As August is Women’s Month in South Africa, we’re chatting to women in inspiring roles in the local creative industry.
Hannerie Visser is the co-founder of The President design studio which she started in 2008 with Peet Pienaar. As well as award winning design work, The President is also behind the Toffie Pop and Toffie Food festivals, Church gift shop and magazines, Menu and Paris.
Hannerie took some time out of her day to tell us what they’re currently up to, to share her thoughts on the state of creativity in SA and to let us know who she is inspired by.
Between 10and5: Please tell us a bit about what you were doing before you started The President with Peet?
Hannerie Visser: I was Group Publisher of about 10 magazines at New Media Publishing, including VISI and Taste magazines.
10and5: What was your vision for The President in the very beginning?
Hannerie: We wanted to create designs, products and experiences that were truly inspired by the South. It is important to us to create things that are authentic and relevant to consumers.
10and5: Has it changed much since?
Hannerie: Our design ethics and principles are the same, but over the last two years, we have moved from being a purely graphic design studio to a experiential design consultancy. We work much more with experience design – from space design to creating event experiences and also consulting retail and other corporate clients to create and evaluate all consumer touchpoints of a brand.
10and5: You’ve recently officially launched the Events division. What do you love about creating experiences and what can we look forward to?
Hannerie: Events are the fastest growing marketing strategy in the States. Because consumers are so used to experiencing brands online, there’s a huge need to create first hand experiences and brand interaction.
Events are a great opportunity to enhance business and client relationships, it also allows smaller clients to compete with industry greats and when done right, events can create huge return in terms of media and social media endorsements, and does not have to cost you much. When planning and producing events we use a cross-discipline approach that considers multiple aspects of the brand experience. The idea is to create environments that build ideas (perception), emotions and memories.
Currently we are working with NIKE in Argentina to launch their sponsorship of the international Argentina rugby team. The launch is taking place here in Cape Town just before their first Four Nations match against the Springboks next week.
The biggest events we do are our own Toffie Events, including Toffie Pop and Toffie Food. This year we’re doing Toffie Food in collaboration with Spier wine farm at the end of October and it’s called the Secret Festival.
Some other fun events we did recently include a launch for the Polaris Climate Change Observatory that was attended by the Prince and Princess of Monaco, as well as a blind tasting event over 3 days for 5 Gum and a flavour profiling event in the dark for Spier as part of the Secret Festival launch. We find that sensory and interactive experiences are extremely effective and use that a lot when creating events – we often do things with food and also use smell or sound.
10and5: You’re in contact with the most exciting young designers both locally and internationally through organising the Toffie Pop Festival. What are your thoughts on the state of creativity in South Africa?
Hannerie: Design in South Africa is in a very exciting space and we have so much talent and potential. Our mission is to make young designers understand that their designs should be authentic and come from who they are, they should look at our world and realities for inspiration. What you see on the internet and Behance happening in Europe, won’t work here in SA, it’s not who we are and it’s just not relevant.
10and5: What would you consider a career highlight so far?
Hannerie: Definitely starting The President, working with the MTV World Design Office and also making a living from our own projects, like the Toffie Events and our own magazines like Menu and Paris.
10and5: What strengths does a woman bring to a design studio?
Hannerie: To me it’s not really about me being a woman, the strength of our business lies in the way my and Peet’s skills are complimentary. You need a combination of super creative talent and vision and the skills to be able to produce and manage those projects to life.
10and5: Who is the creative woman you are most inspired by and why?
Hannerie: I’ve always been inspired by very strong and clever female magazine editors. My favourite is defintely Penny Martin, the editor of The Gentlewoman, for being fearless and never compromising. She’s creating a magazine for intelligent women and she gets the best out of the best contributors in the world – she sometimes asks some of these writers to rewrite their pieces up to eight times! She also created a product that is commercially viable and completely non-mainstream. She is also down to earth, unaffected, shy and extremely well-mannered – she sent us handwritten letters and postcards to thank us for Toffie Pop!
Visit The President at www.thepresident.co.za