by Lauren Festa
They say don’t mix business with pleasure, but for these creative couples, that’s just the perfect working formula between themselves and their clients in producing some of the best work in the industry today. For this series, we’re speaking to creative couples at the top of their game, running small design studios near and far, who prove that there really is such thing as a better half. As for ‘who’, well, that depends on what day of the week it is.
Call it a missed connection that connected. Art Directors Luisa Milani and Walter Molteni met on a train while coming back from university and it was nearly love at first sight. Discovering common passions and after having worked apart in separate studios, the couple decided to try and melt their brains. Their brainchild, La Tigre (winner of ADC Young Guns X) was born in Milan, Italy and has been living on love for 6 years. Since 2009, they’ve worked with clients ranging from YOOX to Microsoft, ESPN and a whole lot more.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Names: Luisa Milani and Walter Molteni
Ages: 33 & 34
Location: Milan, Italy
Working Titles: Art Directors
ADC: Everyone here is (refreshingly) breaking the cardinal rule: Don’t date in the workplace. Do you think it’s time we changed this traditional sensibility?
L&W: Yes, because I think that a lot of people are discovering how wonderful is to work with someone you really love.
ADC: Sometimes you end up liking the people you work with and I think that’s okay.
L&W: I think it’s ok but it could be dangerous too.
ADC: Did you think this would work from the get go? Any doubts?
L&W: We were convinced we would work well together from the beginning.
ADC: Has a client ever been skeptical to approach or have you ever been turned down work given the work dynamic?
L&W: It never happened to us!
ADC: How do your employees feel (if you have any) about the fact that their bosses are together?
L&W: They are ok with it, I guess they have fun when we bicker about trifles.
ADC: Given your experiences thus far, would you say this is not for everyone? Or that you can make it work?
L&W: It’s absolutely not for everyone! I think you have to be sure that your partner is “the one”. Patience goes a long way too.
ADC: Have you ever had a moment where you guys were like “that’s it, I quit!”
L&W: Not yet!
ADC: What are some of the main differences between working in this dynamic (together as a couple), versus working in a larger agency setting with different people?
L&W: We’ve developed a workflow that is getting better everyday. We are together all the time so we are connected to find new ideas. Our brains are connected in work. Most of the time it’s fun. Work is really important to us and it’s something that we share as a couple. We feel so honest to each other and we manage to say what we think without any constraint.
ADC: How does it help each of you personally, to be able to work with someone you also cook with and do laundry with?
L&W: You can really say what you think.
ADC: Any tips, tricks or advice?
L&W: We defined our working relationship during years. I’m convinced the most important thing is to identify roles and decide what is important to work on together.
ADC: Do you generally work together as a team or as individuals and have check-ins?
L&W: We generally start working as a team during the creative steps, then we start designing individually and meet again after a while.
ADC: How do you balance the work/life thing? Do couples have a rule that when you aren’t at work you aren’t talking about work or does it blur into personal hours?
L&W: Work blurs into our personal space. We love what we do so, it’s fun! If we are worried about something at work, I think it’s impossible not to talk about it. If we have an idea while watching a movie or seeing an exhibition together, we get excited and start talking about it. Our rule is no talking at least during holidays.
ADC: Do you agree on most decisions or is there lots of debate and discussion?
L&W: We make decisions quite easily but we really discuss every small detail together.
ADC: It seems like the work came first and then the relationship. Does work still come first or are there more important things?
L&W: Our relationship is the most important thing in our lives. I think our work comes from our love in some way.
ADC:What is one thing you wish people would understand about working as a creative couple?
L&W: I wish people wouldn’t say to us ‘I’d never be able to do it! I don’t know how you can do it’ on working as a couple, because to us it’s a wonderful thing.
ADC: Please fill in the blanks:I love_____________ working with my significant other because________.
L&W: I love working with my significant other because we share the thing that we love doing the most.