This is Pacifica is an independent communication studio based in Porto, Portugal, established in 2007 by Pedro Serrão, Pedro Mesquita and Filipe Mesquita.
With a fresh spirit, This is Pacifica creates integrated communication and differentiated projects which have originated recognition and awards. mishmash had the opportunity to get to know their creative processes and workspace and we couldn’t resist interviewing them.
Personally, when did you find out you were one of those people we call creative? And what’s your definition of being creative?
F: I believe that such discovery doesn’t really exist, it’s more like a series of consequences that reinforce the idea. I believe the answer is more related to how we differentiate ourselves rather than creativity. For us, everything lies in the richness of the connections we create. That generates creativity and how much of a creative you will turn out to be.
When you connect a thing that at first has nothing to do with other thing, being four years old or forty, as it is our case, that’s what sets how different you will be or where the difference lies. The notion that you are able to do things differently or at least the relation that you create between both things can be different from the people that are next to you — that’s the concept we follow. It’s not being creative as a mere title but a feeling that you can create things in a different way. I think this is it.
How does your creative process starts and how has it evolved over time?
F: The process is transversal. Our creative process always starts from a problem. That’s what differentiates artists from designers, it’s that we always start with a problem that somehow is getting in our way. Inherently we hate to repeat formulas and we look at each problem like we have never seen anything like it. We focus on what’s around the culture of every project, looking to achieve a solution that’s complementary to the brand’s universe. We don’t impose our own style nor do we impose formulas that have already worked in the past. That’s why we are constantly looking to evolve, looking to work in ways that we never worked before.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?
F: Usually we say that we aren’t a design studio. Only for a simple reason, none of us has a classic design background, and so our influences are not the traditional big designers or the big design schools. It has more to do with transversal influences, from music to architecture.
When you are only focused on design only, normally you are only on the design’s problem. We are in the scope of design. When you talk about design, you talk with designers, you fix things like a designer would do or already did. And this way you question things that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Tell us about your workspace — Is it tidy or chaotic? What’s on your desk right now?
F: It’s simultaneously organized and chaotic. It’s funny because we don’t keep that distance to realize how we work but we are relatively organized and relatively chaotic. It gives us pleasure to be both. Within chaos, things are born that organization wouldn’t allow in a way that is more productive and consequential. Chaos is not consequential most of the times. For good and bad, we have to be consequential about what we do.
We like this chaos of having no segmentation, no compartments, no sections, and therefore of developing integrated projects that allow that chaos. By relating things that would be sequential and wiping it out, it allows us to work as a whole, and chaos is the form of organization. We are proudly chaotic organized.
Nowadays we have several digital tools in our hands. Is it still your first instinct to grab a pen and paper?
F: Most of our ideas don’t start in a computer. The computer isn’t our idea tool. 99% of our ideas come from discussion before the materialization. We always play a lot and usually say we are three creative directors, but as soon as one of us is developing a project, we say that he is a designer and has two creative directors. So there’s always a very democratic logic, no one appropriate a project in a watertight way. That forces us to discuss and talk a lot about the projects.
In the end, the computer is just a consequence of the idea. A lot of our projects are born with hands, a lot because of it. Sometimes we force ourselves to be hands-on on the projects, mainly because it’s richer to think with our hands, and besides, we also play a lot by saying that “as designers, if we only work with a type of clients, we won’t exercise our whole body”. We only exercise some muscles, or a part of our body, like a leg or an arm. I think that what makes us complete is if we think and get more strengthen in the projects as a whole, more open and at the same time, more complete.
People often settle for the comfort and safety of their careers. How do you maintain originality in your creative process?
F: By defying ourselves. There’s a certain excitement to adding and creating new things. More than that, our concern is that the project shines more than we do. At the same time, the project can only shine if we bring something new to the client, to the idea, to its materialization. Of course that inherently we also get rewarded by it but it’s a lot more interesting in terms of portfolio to keep finding different solutions.
At times, the distance that we make between the problem and the solution is shorter and we enjoy making long shots. It’s the challenge of grabbing a thing apparently with no value and suddenly giving it value. In the end of the project you think: “Ah, this was clear and simple”. Sometimes it’s there but never earned the attention, the care and the talent to extrapole all that he could be and was not. I think that that it’s part of our mission, trying to bring up the best in every project, and we can only do that if having a vey optimistic thinking about the project.
How do you think creativity can help society today?
F: I think it can really help, through a conscience of the path we must all follow. It’s not about imposing solutions and materializing them. The big challenge is for us to rethink the need of each piece and the why of its existence, as the traditional mediums such as billboards and flyers start to be outdated. We must start questioning ourselves why we are making each piece and the real need for it.
In fact, Patagonia just published a great advert that starts with the image of a coat that says “don’t buy this coat if you have another in your closet and if you’ll only wear it once”. I think that this is an example of our mission as well, not to give way to temptation of doing a lot of things and in big quantities, with a lot of materials waste. We have the responsibility of presenting a strategic and better way for our clients to communicate.
F: Filipe Mesquita.