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Weekly Mix: TSTO

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This week we’re hearing from designer Matti Kunttu of TSTO, who tells us about creating visual identities for clients in the music business. In the spirit of democracy, the TSTO team organized a musical jury that chose the best pieces for the Weekly playlist.

How are you?
Ha ha, I’m fine, thanks!

You’ve carried out several projects for the music business and various artists, such as Iisa and Regina. How do you include the artist’s music in your design?

We always strive to think what their music would look like visually and what feelings their songs provoke. The main thing is, however, to have a dialogue with the artist and learn about their personal experience of the music and its visual aspects. In addition, we think it’s important to consider their image, personality and style. For example, if the artist is very commercial, we need to consider how to differentiate their style in the stores.


What about with other clients; does music play a role in creative design?
Yes, it does, a lot. All of us here at the office have different tastes in music, and we listen to music mainly through headphones. We each work with very different projects, so different music works for different projects. For example, when I’m doing layout, I browse a lot of text, and I’ve noticed it’s hard to listen to Finnish lyrics, or anything with lots of lyrics, at the same time, because that side of the brain is reserved for the actual work. In these type of situations it’s best to listen to instrumental music or incomprehensible lyrics.

What kind of songs are incomprehensible to you?
Lately I’ve listened to lots of Japanese music and Arabic funk from the 1970s and 1980s! Such as Habibi Funk Records.

Is there something you cannot play at the office? Something you all hate?
Not really. As said before, we all have our own tastes, but all genres include something interesting that will sink in. We usually find consensus among very different preferences.

Which band would y’all be if you could choose?
Beastie Boys. It reflects our way of working: no virtuoso music-making but productive and experimental. They too have one Buddhist in the band.

Name one classic that never wears out.
J Dilla: Workinonit. That’s a great power song!

How did TSTO end up across the Atlantic in New York?
Ha ha, it’s a love story, really. One of our partners, Jonatan Eriksson, moved there in 2011 to be with his sweetheart, graphic designer Lotta Nieminen. He did other work at first but decided to resign and fully devote himself to TSTO again. Currently we carry out projects back and forth between Helsinki and New York. Jonatan takes care of all the accounts and correspondence at that end and Antti and me here in Helsinki.

How does the spring look for TSTO? What kind of projects are you looking at?
We’re a small office, so we want to be a bit selective regarding assignments. It’s a strategic decision which enables working only with projects and clients that are genuinely interesting to us and deserve our backing.
One of our most topical works is Artek’s flagship store in Japan. We’re responsible for its final look. The store is still under construction and to be opened during the spring. They wanted it to look unique, yet comply with Artek’s identity. It turned out a version of the Helsinki store in a way.
We’re also working on this summer’s Flow Festival, with which we’ve had long-term cooperation.

In the Weekly Mix series we address the importance of music in creative work. You can listen to the Weekly Spotify list here.



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