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Creativity, chaos and counterattacks: Codea Studio on their thoughtful
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Creativity, chaos and counterattacks: Codea Studio on their thoughtful practice

Article by Studio Ground Floor

“We call it the methodology of the unconventional, every project goes through a process in which we try to identify the conventions associated with it, where we recognise our biases and preconceived ideas”

author=Studio Ground Floor% authorlink=,telegraf%

“We call it the methodology of the unconventional,” Codea tells us, diving into the Barcelona-based agency’s design methodology and the adaptability of their creative practice. “Every project goes through a process in which we try to identify the conventions associated with it,” they continue, be it human, social, narrative, or visual, “where we recognise our biases and preconceived ideas,” finding the narratives, patterns and behaviours adjacent to the project itself.

This rigour, so evident across the agency’s work, from creative direction and production to management and design, eptimosies not only the craft behind Codea, but their character, approaching creativity – no matter the industry, theme or persona – with a optimistic, insightful rigour. “We tend to work on projects that are profoundly humanistic and have an impact on our culture,” they add, “we love to bring influences from the underground and editorial to the commercial sphere,” taking graphic design in refreshingly unexpected – and arguably counterintuitive – directions. “Our creative universe is inevitably influenced by mass culture,” Codea concludes, “and we believe we have a responsibility to reassess and challenge our approach to projects.”

Speaking more to the minds behind Codea, we discuss type, humour and how they designed a world for Off Type’s latest typeface, OT Bulb.

You have such a robust, meticulous understanding of typography yet seem unafraid to mess around with it. What role does type play in the work you do? How do you go about picking the right typeface?

We always make sure that our typographic choices have a conceptual aspect. At Codea, we are not purists; in fact, none of the partners are graphic designers. This has allowed us to distort typefaces, modify them, and even ruin them. We like to create combinations that challenge the norms. Ultimately, what’s most important is what we mentioned at the beginning: we force ourselves to justify the choice conceptually and not focus solely on style or aesthetics.

CODEA’s work is incredibly detailed, with a clear conceptual approach that underlies each and every project. That said, there is also a clear sense of humour too, which makes the work feel so fun. Is play important to the studio? Is it part of your creative philosophy?

Absolutely. We believe humour is indispensable in finding unconventional solutions. Since the agency’s creative director doesn’t know I’m responding to this, I can admit that we don't always allow ourselves to use humour in everything – though if it were up to him, we would (Hi, Ricard 👋).

We employ self-awareness, absurdity, humour, counterattacks, and randomness as tools for navigating our own lives, and we bring these into our projects. We also integrate our philias for music, literature, and cinema while channelling our phobias. We try to generate spaces for experimentation and some digital detox within our day-to-day in the studio; we’re still working on it. All work and no play makes CODEA a dull job!

Let’s chat about the work you did for OT Bulb! It’s so slick. What was the core idea behind it?

We tried to convey the main idea behind the typeface by establishing an assortment of graphical elements linked with its main characteristics: lightbulbs are represented through flickering effects, repetition and heavy colour contrast, while graphic elements such as ASCII illustrations, pixelated dots and scan lines are scattered all over the compositions to amplify the analogue-digital visual language.

We approached the type from a more editorial viewpoint since it draws inspiration from old punch printers. This allowed us to do some clean, detail-driven compositions showcasing different uses of Bulb, both maximalistic and minimalistic. Adding these small details to bolder weights, we tried to create a sense of layering that highlighted the special feeling Bulb conveys.

Although you might be biased towards Bulb, do you have a favourite font from the Pangram Pangram/Off Type catalogue?

We couldn’t pick just one! A good pairing to our creative chaos in the quest for balance would be Telegraf for its elegance and Räder for its strong yet refined personality.

Anything fun on the horizon? What can we expect from CODEA in 2024 and onwards?

Way too much! We have much to learn from young people entering the industry and are keen to stay connected with them. We also aim to share the tools and knowledge we’ve acquired over the past ten years. Therefore, we are dedicating more time to build educational programs. As our international presence expands, we plan to grow our activities, so expect to see us more often in the UK!