When asked in January by FIDMDigitalArts if there are any “dream” projects left for his team at Marc Friedland Couture Communications to conquer, owner Marc Friedland answered, “My dream project is to design the envelope for the Academy Awards, perhaps one of the most important envelopes in the world.”
Four weeks later, Friedland’s dream project had become a reality when he redesigned “the envelope, please” envelope for the 83rd annual Academy Awards®, attracting press attention from all over the world. Accord to NPR, this year is the first time that the Academy Awards® envelope has been custom designed.
And Friedland certainly didn’t disappoint. The envelope itself was made out of iridescent gold paper watermarked with little images of Oscar, and lined with shiny red paper embossed with gold Oscar-shaped silhouettes. The winner’s name appeared on a heavy piece of lacquered red paper inside, with the category listed on the back. As finishing touch, each envelope was sealed with a shiny red sticker adorned with two strips of red ribbon. (Read more about the 83rd Academy Awards envelope here). In true Friedland form, the love was in the small details.
Celebrating his 25th year in business, Marc Friedland has designed exquisite, hand-crafted invitations for high profile celebrities and corporate clients, from Oprah Winfrey for her 50th birthday “Legends Ball” celebration, to the grand opening of Wynn Las Vegas for Steve Wynn, to Tyler Perry’s grand opening of “Tyler Perry Studios.” Friedland has recently established his new namesake brand, Marc Friedland Couture Communications, which focuses on invitations and other print collateral and with its sister company, Creative Intelligence, Inc.– the experiential branding “creative think tank”– brings the world of branding and event marketing together.
FIDMDigitalArts was honored to receive a personal tour of Friedland’s studio in Los Angeles, learning about his firm, his experience as a designer, and his plans for the future.
With as much care and sentiment that Friedland and his team at Marc Friedland Couture Communications/Creative Intelligence give to each invitation, it’s no surprise he has attracted so many high profile clients over the past two and a half decades. Incorporating processes such as book binding, engraving, embossing and foil stamping–craftsmanship that seems to be disappearing in today’s digital world– Friedland’s invitations are, in his words, “sophisticated little works of art.”
“To some, we can say we’re graphic designers, moreover, we’re communication designers. We help people celebrate life’s most meaningful moments,” he says. “Everything we design, we make. Everything is hand crafted and interactive in some way. We feel that every piece really captures people’s attention and it’s engaging.”
Friedland’s office walls are brightly lit and accented with splashes of neon color. In his conference room, neat rows of various invitation packages are displayed, a tiny fraction of the more than 4,000 projects (1 million individual invitations) that Friedland has tackled. In between two conference calls and two client meetings, Friedland speaks openly with FIDMDigitalArts at ease and with grace, obviously very emotionally involved in his craft.
“Invitations capture moments in time and celebrate those moments,” he says. “When you go to an event… you may forget what you eat, you forget what the décor may be… but the invitation becomes the only physical keepsake that connects you to that moment. It gives you a way to keep that memory alive in some respect.”
With a master’s degree in public health from UCLA, Friedland certainly never guessed 25 years ago that his future would lead to a solid career in a creative field. What started as a small greeting card company has developed into a couture creative boutique, defining the aesthetic of some of the world’s most celebrated events.
Naturally, Friedland’s journey has not been without struggle.
“In 25 years, a lot has changed in terms of how people communicate and express themselves– that whole category of social expression has really, really changed,” he says. For a business that is driven by the print form of communication, how are his businesses coping with this new fast-paced, digitally designed world? Through the integration of print and digital, Friedland says, and through education to help people understand the value of print design.
“Technology is here to stay without a doubt,” he says. “But I think there’s going to be a pushback to being plugged in 24/7, how it affects our moods, our social interaction.”
In a world of E-vites and Facebook event invitations, Friedland is fighting to maintain print communication’s relevance, especially when it comes to commemorating the milestone events in one’s life.
“When you do receive something printed, with its textures and processes– the humanity of it really helps to forge connections with people,” he says. “It absolutely makes people feel much more special.”
For aspring designers, Friedland emphasizes the importance of diversifying one’s knowledge of the physical design processes, instead of focusing solely on digital.
“I think a lot of what’s happening is the people coming out [of design schools] are so entrenched in digital art that they don’t have any experience on the mechanics of die cutting, of embossing, of foil stamping,” he says. “It adds a whole other level of richness of design.
“I think there needs to be from a student perspective and people entering the field, in this technology-drive age, to have an appreciation for the print world, and preserving the art of that. “We’re going to be the visual record keepers of what’s going on. Print is a good way of capturing society, how we communicate. [As designers] we are beholden to understand the legacy that led us to digital.”
In addition to this advice, Friedland credits his success to his ability to connect with his clients, to communicate their vision, rather than his own. A successful branding campaign captures the essence of what your client is trying to communicate, he says. In other words, it should be a collaboration between you and your client, rather than an integration of your own design style.
“Being in business, it’s really about how you make your clients feel, how responsive you are to their needs, and to bring your expertise to the table,” he says. “It’s having the creativity, and knowing when to push and when to pull back.”
Sharing his passion for the written word, Friedland’s design firm also runs a non-profit organization called Write On, in which sixth grade students from public and private schools write letters to the president and his family.
Friedland fears that as people’s attention spans and schedules become more overwhelmed with social media and digital technology, the appreciation for print design is diminishing.
“This is the world in which we are living, and these are challenges that need to be discussed and certainly if they’re not, [print design] is going to go away,” he says. “That’s why I think that sharing some of this with future designers, future communicators, future entrepreneurs is really important.”
Certainly, Friedland’s execution of the new and improved 83rd Academy Awards “The Envelope, Please” envelope this year is an indication that we haven’t yet forgotten the value of exquisite print design, reminding designers of Friedland’s slogan, “the pen is mightier than the pixel.”
Friedland is currently redesigning the Website for Marc Friedland Couture Communications/Creative Intelligence (click here), but you may visit the Facebook fan page for more examples of his work here.