January 12, 2012

Hanging Out with Aesthetic Apparatus

Today was just a continuation of yesterday's awesomeness when we decided to drop in on the guys at Aesthetic Apparatus.

As you enter the space, the entire front of the studio is a shop where you can buy any of their goodies. It's entirely open to the public but they recommend calling ahead of time just to make sure they're in.

It's hard to believe that they're just a three man team made up of Dan Ibarra, Michael Byzewski, and Jonathan Schuster. Dan hung out with us while Michael was getting ready for their client meeting at 3PM and Jonathan was in the studio doing some prints. We asked Dan about his thoughts on the design community in Minneapolis. He talked about the how it's not too small but not too big. It's just the right size which is why it's very close-knit. 

They're a very humble studio. And they'll have a conversation with you almost like an old friend. While talking with Dan, it's very easy to forget about all the awards they've won and all their big-name clients. Dan was telling us a bit about how sometimes they don't know what clients want from them anymore. Are they graphic design? Or are they printmaking? (And this is all while I'm staring at their D&AD Award on the shelf.) 

Aesthetic Apparatus is also fueled by Dogwood Coffee. Anyone else noticing a trend here? They recently worked on some mugs for Dogwood and got some coffee & appliances in exchange. According to Dan,"The guy at Dogwood takes his coffee seriously. He even gave us a scale so we can weigh our beans to the exact weight for brewing." 

After talking up a storm about Dogwood, Dan led us into the studio where all the messy magic happens. Now this is the kind of messy printmaking studio we're used to! The space is actually a lot smaller than I expected. But it explains why the three of them work just perfectly!

Dan let us take a little peek at what they're currently working on. Every year (for the past 3 years), they print limited edition Chinese New Year labels for Andrews & Dunham tea. So here's the Year of the Dragon:

Before they sent us on our way, we stood around for another 10 – 15 minutes talking about food. We mentioned how we went to both 5-8 Club and Matt's Bar for juicy lucys/jucy lucys. They asked us which was our fave, and our vote was for Matt's. Dan then responded, "Good. Looks like you chose the right team." The Aesthetic Apparatus guys also favor Matt's and then suggested we take a trip to the Triple Rock Social Club for the Cook's Revenge. Your only choices are Meat or Vegetarian and you essentially have no clue what you're going to get. But Dan reassured us that 95% of the time, you will get something awesome.

My only regret about this studio visit: not taking a picture of this 400 lb. matador lamp that Dan had transferred from his home to the studio. That matador had a look of serious business on his face as he has kept bulls away from the studio. 

Dan, Michael, and Jonathan are quite possibly the nicest & coolest guys I've ever met. Next time you're in Minneapolis, I definitely recommend giving them a call and stopping by.

Special thanks to them for letting us distract them from work!

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