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Process Ten: Triboro

Posted: April 29, 2014

As part of our city profile on New York in Process Journal Edition Ten, we speak with David Heasty and Stefanie Weigler of Brooklyn-based studio Triboro.

Triboro is the husband-and-wife team of David Heasty and Stefanie Weigler. Triboro creates design solutions for clients in publishing, art, fashion, music, lifestyle, and for cultural institutions. The studio excels both in building inspiring brands from the ground up and in shepherding established brands into new territories. Triboro’s partners have won numerous industry awards and their work has been featured in publications and exhibitions around the world.

Did you design your wedding invitations together? Was this the project that sparked the birth of Triboro in 2008, or did your marriage come after you set up your Brooklyn studio?

The wedding came first—and you guessed right—the invite was our first collaboration. Initially we didn’t consider going into business together, but the partnership evolved so naturally. Aside from sharing the same mentor (designer Alexander Gelman), we knew early on that we shared similar aesthetic sensibilities and were interested in pursuing the same types of work. Now we complete each other’s sentences.

At Triboro, how do you figure out exactly what the client is asking for? Do you get a written brief from them, or does an understanding of the project develop through meetings, emails and discussions with all parties involved?

All of the above. We come to understand the needs and problems of the assignment by talking and listening to the client and the key decision-makers directly. There is usually some kind of information that you as the designer have to unearth by asking lots of questions. We are always seeking out the full picture so we can tailor a concept to address as many of the goals as possible.

The written brief is pretty much a formality, and is anyway sometimes misleading, as it might present the business in a way that reflects a client’s perception of reality rather than
reality, or dwell on a problem that does not require solving. We enjoy meeting the client in person in their ‘natural habitat’. It sheds light on who they are. Often some of the best ideas are triggered in the first meeting, which gives us plenty of time to begin laying a foundation for selling the idea.

New York magazine appears to be a regular client of Triboro. We assume that sustaining clients is not solely about the end product, but also about the relationship between the client and the design company. How do you manage and view the role of the client during the design process?

We have worked for New York magazine with two different design directors, Thomas Alberty and Chris Dixon, both of whom are terrific. A client’s role in the design process can be instrumental or insignificant—it depends on their own individual nature and the dynamics of the relationship.

Some clients come to us with initial ideas or inspirations. If they are smart, we listen to them and can do amazing work together. Other clients bring little inspiration to the table, but they trust us completely to come up with the best solution. The only type of client we try to avoid is the insecure client, who can neither bring meaningful direction to the process nor empower us to solve the problem on our own.

Our intuition about which clients might be a good fit for us has been refined over the years. As in love, when we find a relationship that works, we hold on for dear life.

Further Reading
The complete interview is available in print or digital in Process Journal Edition Ten. For more information on Triboro, visit www.triborodesign.com

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