We had the good fortune of connecting with Berger & Föhr and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Berger & Föhr, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking?
Risk-taking is central to our practice. We thrive on uncertainty. Given the experimental nature of our studio, we’re frequently exploring the edges of our discipline. We like this approach. It keeps us on our toes and in a “beginners” sort of mindset. While most of our failures are a function of risk-taking, so too are all of our successes.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We met in the middle of a downtown Boulder, Colorado street eighteen years ago. We’ve been working side by side, shoulder to shoulder, ever since. Our commitment to our partnership is arguably more important than our commitment to our craft. It’s what binds us and keeps us centered. But, it’s the merger of our ideas and how we manifest those ideas that inform our process and bring clarity and nuance to our work.

Historically speaking, we’ve been adapting, iterating, and evolving throughout our careers. We’ve had three design studios, Dogtail Design, Cypher13, and now Berger & Föhr. We owned and operated an art gallery/boutique we ran in tandem with Cypher13 called JoyEngine, and we founded a startup called Ello, providing an experimental community for artists & designers.

For the first decade+, we worked seven days a week and very long hours. It took us at least that long to discover how much more productive we could be by working smarter and doing less with a more explicit focus. But, we needed to cut our teeth. Our grind-it-out mindset has enabled us to overcome a great many challenges, primarily by brute force. We continue to hold the idea that one has to be willing to put in the work and do what’s necessary to advance one’s vision. We remain grounded in what we consider solid, values-based guiding principles to help us navigate the tricky, sometimes critical decisions along the way.

Our graphic design and artwork are the byproducts of working as “one” and sharing authorship and ownership of everything we create. It’s an atypical approach but a worthwhile one. The duality inherent to our practice is what makes our work distinctive. Everything is born of two minds working symbiotically and synergistically in unison. It’s a special feeling to know you have a fully reliable and always inspirational creative partner.

The future, while dark in the near-term, remains bright. Few things worthwhile in life come easy. The last year has highlighted this, much more than those of the recent past. And, when you’re seeking to explore the edges and discover new territory, the road can be extra bumpy. We like this sort of alternative path. We seek it out, embrace uncertainty and navigate the worlds of art and design from a place of hopefulness and untapped opportunity. We aim to imbue our work with a similarly profound sensibility as we move forward, embracing the unknown.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Colorado’s front range is a unique and magical place. Even if one were to constrain themselves to the greater Boulder/Denver area, the possibilities for outdoor adventure and exploration-fueled enjoyment are endless. Natural splendor mostly aside, we’d take a friend on a tour of some of Colorado’s leading alternative thinkers/doer’s studios, workshops, and art spaces, concluding with outings to some of Colorado’s most influential local, regional and global art institutions.

We’d begin by heading straight from DIA to visit Tran and Josh Wills of Base Coat Nail Salon (https://basecoatnailsalon.com/), Matriarch Mercantile (https://www.matriarchmercantile.com/), and Consume & Create (https://www.consumeandcreate.co/) design studio to experience the true meaning of hustle-fueled community-mindedness and raw creative output. We’d then visit Rick Griffith’s Matter studio/print shop (https://morematter.com/) and Jason Wedekind’s studio, Ghengis Kern (https://www.genghiskern.com/), for a mind-expanding tour of all things letterpress. From there, we’d visit conceptual artist Joel Swanson at his studio, followed by a stop at David B. Smith’s eponymous gallery (https://www.davidbsmithgallery.com/).

Shifting gears into the realm of conceptual, ecologically-minded architecture and design, we’d visit Mike Moore and the team at Tres Birds (https://tresbirds.com/). A visit to David Larabee and Dexter Thornton’s DoubleButter furniture studio (https://www.doublebutter.com/) is a must, followed by a stop at Harrison Nealey’s Industrial Arts fabrication studio (https://industrial-arts.co/). We’d spend some time with Jason Thielke (https://www.jasonthielke.com/) and Lui Ferreyra (https://www.luiferreyra.com/), two of our all-time favorite Colorado artists. After which, we’d head back into town and take a tour of some of Denver’s best public works, seeking murals by Markham Maes aka Shitty Kitten (https://www.instagram.com/shittykitten1), Sandra Fettingis (https://www.sfettingis.com/), Scot Lefavor (https://www.instagram.com/scotlefavor), and The Worst Crew, Jaime Molina & Pedro Barrios (https://www.theworstcrew.com/).

We’d round this whirlwind aesthetically-driven cultural tour out with stops at MCA Denver (https://mcadenver.org/), The Denver Art Museum (https://www.denverartmuseum.org/) the masterful Clyfford Still Museum (https://clyffordstillmuseum.org/), and a lengthy visit to the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art (https://www.kirklandmuseum.org/) for a deep dive into local and regional art/design history. Heading back into Boulder, we’d visit the studios of close friends, photographer/artist Jamie Kripke (http://www.jamiekripke.com/), painter Sarah Kinn (http://sarahkinn.com/), and uber-conceptualist Joseph Shaeffer (https://www.studiojosephshaeffer.com/). After some downtime to catch our collective breath and recharge, we’d conclude with a day in Lucian’s hometown of Lyons, Colorado, spent visiting Barbara & Bud Shark of Shark’s ink (https://sharksink.com/), extraordinary publishing and printmaking studio.

After all that, we’d bring it back to nature and take a slow, glorious hike through Boulder’s Chautauqua Park, exploring our world-renowned Flatirons heading south to Eldorado Springs, where we’d dip in the Eldo’s naturally spring-fed pool. Lounging poolside, we’d begin the inspirational journey of absorbing and processing all the ideas and distinctly individual works so generously shared.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We benefit immensely from a supportive, thoughtful, and talented Colorado-based creative peer group and a deep, global client roster composed of bright, experienced individuals. All of whom have significantly informed our craft, overarching practice, and process. But, if we were to recognize one individual for having an outsized impact on our career trajectory and overwhelming body of thought, it would have to be Massimo Vignelli. A designer who doesn’t need further recognition but deserves every ounce of continued praise he receives. It was Massimo’s overarching philosophy, coupled with his acknowledgment and belief in the idea that “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.”; that’s been most influential on our studio philosophy.

Website: https://bergerfohr.com/ & https://bergerfohr.art/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bergerfohr/

Linkedin: linkedin.com/company/berger-&-föhr/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BergerFohr

Image Credits
bergerfohr-31.jpg — Photo credit: Beau Walters, https://www.instagram.com/beauwalters/ & https://www.beauwalters.com/ The rest of the images provided were shot and are owned by Berger & Föhr

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