In this Designer Interview, we feature Duy Nguyen aka Duy — N who is the creative director of M — N Associates and works alongside partner M — Lan who is the project manager for their creative design studio. Duy and his partner launched their studio in 2015 and stayed out of sight for a while before they published their first portfolio in 2017.
— The Logo Creative™ (@thelogocreative) September 4, 2019
The studio specialises in branding helping their clients create meaningful brands with powerful messages. They believe that great design not only creates sustainable systems but also maintain an intelligent strategy. Their work embraces a diverse range of creative solutions across brand and graphic system, product and packaging, websites and digital experiences, architecture and interior direction.
As Duy explains great design is the result of a meaningful and dialectical relationship, and we can’t do this without the great support form our associations to engage new era of making dreams come true.
Since the studio started they have won a nice little collection of awards including a “Platinum A’ Design Award – Platinum Graphics & Visual Communication Design in 2018 for their visual identity design for Mangata Patisserie Bakery, and A’ Design Awards — Golden Packaging Design for their work for JUS in 2018.
In 2018 they won 3 Graphis Branding 7 awards including x2 silver awards for the work for JUS and Labels and a gold award for Mangata Patisserie Bakery. In 2019 the studio also scored x2 German Design Awards including a packaging winner for their work for JUS and visual identity winner for the work they did for Labels in 2018.
The Logo Creative – Hi Duy, thanks for taking part in the designer interview it’s a pleasure to feature you.
Duy Nguyen – Thank you for inviting me to take part in the interview, it is a great pleasure. I appreciate what you’re working hard for and keep following it daily!
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Duy Nguyen – I was doodling typography back in high school during boring classes. When applying to RMIT Vietnam on Multimedia Design major, there was a series of Graphic Design courses and Film courses, by then I studied how to make ideas come true with a meaningful story.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Duy Nguyen – My day started at 10 am, have breakfast and head to the office if there are no meetings. Sometimes, my partner, Lan, cooks lunch for the whole team to join. Usually, we leave the office at 18:30-19:00 and go home.
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Duy Nguyen – I’m now a morning person, get up for breakfast and get to the office around 10:30 am every day. I used to be a night owl for staying up watching movies or exploring new ideas because the night is so quiet but now I can manage to do it at daytime.
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
Duy Nguyen – My first professional logo was JUS following up with the visual identity system including packaging and interior direction. JUS was one of the first cold-pressed juice brands in Vietnam and it was ranked best in Saigon with great quality and delicious recipes. The minimal yet efficient visual system we designed supports nothing but the product itself to be the star of the brand. Two years after we maintain the brand, we launched the official portfolio and got many awards and published in many prestigious design books, websites, and blogs. The identity made our career fly high.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logo you have designed?
Duy Nguyen – Certainly Mångata Patisserie logo, the subliminal message was represented visually very well. The project made us Platinum Winner for A’ Design Award.
Recently there’s a cool logo I did for a famous local outdoor coffee chain in Vietnam named GUTA. It was a rebrand project to identify what GUTA is in market. The logo was inspired from the Vietnamese street-coffee culture where the iconic plastic chair is always underneath literally.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logos of all time?
Duy Nguyen – My favourite logo of all time is Leman Jewelry, the logo was crafted with many geometric shapes asymmetrically around the 4 claw setting star, the most basic setting to whole a diamond. The brand was one the first haute couture jewelry brand in Saigon specialising in diamonds. Their products embrace the variety of diamond shapes and create different unique jewelry for custom orders. The design was a great representation for their brand, and recently featured on The Logo Community
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Duy Nguyen – Our process starts with a discussion or debate on what the branding should be after we got the brief. And then we gather characteristics into directions and start constructing the logo, it could be a logotype started from a base font or a symbol to iconize the brand. The process is different from every project, depends on the concept we want to achieve.
The Logo Creative – What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
Duy Nguyen – I love our customers’ brands, from our design they really renovate or push the brand to go further into the market. And this taught me a lot when you design something, to think about it deeply in term of customer usage before you start doing anything. Therefore, the result will be more sustainable.
The Logo Creative – What do you consider your most successful design project, and why?
Duy Nguyen – I love all of my projects, but to consider one of my most achievable ones would be labels:. It was my first time to work on a fashion project, so to create a branding that could be sustainable but creative at the same time. We need to do a lot of research about the fashion industry, updating trends and understanding the “want” of the customer in high fashion. Also, we worked closely with the customer team to achieve the full scale of the project from branding materials to the interior direction.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Duy Nguyen – It depends, the process varies depending on the scope of work and how hard it is to achieve the right design for the project. Sometimes it could take years to finish.
The Logo Creative – What are you recommended design books to read?
- Sagmeister: Made You Look by Sagmeister, Manual 1 & 2,
- Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries 1973-1982 by Unit Editions,
- Bauhaus by Magdalena Droste,
- The History of Graphic Design Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Jens Müller,
- Nendo by Nendo,
- Identity Designed by David Airey.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
Duy Nguyen – Adobe programs for sure, easy to manipulate and perfect your design from sketch to perfection. And one more thing is Notes from Apple, it syncs all my quick notes for projects and ideas across my Mac and iPhone, really easy for me to note down anything quickly.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Duy Nguyen – For me, the logo should be sustainable, strong, simple and easily reflects what the brand stands for.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Duy Nguyen – Instagram and Pinterest is a great source for my daily inspiration and daily life, I love to see people around for behaviour acknowledgment, from there, inspiration might come from the very simple habit to create a great brand.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Duy Nguyen – Staying up late for movies or shows and some getaway time for an inspiration trip to another country definitely are my things.
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
Duy Nguyen – The biggest challenge is that Vietnam is still a young market for everything, even for the creative industry. Our works are facing many things, from something happens everywhere like timeline or production problem to personal things like feng-shui belief.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job as a designer?
Duy Nguyen – The best part of this is doing what you love and seeing it come true, especially in Vietnam where executing a brand is harder than you thought.
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Duy Nguyen – I admire my partner, M — Lan, she has what I called “customer eyes” as gifted, something for final round when we need to revise concept one last time to win clients.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite graphic designer and why?
The Logo Creative – What’s your favourite design quote or quote in general, and do you have a mantra or saying you live by?
Duy Nguyen – “Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn” – an ancient Vietnamese quote synonyms to “Travel broadens the mind”.
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Duy Nguyen – For me, especially branding design needs a certain logic to be meaningful for clients and their customers.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Duy Nguyen – My partner and I launched our studio in 2015 and stayed underground for a while before published our portfolio in 2017. We did sacrifice a lot during two years, and also a lot of development, a lot of lessons to learn along the journey, especially how to stand still financially and create quality work in this market.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Duy Nguyen – No, I don’t, by far I’m happy with what we accomplished.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Duy Nguyen – Do not drop English at high school when you’re great at English already, studying design sooner as you can and maybe explore the world sooner.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Duy Nguyen – Study and research harder for every project to make it better and more meaningful.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Duy Nguyen – Every opportunity happens, take it, try to work with as many people as you can, even if eventually, it failed until you could create your own opportunities.