This interview with me first appeared on Obeymagazine.com (http://www.obeymagazine.com/all-of-bach-website/)
Recently I stumbled on the new All of Bach website. Allofbach.com is an initiative of the Netherlands Bach Society, the leading Bach ensemble in the world. In anticipation of it’s 100th anniversary in 2021, the Netherlands Bach Society decided to record all of Johan Sebastian Bach’s work. Fabrique was asked to create a platform to make all this available for the public. Sanne Wijbenga was responsible for the Art Direction behind this project. Sanne is known for the work he did for Allerhande and Rijksmuseum (good for 8 awards). There must be some kind of secret behind all these stunning results. Sanne Wijbenga takes you through the design process of the ‘All of Bach’ so we can hopefully find out his secret.
Can you give us a short brief bio about yourself?
Sure! My name is Sanne Wijbenga and I am a dutch creative. I studied Illustration at the Utrecht School of Arts and quickly discovered interactivity. When I finished Art School I was everything except an illustrator which made me take a job at Studio Dumbar, a very classic Dutch graphic design agency in Rotterdam. I joined their just founded interactive team there. After five wonderful years it was time for something new. Online design agency Fabrique just started their Amsterdam department and since I moved to Amsterdam at the end of my studies this was a perfect fit. I stayed at Fabrique for six and a half years as an Art Director and Creative Strategist and helped build up the Amsterdam department. Again a great company to work at, they gave me a lot of freedom and possibilities to develop myself. I did some very nice projects for wonderful clients such as The Rijksmuseum and Allerhande. A couple of weeks ago I moved to Munich in Germany and I am now looking for a suitable next challenge.
Can you give us a short brief about the assignment?
So the Netherlands Bach Society is basically the leading Bach ensemble in the world. In 2021 they will have their 100th birthday. To celebrate this they decided to record all of the work of Johan Sebastian Bach. And when I say all, I am talking about more than a 1000 pieces… Fabrique was asked to create a platform called ‘All of Bach’ to make all of these recordings available to the public. And needless to say make the public enjoy and understand Bach even more.
What did you guys do for your inspiration?
We started off of course by really trying to understand the client. We went with the entire team (tech, design, account, project etc) to some concerts to at least try to understand more of Bach, the Netherlands Bach Society and their public. To inspire the designers I love using Pinterest. I always make a private Pinterest board with inspiration. That can be anything: online magazines, rich content websites, poster design, but also photography or architecture. I use this to communicate the idea I have in which direction I think the project should go. But at the same time I want to leave space for Esther Jong, our talented visual designer to be able to do her own thing, we found this a good way to work together.
Can you step us through your process from idea to completion?
We started off with a couple of brainstorms with interaction designer Rose-Anne Dotinga. After that we had an entire room with prints, ideas, rough sketches etc. We talked the clients through these sketches and ideas to see which directions really fit. The direction we chose was that of a weekly updated online magazine, where each edition contains the original recording of the piece and the beautiful stories around it. These stories give historical context to the work, opinions of musicians, or ask the public to participate. After refining this concept we started designing things. Interaction design and Visual design at the same time. After the first real design presentation things went pretty quick. We started building things while we were still designing. We made a little scrum board (‘to do’, ‘doing’, ‘done’) to make sure the entire team knew who was doing what. After we build the first things we had a usability test, which always helps a lot! Refined a bit, did another one and then went live.
Can we see some early sketches/visuals?
Sure, I have some photos of the output of the first brainstorm which might be interesting to see. You see some of the ideas in very early form and also the first visual direction we worked on.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement within this project?
I personally think the biggest achievement is that we made something fresh and contemporary, both in look and feel as in concept and interaction. And doing so without alienating the Bach public, which is key of course. This is particularly hard when you have to work with this sort of topic. The visual style quickly leans to the cliches you associate with classical music: hardly any colour, boring serif typography, predictable interaction, that kind of stuff. I am proud that we were able to stay away from that.
People who are curious, hungry to learn and are driven achieve the most in my personal experience!
What did you learn the most about this project?
A lot of the lessons I learn, I have to learn more than once ;-). In this case the most important thing I learned is that it is essential to involve all disciplines from the beginning of the process. In this way everybody has their say and has the feeling of ownership of the project. That makes you far more effective in the end of the project.
What is your advice for youngsters that want to accomplish the same as you did?
I think the most important thing is to stay curious. At Fabrique I always tried to hire young designers with the right attitude, not so much for talent or the perfect portfolio. People who are curious, hungry to learn and are driven achieve the most in my personal experience!
With that last questions this interview came to an end. For the students that read this article. Remember that you stay curious and have the right attitude. If you have more questions towards Sanne. You can always send him a messages through his Twitter account. Underneath you will find the designs of the result. Go to AllofBach.com for the full experience.
The complete project description can be found at http://www.sannewijbenga.com/work/#/all-of-bach/