Studio Last: Matthias Last, right, Sarah Bernauer (Co-Founder of Studio Last & Blake and Vargas), Mike Kanne, (Designer Studio Last). Photography Robin Kater

Interview with Matthias Last

Matthias Last is a designer & art director, founder of Studio Last and co-founder of Blake & Vargas, a project space and publishing house. Studio Last is an award-winning Berlin-based creative studio founded in 2012 and run by Matthias Last and partner Sarah Bernauer. With an explicit focus on details and materials, the studio works across a diverse range of platforms and disciplines, designing visual identities, books, magazines and websites - inventing and reviving them with a cutting edge, sleek elegance, and a hint of the unexpected.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Matthias, art director and founder of Studio Last, a creative studio in Berlin. We specialize in developing, relaunching and redesigning media – from print publications to online platforms as well as visual identities.

Where did you grow up? 

In Hoyerswerda in former East Germany

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in Graphic design?

 I was very much into drawing and painting as a kid and wanted to become an artist. Then I grew more interested in music and pop culture, and the way the counterculture came up with new experimental ways of collaging self-made fonts, illustrations and images. I started to create album covers and concert flyers for musician friends. Because of my passion to work with fonts, shapes and images, the decision to study graphic design and to become a designer came naturally.

How would you describe your creative process? 

Openness and curiosity form the basis of my design process. I start every new project with an extensive research as I want to approach a topic from many different angles. 

As a designer, I always ask myself how I can add something new to this theme. Then communication with the client is very important so as to develop a design strategy they can truly identify with. While we usually develop a concrete vision very quickly, I'm also a true perfectionist, and I see the crucial work of any project in its details.

Does your city and surroundings influence you as a creative and individual?

Absolutely. I think being creative means to enter into a dialogue with your surroundings.

What do you struggle with the most in terms of working and living in a city like Berlin?

With the lack of good bakeries

The responsibility of the council in every city is to provide a solid foundation of design, art and cultural facilities, is that evident in Berlin?

The cultural variety in Berlin is simply exceptional. There is a lot of freedom but at the same time a lack of funding and political support.

Do you think it is also the responsibility of the artist/creative to improve the quality of people's lives in their city?

Yes. In Berlin, the impact of artists and creatives is very present and one of the main reasons why people are attracted to this city. 

Can you tell us about any current or future projects that you are particularly excited about? 

We believe that the current pandemic and, above all, the effects of climate change have already fundamentally changed society and thus also the idea of design – and will continue to do so in the long term. We think that much will be more functional and more focused on content and authenticity in the future. It is necessary to develop a new language in design that meets the changes in society. We as a studio want to meet this challenge and are also open for new ways of cooperation and creative exchange.

If you could add or change something about Berlin, what would that be?

More cycle paths and car-free zones

Describe the perfect day for you in Berlin.

The perfect day starts with a perfect coffee, surprises me with a new discovery and ends with an optimistic feeling for tomorrow.

If you could choose any artist/creative to collaborate with, who would that be and why? 

Very recently we collaborated with the photographer Christian Werner on a beautiful book project, that was published by Blake & Vargas, a project space and publishing house I founded together with my partner Sarah Bernauer. 

There are a lot of artists I would like to work with. 

We as a design studio are also keen to work with art institutions in the future; we would embrace the possibility for a collaboration with an institution. So if you’re reading this and working for one, we’d be happy to hear from you : ) ! 

What do you do to switch off?

I remain curious and keep on discovering new things

What does home mean to you?

Freedom, privacy – and good company

Sometimes people relate a specific smell to the city they live in or the place they grew up, does Berlin evoke a personal smell to you?

„Treffpunkt 8 Uhr“ by J.F. Schwarzlose Berlin.

What is your favourite time of the day?

Early morning and late-night

If you weren’t living in Berlin and could choose any city to live in where would that be, and why?

When winter begins, I often find myself fantasizing about moving to European cities in warmer regions. For example Milano or Lisbon. But then, as soon as spring arrives I fall again in love with this strange and beautiful city. 

berlin by Matthias Last 

A selection of places in Berlin - recommended by designer & art director Matthias Last. See all of Matthias' favourite places here

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