Winneke de Groot and Felix van Dam are the creative duo behind We Are Out of Office, a small studio based in a cherry orchard just outside Utrecht in The Netherlands.
Aside from running a screen print, Risograph and ceramics workshop, they are artists and illustrators, creating work inspired by the “little rarities” they pick up and collect during their travels around the world and in daily life. In this case, they share their Risograph prints of food and drink packaging design from around the world. “We have a weak spot for it,” says Felix. “We travel a lot, and we always bring home heaps of weird souvenirs and a lot of them happen to be some sort of packaging.”
Felix puts their obsession with packaging down to being qualified graphic designers: “I guess that’s the reason why we are interested in the interaction between type and image. We love to explore and to get to know other cultures, and we think looking at the way they design tells a lot. We consider the fact that we can’t read for example Japanese as a big plus, the characters become beautiful images for us.”
The series of packaging prints embraces a lot of the things they like: type, image, culture and memories. “We can trace all the design we did back to a certain moment and place which makes it very valuable for us,” Felix adds.
Do they have a favourite? “It has to be the can of watermelon seeds we brought from Vietnam in 2015. The can is weird, and there is a huge watermelon laying in a pile of hay on the label. The bottom of the can is embossed with a beautiful logo.”
Winneke and Felix have boxes filled with packaging design from abroad, and as an attempt to archive they have created an Instagram account called @tokowaooo.
Alongside their gorgeous prints, their interest has shifted to more physical products such as sculptures, paintings, and textiles. “Last year, we built a series of huge sculptures to be placed at a cultural spot here in the city as some sort of park. We’re also experimenting with ceramics, trying to merch the packaging prints and still lifes into ceramic pieces. We designed a couple of rugs and textiles, and we recently bought a tufting gun to experiment with at home. When we have some spare time, we make paintings. So we kind of do a lot. We like to learn new techniques and to explore how we can apply our designs on new things.”
Discover more of their prints, textiles and ceramics at their online shop.