National Geographic Interview

Have you noticed a difference between the visual communication
conventions in Brazil and the US? Meaning of colors, composition…

You could argue that in Brazil, colors are typically brighter and the compositions are busier. A lot of what you see feels a bit more visceral and emotional that what you might come across in the U.S. But I would say that’s only true on the level of popular culture: for Carnival, public art, retail graphic materials, TV commercials and amateur signage. Brazil’s aesthetic is a bit more “popular” in that sense. It feels like the visual language is more customizable by the masses, not by trained designers.

At the same time, global commerce has meant that Brazilian design has gradually had increasing influence from the American culture, which is seen as high-quality and polished.

One thing I find interesting is that both countries were heavily influenced by the International Style movement during the last century. Brazil has an entire city — Brasília — built architecturally as a modernist experiment. Just as in the U.S., corporations and the government have widely adopted that way of thinking. And so did design schools. So in that sense, when you get away from popular culture, there is actually very little difference since the design principles are more global than local.

Have you noticed any difference in the use of data visualization in the US and Brazil?

Brazil is really strong in this arena; their infographic designers are some of the best in the world. Sergio Peçanha from the New York Times is a favorite of mine; he’s equally adept at designing for both print and digital.

Overall, though, I would say that the U.S. produces stronger work. That could be because Americans are really into data. You can see that in sports journalism. There’s a real appreciation for data in the U.S. and how that influences results, while Brazilians are more likely to want to debate a referee’s mistakes.

So because there is a higher appetite for statistics in the US, there is a lot more data and content for designers to play with. As a result, the data visualizations in elections and other subjects can be richer.

Do you think you’ve contributed to change the visual vocabulary of your company with the visual culture you brought from Brazil?

Work & Co. is a company that interprets timeless design principles for the digital world. I believe — as do all of our senior leaders and the talent we recruit — that good design is more universal and cross-disciplinary than it may seem. The correct design solution, especially in digital, is not local, nor is it hyper-contextualized based on culture. So though I may come from Brazil and my colleagues from other parts of the world, we all agree that great design works well anywhere in the world. And we all influence each other and respect one another’s work.

Having a global approach to design is critical today. The industrial revolution was impactful but, in my mind, the digital revolution we’re living in is more significant when it comes to bridging cultural gaps. The connected world we live in simply has no borders. So modernist practices, those International Style ideas from the last century, are even more relevant today.

The reality is that people are spending an increasing amount of more time looking at screens than ever— be it computers, phones, tablets, TVs. Work & Co is committed to improving the experience both visually and from a user-experience standpoint, to get consumers to interact with these screens, use them, get information and accomplish tasks on them. Because of that, I prefer to believe that my personal contributions are more towards a global vocabulary rather than exporting Brazilian culture.