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All work, all play: Mat Desjardins on Pangram Playground and how to de
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All work, all play: Mat Desjardins on Pangram Playground and how to design your own brand

Article by Studio Ground Floor

Meet you at swings! A sit down chat with Pangram Pangram's founder, Mat Desjardins, discussing their latest endeavour; Pangram Playground

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From its typographic origins, defined by meticulous attention to detail and practical rigour, Pangram Playground emerges. Effortlessly combining the worlds of work and play into a space entirely new. Welcome to the Pangram Playground!

Recently launched as a sister brand to Pangram Pangram, the Playground opens up an entirely new experimental digital space with physical (and phenomenal) products, courtesy of Mat Desjardins, the foundry’s visionary founder. Here, together with his crack team of collaborators, they’ve brought to life a creative universe that throws out the notion of mistakes, tripping up, and travelling down the wrong path, instead proposing a different perspective. A playground, on which to play, fall over and freely experiment.

In our chat, Mat delves into the genesis of Pangram Playground – a significant shift from the comfortable world of digital type foundry to experimental – and the movement to physical realms, a shift rooted in the desire to nurture and cross-pollinate different fields. Sitting down, we discuss forthcoming collaborations, future hopes, and the importance of trying to ‘create what you want to see in the world’.

Hey Mat! Exciting times and congrats on the release of the first collection over on the Pangram Playground! How are you feeling about it?

Hey guys!! Thank you! Always a pleasure to dig deeper into one of our many projects! It’s been a very fun and challenging process. If PP Studio was the caterpillar, Pangram Playground is the butterfly.

I’ve wanted to branch out from the digital into the physical for a while and Pangram Playground is the realisation of that vision. I’m more than happy and excited with the result. The brand, the tone, the ideas and concept are all an extension of my personal experience and lifestyle.

Thus is just the beginning with this new branch of the ever growing PP ecosystem, there are a lot more things coming to Playground!

What inspired you to create Pangram Playground, and how does the typographic world of Pangram Pangram influence it?

I wanted to have a space to create things, objects, art, outside of the confines of the digital world of Pangram Pangram and Off Type. I think the idea came from the desire to create those things. “Create what you want to see in the world” they say. This is exactly what I want to do.

Pangram Pangram is the springboard for it, the foundation. Playground is and will always be a brand by designers for designers and in that sense will always have a strong typographic sense. Typography is present in all our lives and Playground won’t be the exception.The fact there’s a foundry behind the scene will only make it that much more relevant. I have a strong feeling our type/design community will appreciate that.

The maxim "play is the highest form of research" is at the core. Could you delve deeper into the concept of merging work and play within Pangram Playground's ethos?

When doing all the research and testing for the brand, we actually discovered that more often than not, the process dictates the result. The research, the discoveries. For me, when I have some time to do some research, find some references, make moodboards, I put on some music and I just drift away in this aspect of the creative process. It’s the moment when everything is possible. It’s a form of play.

We decided to embrace this part of the process and make it the ethos. Researching for our brand, the actual research became the brand. It made so much sense on a graphic design stand point. The process is (the) Playground, the research, the behind the scene, the work done before the work is done. The blueprint of every design project. The playfulness of every beginning.

Throughout our research, we came across this quote by Einstein: “Play is the highest form of research” — after all of this, it just made sense! It also reminded us of a time when we were kids playing while learning, learning by playing.

“Quick Over Lazy” was another one of our taglines. This is our “Just Do It” line because I really believe that doing is greater than thinking, it’s something I apply to my personal life everyday. Also, it’s a little nod to the typographic world. Again, it just clicked.

How do you see Pangram Playground challenging the traditional boundaries of graphic, industrial, and fashion design? What elements would you like to see crossover?

All of them! It might sound like something you already heard but I really want to bring my interpretation of all of these disciplines to life. On top of typography and graphic design, I love art, architecture, industrial design, fashion, music and cars (oh and coffee). I want to create beautiful, meaningful and aesthetic things around those passions and Playground is just the “Playground” for that.

Expect to see a range of different ideas and a few surprises.

Pangram Playground emphasises forging experiences over just creating objects. How do you think this philosophy will translate into your future products?

The first Chapter of this journey is entitled “Play at Work” and there are a lot of interpretations we have in mind for this. From curating your work environment to giving you tools to help your creative process the “play” experience will be in there somewhere.

We ask ourselves: How can you play at work? Alternatively also: How can you Work at Play? Asking the question creates a space in the person’s mind, prompts a reflection, a (self)reply. Do I play at work? Do I make the effort of playing?

Playground’s ethos wants to help you challenge those internal paradigms.

Moving from a digital to a more physical world is quite the shift. What does the design process look like for creating products? How has it been creating bespoke products, rather than a more typical merch-like process of buying blanks?

It’s been a huge learning experience. Thanks to Gildas and Messan Studios, we were able to make this whole process quite easier! But, as one can imagine, it’s a totally different process from finding suppliers, making samples, printing, labels, etc… There’s a lot more involved than just creating a typeface in Glyphs alone in front of your computer!

It’s been a very interesting and fun process. The best part is to actually bring an idea into the physical world like you guys did with the PP32 book!

Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you're particularly excited about?

Yes! Like I mentioned, we have a lot of ideas for the coming year (hopefully we have time to do them all!). Without spoiling the surprise too much there might be some jewelry in the works, another item that will be playable and maybe a bouncy castle down the line!

How do you envision Pangram Playground evolving and growing in the future?

We have a few things planned but I want it to grow organically and not frame it too much. I want this to feel like an evolving art installation that can be anything, take any shapes or form.

Not sure where it will go but it’s exciting! It feels right!

And lastly, what’s your favourite piece on the Playground right now?

Hmmm good question! For the first official drop, I wanted to create a substantial garment and accessories collection just to set the tone that it’s not just going to be a “cap every 2 months” type of brand.

In that sense, we put a lot of thought into each piece and each graphic design that was printed on them. One thing I wanted was to want to wear all of them, which worked! Buuut if I had to choose one, I’d say the “Quick Over Lazy” Long Sleeve tee.

Oh, and one more, favourite piece of playground equipment? I’d like a swing myself.

Hmmmm, I’d say a slide! They usually have nice colors and I like the shapes, edges and curves of them!

Get playing! Check out the Playground here.

PP Playground Script is coming soon too!