My name is Iancu Barbărasă, I work mainly as a brand identity designer and I live in London, UK.
‘Good design is good business,’ as Thomas J. Watson of IBM once said. I believe the purpose of design should be to add value to companies or products, either through innovative solutions or, at the very least, by making things a little bit better. Also important are the details, as people feel and appreciate them, even if they don’t always ‘see’ them. Last but not least, I believe that designing without a relevant, insightful idea is just styling – it might look good and even work for a short while, but nothing more.
I have more than eight years’ experience, being based in London since 2010 and having worked with clients from the UK, Europe, Canada and the US. In the second half of 2012 and beginning of 2013 I‘ve been involved in the rebranding of the ITV network. Previously, I have worked for Appetite, a Design Week top 100 London branding & design agency, and for Brandient, the leading branding & design company in Romania. I’ve been involved in many branding and design projects, ranging from national scale to small ones, from banks, retailers, FMCG brands, educational institutions to attorneys and other highly specialised companies. I’ve often kept a close relationship with the clients, being in charge of many presentations and taking part in several brand engagements. I’ve also worked in advertising, a useful experience in understanding how brands develop over both short and long periods of time.
- 2010 September — Present
Brand Identity Designer, Freelance, London;
- 2011 April — 2012 June
Designer, Appetite, London;
- 2007 April – 2010 September
Brand Identity Designer, Brandient, Bucharest (Romania);
- 2006 April – 2007 April
Art Director, Lowe & Partners Group, Bucharest;
- 2005 October – 2006 March
Designer, Adveritas, Cluj-Napoca;
- 2004 December – 2005 April
Graphic Designer, Interior Designer, Transform, Cluj-Napoca (Romania);
- 2004 May – September
Graphic Designer, General Services Group, Cluj-Napoca;
- 2003 April – December
Sports photojournalist, Photo editor, Sport 80 weekly newspaper, Cluj-Napoca (Romania).
- B.A. Design, University of Arts and Design, Cluj Napoca (2001-2005 — diploma subject: Visual identity for the Cluj-Napoca city).
- 2012 — ‘Distinction’ award at ReBrand (Rhode Island, USA) for the Bitdefender rebranding (as part of the Brandient team);
- 2011 — ‘Merit’ award at ReBrand (Rhode Island, USA) for the Patria Credit rebranding (as part of the Brandient team);
- 2009 — ‘Best Of’ award’ at ReBrand (Rhode Island, USA) for the Dedeman rebranding (as part of the Brandient team);
- 2009 — ‘Merit’ Award at ReBrand (Rhode Island, USA) for the CEC Bank rebranding (as part of the Brandient team);
The long version:
I was born in Transylvania (Baia Mare, Romania) on April 20, 1982. I grew up in Craiova, went to college in Cluj-Napoca, moved to Bucharest in 2006, then moved to London in 2010. Living in so many places and working with many different people has made me quite adaptable, shaping me into a good listener, with plenty of patience.
BEGINNING AS A DESIGNER
I’ve drawn through all my childhood, but I didn’t go to an art-oriented school or high school. Instead, I studied programming and mathematics, which increased my already natural inclination for rational, organized thinking. However, thanks to one year of life drawing and another of design training in private (with one of the best design teachers I’ve met, Mr. Ion Preda), I made it into The University of Art and Design from Cluj Napoca. Four years later, choosing for my diploma’s subject the visual identity of the Cluj city, it was quite clear what design field appealed to me the most. Looking for more experience, by the time I finished college, I had already worked as a photojournalist, interior designer in an architecture studio and as a graphic designer. In less than a year after finishing college, thanks to Octavian Giosanu‘s (one of the CDs) strong faith in me, I was working as an Art Director in Bucharest in one of the top advertising groups, Lowe & Partners (first for Draft and MedicOne, then for Lowe).
GROWING AS A DESIGNER
Working for almost two years in advertising certainly had its moments, but when the chance smiled, I gave it all up to follow my college dream and join Brandient, the leading Romanian branding and design company. Realizing pretty soon that I barely knew how a ‘real’ designer should think and work, I spent the first year zealously learning, reading, trying to catch up and ‘steal’ from the much more experienced designers, led by Cristian Kit Paul. I had to forget most of the things learned in college or in advertising and go back to the greats: Paul Rand, Müller-Brockmann, Hans Rudolf Bosshard, Otl Aicher — or reading the more recent books by Robert Bringhurst, Paula Scher, Michael Bierut and Wally Olins. Soon I was not only catching up, but sometimes even asked for advice on various design matters, usually grids and typography, for which my interest had grown the most. I became a very reliable designer, capable of handling complex projects and dealing with the clients, in spite of being the youngest.
In three years and a half as a Brandient designer, I’ve had the privilege of being part of some of the biggest rebranding projects in Romania, including the rebranding of CEC Bank, the oldest Romanian bank (1864), and Dedeman, the largest DIY retailer in Romania. Both projects won international awards. I’ve also taken part in the rebranding or designing of financial institutions, retail chains, IT & telecom companies, food chains, law consultancy businesses, FMCG products, residential projects and several more — all being fruitful experiences.
I’ve moved to London in September 2010. My reasons were many, as I’ve written before, but in short, London is the design capital of the world, and one of the most inspiring and challenging metropolises. I’ve been working ever since for clients in the UK, US, Canada, Italy and Romania.
WHAT ELSE BESIDES DESIGN?
Being a designer is a 24/7 blessing — and sometimes — a curse. You can’t switch off when you leave your desk, everything keeps going on in your mind, even if you don’t realize it. Spotting bad typography on a shop’s sign while biking by, not buying milk from another because their labels are set in Arial, going to a specific mall just because they have a nicer wayfinding system — all these are part of the small daily pleasures and annoyances.
Apart from commercial work, I keep the fire burning with several personal projects, the latest being Picturing Thoughts. I’m also the founding member of the Design Challenge, a small group of savvy creatives. I read a lot and have finally accepted that, for me, buying books is a condition and decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves (as someone wisely said). I am trying to make up for this obsession with my blog post, Ten Books — A Graphic Designer’s Reading List. I’m also a big fan of anime, having watched hundreds — they’re by far more complex and thought-provoking than most of the ‘western’ movies, animated or not. Like most creatives, I’m interested in photography and design blogs — I’m making efforts to write more and browse less. I enjoy Apple products for their simplicity, but I’m not quite a zealot. Last but not least, I have a shokyu degree in Ryogen Ryu Iaikenpo (traditional Japanese sword), five kyu in Kukishin Ryu Hyoho Bujutsu and six kyu in Ryogen Ryu Shinobi Bujutsu, all thanks to the relentless Shihan Cristian Ozon Karyu.