They called it For Design, and Semplice proudly sponsored their trip to make sure they have the tools they need. Now they’re back, so we reached out to see how things went and see what’s up next for this ambitious design duo.
The idea was simple. Ana & Tiago (originally from Portugal) travel the world and offer their design skills in return for other services and goods, instead of money.
When I heard about this idea, I immediately feel in love with it. This isn't just about traveling and seeing the world, but also about setting your own priorities. It's looking at Design from a different angle and asking questions such as: Can we offer our design skills for something else than money? What if money wouldn't exist?
What's interesting about this approach is that trading our skills for something else than money will automatically open up so many more possibilities. Chances are high that we end up working with people & companies we would have otherwise never met.
Maybe even the way of how we work together changes entirely, because we're much closer and more invested in a particular project.
Ana & Tiago are a young design couple and only scratching the surface with this concept, but I hope many others will follow and take this idea even further. Especially if you're young, this is probably one of the best ways to get better at what yo do.
Tell us the idea behind “For Design” in one sentence.
Tiago: We want to make design available to anyone by giving the opportunity to people who don’t have the money to invest in it.
Between all your trips for this project, what’s the weirdest trade you made? What’s your dream trade, if you could partner with anyone, anywhere?
Tiago: We actually didn’t have any weird trades because we always exchanged for food and a place to stay. But we did receive some weird applications. One person wanted to give us a lawn mower for a website and we were going to accept it, but he didn’t answer the phone. Another one wanted to give us Portuguese lessons (our native language) in exchange for a website.
Ana: Our dream trade… design a branding for a surf company in Japan in exchange for a house to stay, located right on the beach with perfect waves!
What did you spend money on throughout your travels that you couldn’t get for trade? Were there gaps in work, when you worried about finding a place to stay or food to eat?
Ana: Yes, we spent a lot of money in the gaps between work, and all the fuel we had pay from our pocket. We converted our van to save as much as possible during this trip. In Spain and France, we slept near the beach without spending any money.
Speaking of the van, how was it working and designing in such tight quarters? Did you experience any friction or disagreements when working together?
Tiago: Work in the van was maybe the biggest adventure. We didn’t have as much space as we wanted but we learned to be more practical and live with less. Spending 24 hours a day together for four months was also a challenge, but we never experienced any disagreements or friction when it came to working.
Is trading for design sustainable, beyond a short-term project? How could other designers do something similar while still making a living?
Ana: If there is no gap between work and if you find a way to go places without spending any money, yes, it’s possible. People need to stop thinking about the value of money and find what they really want, because the most valuable things are what you need and want the most.
"People need to stop thinking about the value of money and find what they really want."
We see that you used Semplice for most of the web projects on your trip. Assuming the majority of websites you made weren’t necessarily portfolios, how did Semplice hold up to the challenge?
Tiago: Semplice was a great help for us. Without it, it would be impossible to do websites in such a short time. Since Semplice is built with portfolios in mind, we just used a little bit of code to pass a few limitations.
Now that the project is completed, what’s next? Any ideas to take this project to the next level? Would you like to see other designers taking your idea and doing something similar?
Tiago: We don’t want to stop this project at all. We believe that if we give a way to others designers do it, we can reach people from all around the world. Our idea is to develop a platform where designers and clients can apply to bring design to as many people as possible.
"We believe that anyone has the potential to change the world, and designers can help them to achieve their goals."
You’re both into surfing. Answer fast: Would you trade a year of design for one guaranteed perfect, magical wave?
Ana: No doubt 😛
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Follow Ana & Tiago's journey: For Design
Thank you for reading, Tobias
Hi, I'm Tobias, a German designer living in New York. I'm the author of this blog, nice to meet you!