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DESIGN AND CODE COLLIDE AT CHEZ AKUFEN

by • May 2, 2014 • Montreal MakersComments Off2318

Founded seven years ago, the creative studio Akufen employs about forty people today who work together in web development, branding and design. Two of their artisans particularly interested us for their ability to successfully blend their professions: Olivier Mercier-Chan Kane (art director and strategist) and Alexandre Leclair (developer and e-commerce specialist). Admittedly on the day we showed up they were still feeling the effects of the Grafika Gala and assorted after parties of the night before. But apparently that’s something not entirely discouraged by Akufen.

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“We can’t always compete with the salaries that big agencies pay, so we make up for it with a more liberal and fun work environment, as well as a more hands-off creative direction,” explains Guillaume Braun, the studio’s founder.

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Recently in advertising, dozens of new specialties have emerged, and it has resulted in a curious mix of culture and temperaments. “Certain developers are more creative and visionary; others are more analytical and moderate. For a web designer, it’s vital to understand that, no matter the quality of the mock-ups or the concept, it’s the developer’s interpretation that counts. That’s why collaboration is so essential,” explains Olivier Mercier-Chan Kane.

“Sometimes, designers see things I would never have thought of and vice versa. It makes for a good team. Honestly, there are some things I don’t know how to approach. I’m constantly learning, and that’s what I like the most about it,” adds Alexandre Leclair.

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In fact, these two creatives are prime examples of autodidacts who aren’t sitting around waiting to be taught something to go forward.

“As it says on my coffee mug at work: I’m a child of the Internet. The web is my encyclopedia, meaning instant access to the world and everything that’s going on elsewhere. Contributing to shaping the media that influences the world is very important to me,” says Olivier while showing us the in-house project La grande branlette de Noël that generated a lot of buzz on les internets over the holidays.

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“There are a lot of kids here. We believe tremendously in people who have no agency experience, who haven’t picked up any bad habits or limited ways of thinking. But we also adore our older employees who balance the craziness and naivety of the younger ones,” says Guillaume Braun.

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Alex Leclair adds: “A career in development or design isn’t a 9 to 5 proposition. You have to put in weekends, you have to dream in code, you have to have personal projects. The majority of my apprenticeship was done outside the office in my free time working on personal projects.”

A big thank you to l’Atelier Akufen for having welcomed us. We invite you to visit their website to check out their most recent projects.

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