In every Design Around the World interview we do, we ask designers to tell us which studios we should know about from their city or country. This question keeps our trail twisting and turning through different design communities, leading us to discover inspiration and talent outside our own little circle.
It’s refreshing to see designers eagerly share the spotlight with others. We are so focused on promoting our own work, creating our “brand” online and standing out, it’s not often we take the time to simply tell another designer we admire them, or pay them the compliment of sharing their work. Yet nearly every studio in this series doesn’t hesitate to do so.
In our conversation with LIE studio from Kuala Lumpur, they gave us a list of their favorite studios and designers from Malaysia. The Malaysian design community is relatively young and still growing but as you’ll see, there’s no shortage of talent in the country.
A small studio founded in 2011, LIE (Little Ideas Everyday) works across disciplines, from brand identity to book design to environmental design. If you haven’t already read our interview with the LIE founder and art director, Driv Loo, do that next.
And speaking of celebrating other designers’ work, LIE recently published their own book titled “SEARCH,” featuring interviews with 40 graphic design studios from Southeast Asia. We own a copy ourselves, and it’s a beautiful, satisfyingly analog tribute to Malaysian design.
Founded and led by Joanne Chew, Fictionist Studio describes itself as a "multi-disciplinary creative outfit." And multi-disciplinary it is, creating abstract art one day and writing a song to promote its sock designs the next. Unbound by a specific style or service, the studio's work is unpredictable in the best sense of the word.
Sueh Li is a type and graphic designer from Penang. It's fascinating to learn how the curves and lines of a typeface can tell a story, and Sueh Li’s typefaces often speak to Malaysian culture and identity. Her Rakyat typeface, for example, was designed for propaganda posters and celebrates Malaysian multilingualism, while her Kedai-Kedai typeface was inspired by vernacular signages in Malaysia.
Kawakong is a two-person studio focused on graphic and identity design. The studio makes a distinction between “work for others” and “work for us,” sharing person experiments on their site alongside client work. The studios that push themselves outside their client work are often most interesting and memorable, and Kawakong is no exception.
Kongsi is a two-person branding studio based in Kuala Lumpur. The studio describes its personality as “quirky and dreamy” which, in browsing their projects and social media, seems perfectly fitting.
To learn more about design communities outside the go-to New York or San Francisco scenes, catch up on our Design Around the World series, featuring designers in studios from Tel Aviv to Tokyo. And if you know of studios we should have included in this list or you'd like to request a new location in the series, let us know on Twitter.
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!