SWIWI - Designer Love
Hoi (Swiss for Kia Ora)! To Joerg (Jörg) Agostini and Nicole Fehlmann, a Swiss couple gone Noozilid down to the boardies in Dunners. Joerg and Nicole live together and work together. I’m talking every day, people. Don’t know about you, but I can hardly stand the sight of myself most mornings, so struggle to imagine running a successful international design company with my Snugglebumpkins. What if you’re having a sh*t day and you hate each other? “Then you hate each other,” says Joerg. “There’s always plenty of work to be done, either way,” says Nicole. They started SWIWI Design (Swiss Kiwi – which makes me think of a kiwifruit covered in chocolate, or gumboots on snow) specialising in design for anything print or web, in January 2014 and have been together 10 years this January. “We start everything in January,” says Nicole.
They had bumps to begin with: “It’s called passion isn’t,” says Joerg. “It’s not a bad thing,” until they decided to play to each other’s strengths. Nicole specialises in meeting deadlines and translating what the client says into shapes and forms with a mind to their target market. Joerg brings the conceptual design and words to go with the shapes. However, someone has to be the boss. Do they take turns? “No!” says Joerg, with a look of what might be panic but could be adoration. “Nicole’s the boss.”
“I don’t want to be a mean boss!” says Nicole. “You’re not,” says Joerg.
As a couple, they benefit from couple shorthand: get what the other means a lot quicker than the average hot-desking strangers and they work on projects together as much as they can. “And we always check each other’s work.” How do they deal with the double-edged sword that is ‘constructive criticism’? “You always put a bit of yourself into your work so it’s hard not to take it personally,” says Joerg. “For the relationship it can be rough.”
Cuckoo clocks and yodelling (neither of which I saw much evidence of), however, Switzerland is not famous for surfing, and once Joerg started, their 9 years in Queenstown were history – Nicole missed the vibe of a city and while they didn’t know too much about Dunedin, friends said, “you’re going to love it.” They’re still in the honeymoon phase, exploring the beaches and the culture; getting to know the ‘here’ while most of their clients are over there: London, Switzerland. “It’s amazing where being a designer can get you,” says Joerg, “all you need is space and a computer and internet.”
Plus, at the end of the day, you can go catch a wave? “Mate.” says Joerg. And you know the minute you hear someone from Switzerland say ‘Mate’, our work as a country is done.
Post submitted by Lisa Scott
Photo credit Sharron Bennett