‘Design is everywhere. Design is for everything’ | Interview with Rejane Dal Bello


Rejane Dal Bello

When Rejane Dal Bello begins a new design project, she feels she is “starting again” and “entering a new dimension”, relishing the opportunity to explore the needs and workings of a new world, and always keen to take new learnings from the experience.

Brazil born, London based, Rejane is regarded as one of the world’s leading graphic designers - a status confirmed by multiple award wins, including Gold at the 2021 Fedrigoni Top Award; Silver at the 2020 European Design Awards Brochures series; and Gold at the 2018, 2019 and 2020 European Design Awards; and innovative work for diverse clients such as Alzheimer NL; the Paz Holandesa Hospital, Peru; and indie-rocker Courtney Barnett.

Rejane is one of the speakers at Design Skillnet’s Design Leaders Conference 2024, and in advance of the event, she shared her thoughts on leadership, collaboration, communication, and how Milton Glaser shaped the often socially conscious nature of her work.

Designers are leaders

While Studio Rejane Dal Bello can boast of numerous high profile clients, Rejane has kept her studio “intentionally small” to remain hands-on in her approach and work at the centre of the creative brief.

“I’m a graphic designer at heart,” she says. “In a big studio I would have to be an administrator rather than do the design, but I love the doing, the conceptualising, and translating what the client wants into a shape, a vision, an entity, and I want to keep that.”

Being a studio founder, as well as a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale - the preeminent community of international graphic and communication designers - puts Rejane in a leadership position. However, she argues all designers “are leaders naturally”.

“To be a designer, where you conceptualise, you think, a lot is in your hands,” she says. “You have to take a stand, have a perspective, conceptualise and identify what comes from the client and what comes through you. You take ownership of the project, because you have to. It’s your imagination, your ideas.”

Pushing the boundaries

In the interaction between a designer and the client, Rejane points to the value of communicating clearly “your beliefs in a striking, moving, and effective way”.

“It needs to be clear as the work needs to be memorable and identifiable,” he says. “If the design is clear and recognisable it comes back to your mind faster. It’s identifiable as a shape and a shape that recalls what that company means. The simpler the way you can communicate that - the core of that idea - is the most effective you can be as a graphic designer and branding specialist.”

Leadership in design is not only about leading a team, but also leading clients to take brave decisions to support innovative work, and Rejane is a strong believer in how collaboration can achieve this.

“It’s really important to understand the language of someone else and identify what they mean when they ask for something,” she says. “There’s not only the process of design, but also the process of dealing with the client: How to communicate that our profession is really important, how to communicate that we matter in the world, as design is in everything, everywhere. So, we really need to have conversations that go in-depth rather than just a simple brief.”

Such conversations can lead to the creation of bold, and imaginative new work - work that serves the client, while allowing a designer to exercise their innovation to its full potential.

“Brave work is not crazy work. Brave work is when you see the possibilities of doing something that pushes expectations but is still within the client's best interests,” says Rejane. “Sometimes the client comes in expecting something particular, but once we understand the ingredients of their problem, we can sometimes go further and push the boundaries of the market and be unique.”

As well as being an award winning designer, Rejane also won acclaim as an author for Citizen First, Designer Second (2020). Part memoir, part reflection on the philosophy and the value of design, DesignBoom named it as part of their ‘50 Essential Books Every Designer Should Read’.

One of its most striking passages was Rejane’s view that, no matter how experienced a designer is, there remains “so much to be learned and discovered through the process” of design.

“Every time we start a new project we go back to ground zero,” she says. “We are creating from scratch and don’t know if it’s going to be successful. That’s what I love about the profession. I don’t design for just one sector, so I’m learning about society every time. I recently did branding for cycling so I learned about that world. Next I’ll be working in Cinema. Every time it’s like I’m entering a new dimension. We’re tapping into different societal needs and society’s realities, so I’m learning all the time.”

A strong sense of social responsibility and social consciousness runs through Rejane Dal Bello’s work, as evidenced by her campaign for Paz Holandesa Hospital, a free children’s hospital in Peru, to educate the public about Spina Bifida.

That social awareness comes from her own time as a social worker, but also from her time as a student of possibly the greatest designer of the 20th century - Milton Glaser.

“I studied under him for six months,” she says. “What stayed with me were the discussions we had about the responsibility of designers, and our responsibilities within the industry and society.”

For Rejane, design not only has a social responsibility, but a real power to play a positive role in answering society’s different and challenging needs.

“It can because design is everywhere. Design is for everything” she says. “That’s what I think is humbling. We are not the heroes of the project. Design is in-between things. Design is a medium between the thing and the thing that needs to be communicated at. We can be everywhere in society, from a hospital to a play to client surveys - anywhere there is communication. Everything is design. We are part of everybody's lives.”

Find out more about Rejane Dal Bello.

Visit her website Studio Rejane Dal Bello and discover more about her incredible portfolio of work.

Learn more about her approach to leading her business at the Design Leaders Conference 2024.

Book your Design Leaders Conference Ticket Now.

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