Becoming a creative director was always the plan for Valeria Hedman. At age seven she designed business cards bearing that title, her father told her. Today, Hedman is director of her own consultancy, Transfer Studio, which she set up in 2006 with her then fellow student Falko Grentrup.
Originally working in Web design for a Swedish telecoms company in her hometown of Stockholm, Hedman enrolled at Central St Martins College of Art and Design, where she studied graphic design and developed an interest in space and exhibition environments. In her second year her retail interior concept for Topshop, based on blushing, won a D&AD Student Award. ‘I guess I was already interested in how stories are unfolded in space, whether in 2D, 3D, physical or virtual,’ says Hedman, who set up Transfer Studio by the time she started her postgraduate degree.
The studio now focuses on printed matter and exhibition environments. Hedman didn’t purposefully avoid joining a larger consultancy, it was more a case of ‘getting on with doing stuff’, as the duo was already working on various projects by the time Hedman and Gentrup finished their degrees. ‘We didn’t plan it, it happened and we embraced it and got on with it,’ she says.
Projects have included Love Story, which marked the relaunch of London’s Southbank Centre programme to promote the traditional Indonesian musical ensemble gamelan, and involved creating a playful environment for audiences, as well as a custom typeface and instrument boxes. The Importance of Play was an evocative space for an Early Learning Centre event to promote new collections, and Transfer Studio worked with MTV on branding for the broadcaster’s presence at the Camden Roundhouse.
Hedman admires the work of Matali Crasset, Usman Haque and Troika and gets ‘inspired by their playfulness’, as well as work that ‘enables communication, interaction and discovery’ and ‘intelligent and simple approaches that people can understand’.
Her own approach is very hands-on, but also reflective, with a strong collaborative approach, especially when it comes to dealing with the client. ‘It’s about relationships as much as about producing good design to tight budgets,’ says Hedman. ‘The beauty of design is the power it has to make ideas happen.’
Hedman enjoys the way in which immersive design has evolved into a collaborative product. She explains, ‘It’s a very exciting time for immersive design where the boundaries have finally been blurred between the disciplines, allowing for imaginative contributions by curators, artists and communicators alike that transform the angle of the experience and the impression of the audience.’
Nurturing her reflective practice through research projects, Hedman is keen to keep her thinking fresh. ‘Design is a tangible thing, but also very political, so I also have a part of me that is constantly developing a personal discourse,’ she says.
Hedman dreams about getting her hands on bigger projects for the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Barbican, and to work with the likes of Bruce Mau and Land Design Studio. ‘They are so good, maybe their skills would rub off on me,’ she concludes.
2006 BA Graphic Design Central St Martins College of Art and Design
2006 Co-founder Transfer Studio
2008 MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments Central St Martins College of Art and Design
‘Valeria Hedman is excellent at research, gathering material, making her own observations, finding information from unusual sources, and distilling that into an interesting concept. She then gives that concept powerful visual impact and conveys the information in a clear hierarchy so people understand it.
Sometimes designers are more about mood and self-expression – Valeria has her own voice, but her work always communicates clearly. She understands her audience.
She’s also an expert collaborator, who can work in a team, listen to other people’s ideas, and incorporate them into the design. She’s extraordinarily professional, generous and fun to work with and you can rely on getting a result.
Valeria succeeds in her male-dominated field by being patient, but charmingly persistent. She’s independent-thinking, and very passionate about her work – she has a vision and she makes it happen.’
Tricia Austin Course director MA Creative Practice for Narrative Environments Central St Martins College of Art and Design