Richard James Myburgh is a graphic designer, art director, curator and part-time lecturer currently living in Cape Town. Over the course of his career he has lived and worked in London and Belgium, studied fashion design at the Royal Academy in Antwerp and, guided by his keen interest in contemporary art, he launched a gallery called Silo.
We chatted to Richard to learn a bit more about the work he does, and how he’s come to be where he is today:
Growing up, was there ever any indication that you’d be doing what you are now?
I was exposed to design from a very early age. My dad worked with a couple of agencies in Johannesburg and so arranged for me to spend time at different studios. This gave me the chance to closely observe the designers and creative directors.
Throughout your career you’ve been exposed to and involved in a variety of fields. Could you tell us more about these things which have contributed to your journey so far?
I’ve always been interested in what is happening abroad as much as I’m interested in the complexity of being South African. I decided to move to Europe after working in Johannesburg for two years. I thrived living in London. I love that city, it’s ever changing. Antwerp is incredible too – the sense of camaraderie I experienced from the broad spectrum of innovative thinkers I met while studying Fashion Design at the Royal Academy resulted in a new energy for my design career. My appetite for new experiences is nearly insatiable and being somewhat nomadic in spirit I am very happy to explore new paths.
When it comes to designing, developing or repositioning brands; what important factors do you consider?
It really does depend on the brand. I don’t think one can apply just a single strategy to all projects. It is important for me to understand the brand inside and out and to do enough research to make sure that whichever story I communicate is done so strategically.
How would you describe your style or aesthetic, and how has this developed over the years?
I always try to reflect our time instead of referencing the past too much. I tend to draw parallels between my work and a Japanese or Scandinavian aesthetic. It is important to me that design is subtle but effective. Fashion and the world of art tends to reflect our time most instinctively and so my interests in these fields have become more important to me over the last couple years.
Does your environment influence your work in a way that you are consciously aware of?
I adapt quite well to just about any environment, so I wouldn’t say I am too influenced by it. I am however very happy in a white room with as little clutter as possible.
What then, are you influenced and inspired by?
My sources of inspiration are quite varied and erratic. Currently I’m drawn to the work of Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara and British composer Max Richter.
How important are self-initiated projects to you, and why?
At the moment I find these projects very rewarding, especially when I collaborate with someone else who does not work in the same field as I do. I enjoy the responsibility you have towards your collaborator and the opportunity to negotiate ideas that fulfils your own requirements and not those of a target market.
What does your process entail?
I believe one needs to do quite a bit of research before one tackles anything. I like having systems in place, but also leaving enough room for accidents to happen. I often start with gathering quite a lot of information and references – they don’t always need to be completely relevant to the project.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Meeting brilliant people in the process.
Alternately, what do you find to be the most challenging?
To objectively evaluate, consider and curate the strongest ideas.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just moved into a new studio and I’m quite excited about working with a new group of people.