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Design sits between the culture and the corporate feat. James Horwitz

Design sits between the culture and the corporate feat. James Horwitz

Design sits between the culture and the corporate feat. James Horwitz

Jun.2024

Jun.2024

Jun.2024

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"Family portrait" - Neli Ballestero
"Family portrait" - Neli Ballestero
"Family portrait" - Neli Ballestero

Design sits between the culture and the corporate feat. James Horwitz

I had a brilliant conversation with James Horwitz, Founder of London-based design studio, Two Times Elliott. We got brutally honest, digging into the heart of design, looking at it from both European and US angles, discussing today’s challenges, and how James’s approach drives the studio’s unique problem-solving ethos, striving to avoid the ordinary. Stark differences are easy to notice, but design sits between the culture and the corporate.


D&AD Festival and Awards 2024 Identity

01 US and EU

US design leans towards innovation and making bold statements that capture immediate attention, heavily prioritizing what looks visually striking in the moment. This approach reflects a dynamic and fast-paced culture where trends evolve rapidly, driving designers to push boundaries and create impactful, attention-grabbing visuals.

In corporate America specifically, design takes a back seat, compounded by a widespread lack of understanding regarding what a designer actually is and does. Titles are often given without requisite skills, diluting the profession and resulting in subpar work.

It seems like the prevailing attitude is: “As long as the design meets the basic functional requirements, aesthetics are of little concern.” It's disheartening really because corporate settings drive significant revenue for designers. Is there a solution to this disparity?



Rooted in centuries-old artistic traditions and techniques, European designers value meticulous craftsmanship, timeless aesthetics, and a deep appreciation for history. This heritage-centric approach fosters a sense of continuity and respect for cultural legacies, influencing designs that endure beyond these transient trends.

European design emphasizes quality over quantity, with a focus on detail and precision that speaks to a long-standing tradition of excellence. It’s a nice counterbalance to the fast-paced, trend-driven vibe of modern design.


Silent Songs

02 Today's Challenges

We also tackled today's challenges: economic pressures escalate living costs, squeezing creativity and leading to burnout as designers juggle multiple projects to make ends meet. It's tough out there. We talked about how these pressures make it hard to stay inspired and produce top-notch work. The constant hustle to keep up with bills means there's less time to experiment, take creative risks, or even just breathe and think about the big picture.

Freelancers are more common than ever, but with that comes instability. Without the security of a steady paycheck, many designers are forced to take on too many projects at once, which can dilute the quality of their work, or struggle to find enough projects to stay afloat. James and I mentioned how this can be particularly tough for young designers, especially those who are just starting out and don't have a solid client base yet.

Amidst these challenges, James emphasized the paramount importance of design's meaning and purpose, ensuring that quality and innovation are not compromised.


A Running Commentary (left) & Kettle Kids (right)

03 "I will die on this hill."

James staunchly backs his studio’s approach, prioritizing meaning above all. "I will die on this hill," underscoring his unwavering commitment.

This quite literally shapes Two Times Elliott's unique problem-solving in design, creating resonant solutions that stand out in a competitive landscape. It’s a dedication to meaningful design that sets them apart and gives them a unique edge.

James and his team shared a bunch of their work with me, and let me tell you, it’s beautiful. Each piece circles back to Two Times Elliott, showing how the studio navigates and solves design challenges in a way that feels fresh and genuine. There's a purpose. There's a meaning. There's a story.

Cheers for this one, James.

Credits: Two Times Elliott

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