It’s a teapot in which the handle is directly under where you pour the tea from, which makes the object completely unusable and useless.
I first came across it on the cover of a book – The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, which is about how design can define the experience of interacting with objects and your daily life. I never finished the book, but the image of that completely unusable teapot always stayed with me and I've always found it the perfect metaphor and reminder of what we try to accomplish with design.
Sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with trying to make things cool, unexpected and trying to come up with something different that stands out. But this teapot and the big design failure it is, always reminds me of what design is really about at the end of the day.
Do you collect anything, if so what and why?
I’m very proud and passionate about my little but always growing collection of editions of the book 1984 by George Orwell. It’s my favourite book of all time, and I remember how when I first wanted to read it, it took me weeks to figure out which edition I should get. I’m very picky with my book collection, I love selecting the best edition of each book and I even order them from different corners of the world if needed, but when it came to this one, I found every single cover brilliant. And since I ended up becoming obsessed with the book, I decided to collect as many covers as I could.
My favourite is designed by David Pearson, it follows the classic orange cover penguin edition, but with a twist- the title and author are blacked out, which plays perfectly into the concept of the story in a simple, smart and very visually appealing way. But my collection features all types, illustrated special editions, the ones you always find at the bookstore, vintage ones, and really tacky ones. I love them all, even the horrible ones always seem to have something really special and fascinating about them that adds to the story.
What was the last book you couldn’t put down?
I apologise for turning most of the questions into a book-related one so far, but I am a massive bookworm.
The last book I couldn’t put down was The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It’s a Russian classic and it was the wildest of journeys. I’ve never read anything quite like, as weird as it sounds it’s a satire featuring Satan and his friends (including a massive walking cat called Behemoth that can do everything a human can) wreaking havoc in Moscow. It’s a surreal read and unlike any fiction book, you usually would come across.
This was wild, chaotic in the best possible way and just a fantastic read overall. I didn't expect this to be as fun as it was. I was constantly laughing at the dumbest things and couldn't even attempt to guess where the story was going at any given point.
I will be naming my future cat after Behemoth, that’s how much this book stayed with me.
What does being creative mean to you?
This is one of those questions I’ve never actually been able to answer. Every time someone asks me this it ends up haunting me for days. I don’t know, I think it changes depending on what I need to be creative about. But maybe when it comes down to it it’s about thinking and coming up with a solution for whatever I need, often in an unconventional way. Whether it’s about how to communicate an idea or feeling visually through design, or how to open a wine bottle without a bottle opener, the creative muscle is always the essential one.