How to kickstart a design studio in a vibrant Asian hub with Readymag

Readymag is used literally all over the world. This time we spoke to Alice Mourou, co-founder of Hong Kong-based Oddity studio, which creates design identities for chic Hong Kong startups and fashion boutiques as well as pan-Asian financial institutions. Alice uses Readymag for web projects whenever it’s not possible to implement advanced coding. Her story goes like this.

I moved to Hong Kong three years ago. At that time I was invited to be part of the Awwwards jury, organised the first Behance portfolio reviews in Hong Kong, and decided to work as an independent art director. I never intended to open my own studio — it just organically happened over time and one day I realized we were a team of ten.

Hong Kong is spoiled with cheap template development. At the same time Hong Kong style is “everything now” — no one wants to wait. It’s rare to find a client who appreciates quality design work and respects the design process. As a result, design agencies are in a constant rush.

I believe that Oddity studio happened because we ignored market standards. We rebel against templates.

That’s when we discovered Readymag: a tool that helps us achieve exactly what we want. We are not limited by a grid — layouts can be anything we want, there’s a big library of beautiful typefaces, and of course animation, which can be accomplished without front-end development.

One of our first projects was a landing for the Behance Portfolio reviews event in Hong Kong. As an organiser I had to secure a space, book speakers, invite guests, and promote the event — all on my own. Since it was the first Behance Portfolio review in Hong Kong I wanted to be ambitious and make it big. However, I’d just moved to Hong Kong and had zero contacts in the local design community.

Originally I drafted a website in Sketch and shared it with a front-end developer friend, who estimated it would take about one and a half months to build. I was tempted to try Readymag instead since the event in a month.

This project helped me attract speakers, as they appreciated my work and were interested to meet in person and participate. With a bit of promotion on Facebook we received more than 250 registrations through the website in a few weeks. We succeeded with the event and I succeeded in introducing myself to the community.

For us, typography is a must. You might not have illustrations or photography in a project but you always have typeface and color. And just with these a designer is able to create unique layouts in millions of combinations. The right typeface can create a look that’s mature or bold or classy or pop — anything you want. Isn’t it awesome?

The selection of a typeface for a project is always a magical moment. Typography is not random, or merely the designer’s personal taste. For me it’s always based on a rational brief. Once the direction is set it’s about budget as well. For example, startups won’t spend money on the purchase of a typeface for a website. That’s where Google fonts help a lot, as well as cloud subscriptions like Typekit or Monotype. And that’s what Readymag offers — a great library of typefaces already built in.

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