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The Stone Twins interview. The only way is up.

Early 2016, Mijksenaar helped draw up wayfinding guidelines for the coolest building in Amsterdam, the A’DAM Tower, located on the north bank of the IJ river. Our recommendations were further developed in a number of active sessions with all parties involved.
The conversion of an office building into multifunctional A’DAM involves many parties: project developer Lingotto, the different tenants (restaurants/bars, a hotel, a private members’ club, and an array of global music companies) and, last but not least, the designers of A’DAM’s brand identity – The Stone Twins.

At Mijksenaar, we sit down with other designers all the time. But we don’t see the likes of The Stone Twins every day. Reason for Flows to present Declan and Garech Stone (1970) with the following questions.

How do you orient yourself, and do you ever get or feel lost?

Of course, we’re human and occasionally get lost. Nowadays, we just use our iPhones – but in the old days, we would have looked up at the sky or asked the nearest person in uniform. In fact, the last time we got lost was at a music festival … but that was probably due to alcohol.

Why did you choose to come to the Netherlands?
The Irish are a diasporic people and immigration is in our DNA. We were relatively young at 21 when graduating after a four year Bachelor course (in Visual Communication) and coming to the Netherlands felt like a good way to continue our education, and fulfil our sense of curiosity. In the pre-internet era of the early 1990s, the only way to demystify Dutch Design was by visiting Holland. Studios like KoeweidenPostma, Studio Dumbar and OMA held a personal fascination. It was also great to explore the progressive public service design of PTT and Ootje Oxenaar’s Guilder banknotes. The Dutch instinctively understand the value of design as they are surrounded by it. After all, they designed/created their own country.

and is there such a thing as ‘Dutch Modernism’ in design?
In general, yes. The Dutch embrace the traits of Modernism such as clarity, pragmatism, absence of clutter, systems, etc. but often add a touch of whimsy or wit. You can see these qualities in much of the work from the aforementioned Dumbar and Oxenaar. This sensibility is also found in contemporary Dutch design such as WeTransfer, Lernert & Sander or a VanMoof bicycle.

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Finding your way in the A’DAM Toren, what’s the idea?
We always saw the wayfinding as an integral part of the holistic brand identity (visual + verbal). Along with social media and the elevator music, the wayfinding is another way that brand A’DAM ‘speaks’. As our brand strategy revolves around ‘Amsterdam and Music’, it made sense to reference music in some of the signs. Our design approach is a mix of pragmatism and clarity with wit and fun. International Typographic Style that aids navigation – but also invites a smile and takes the visitor to another place. For example, ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome’ (carpark entrance) and ‘up/down arrows’ that reference well-known songs such as ‘Stairway to Heaven’, ‘Highway to Hell’ and ‘Get On Up’.

What do you think of brands working with cities to solve urban issues?
Great! Some of the projects by JCDecaux for street furniture and homeless shelters are quite interesting. So too are the initiatives by various banks for city bikes. However, brands like Tesla or VW could do more. Back in the 1960s Edward de Bono proposed building carparks that were linked with the purchase of cars. Surely it’s time to introduce such ideas?

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What is your favorite airport and why?
Garech thinks Schiphol Airport because of the masterful wayfinding (of course) but also because it represents ‘home’: both as a place of departure and arrival. Declan loves Marrakech Menara Airport: a place where traditional Islamic design meets sleek ultramodern architecture.

Photo Copyright: Wayfinding at A'DAM Toren (image: The Stone Twins)