At home with Michael Wolff

The latest issue of YCN’s members’ magazine features an interview with Wolff Olins co-founder Michael Wolff. To accompany the article, YCN has also released a short film shot at the designer’s home in North London…

Directed by Ed Andrews, the film features a glimpse of Wolff’s home studio and some of the artworks and artefacts he has collected over the years, from a leopard created by collage artist Peter Clark to a 1966 cover of Paris’ Match magazine commemorating the death of Walt Disney, and a head and hand of Frank Spencer by sculptor Wilfrid Wood.

He also offers some words of wisdom for designers and reflects on the importance of creating design with real purpose and value: “It’s very easy as a designer to think what you like is what’s right but actually, what’s right is more important than what you think is right”, he says, adding: “If [design] doesn’t bring joy, if it doesn’t satisfy people in some way or delight them, or improve the quality of their lives, I can’t see the point of it.”

The film accompanies an interview written by Sarah Snaith and published in the Winter Issue of YCN’s magazine, in which Wolff reflects on lessons learned from 50 years designing communications for clients. Snaith’s article is featured alongside a photoshoot with Wolff, shot by photographer Nick Ballon in Regent’s Park:

Also in the issue, designed and art directed by Alex Hunting, is a look at four studio partnerships, including A Practice for Everyday Life’s co-founders Emma Thomas and Kirsty Carter as well as Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh and an article on Ballon’s latest project documenting some extraordinary architecture in the Bolivian city El Alto, plus illustrations by Alice Bowsher, La Tigre, Jordy van den Nieuwendijk and Joe Cruz.

“Those big buildings, you know, they look like some of the miniatures we used to make years ago. Who knows, maybe the people who own them have been faithful to the Ekeko and have asked for their houses to be built just like that.” – Don Ruben

The Ekeko is the Andean god of all small things bringing abundance and prosperity to those with enough faith.

El Alto is a Bolivian city that is slowly creating its own identity. The city’s growth can be seen as the product of mass migration from rural and mining regions following the crisis that arose after Bolivia’s neoliberal reforms in the 80’s and 90’s. The city’s inhabitance are largely made up of indigenous Aymara people. With these populations undergoing a rapid urbanisation process, it is not surprising to find their architecture conveys their history and culture, as well as their quest to establish a hybrid identity, which is true to their roots yet adapted to their modernised setting.

Adapted text by Amaru Villanueva Rance
Still-life models photographed by Jonathan Minster

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For details or to order a copy (priced at £6) see