Everyday we stumble upon various ads and sometimes we ask ourselves who are the people behind them? Today we want to shine a light on Silas Nout and Martin van der Molen, the two creatives behind ‘Studio Mals’. We visited the studio and got a chance to take a peek at what is happening in this Rotterdam based creative cave. We talked about sausages, dreams of collaborating with Jay-Z and their most exciting projects. Read the interview below.
Who is Studio Mals?
Hi guys! We’re studio Mals; a creative studio based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. We craft high quality eye-catching images and film. Things like commercial films, poster campaigns and every now and than the cover for a book or a magazine. Our work is tangible -often handmade- and has a conceptual approach to it. Combined with a playful attitude, it results in a strong colourful visual language. Silas Nout and Martin van der Molen run this studio with great pleasure.
It’s 2016, why on earth do you make everything by hand?
Because it’s fun! We simply love to craft. We like working with different materials and the challenges that brings. We believe something you can actually grab is way more credible than a 3D-render. It’s authentic.That doesn’t mean we never use Photoshop or After Effects. For us they’re just tools to create that extraordinary result we aim for. The starting point is always handmade stuff though. That is what we love.
Tell us about your work space?
The studio is located in the city centre. We have a small kitchen that sometimes serves as a film studio as well. (Which is always a big hassle). We have a clean desk, that’s Martins. We have a messy desk, that’s Silas’. There’s a big fluorescent pink door that leads to a small workshop area where we can build the props and set. The studio is packed with all kinds of props and things we’ve made or collected over the last years. You’ll find a miniature roller coaster, a big neon light tower and our walls are covered with cool posters.
What is your most exciting project of 2016?
We had a blast last year! Choosing one single project would not be right, so we’re doing the 3 best-most funny-exciting-and-awesome campaigns. Make sure to check out the making of’s for some behind the scenes! Let’s start with the campaign we did for VanRolf. A dedicated local chef that makes the best bitterballen & kroketten you’ll ever eat. We designed an identity, a website and also an awesome film. The whole shebang!
The short editorial film we made for ”De Correspondent” is a personal favourite. Clean, simple with a strong conceptual approach. Just how we like it! It came out even better than we hoped for and we really had fun doing it. Also the article they wrote about the making was quite nice!
Last but not least we want to show the campaign we did for Lipton Ice Tea. A series of 3 TV commercials with loads of handmade sets and props. Of course when you do everything by hand things go wrong. Make sure you check out the making of so you can see we had to do some shots a 100 times over.
What things inspire you?
Inspiration for me (Martin) is getting a different point of view. This helps me to look at my own work differently and create things that are new to me. I get inspired by a lot of things. For example, listening to podcasts is something that really gets my mind going. Or going to talks and lectures, to hear passionate people tell about a new project they’re working on. That’s inspiring stuff to me.
Studio Mals is good in inventing new machines. What would be the ultimate machine to work on?
We’d love to go really big and make an incredibly machine that looks really exciting, but does nothing. It would be like a 3 stories high ‘painting’ with tons of blinking lights, moving parts and rattling sounds. You would be amazed just looking at it. It’s would be probably be a useless machine, but it would be just awesome to build!
Is it true that each piece of work contains a little Easter egg, that contains your studio name?
Yes, we try to put our name or some kind of reference to us in where we can. But we are not telling you where to find those eggs! Just take a close look and maybe you’ll find some. It a rappers thing to state your name as much as possible. That’s where it came from, because Martin is a big hip hop fan and wanted to be a rapper once. That career didn’t fly so he became a designer instead.
Food always seems to be a good subject to zoom in on, why is this?
We all love to play with food, don’t we?
You’ve worked for many Dutch artists in the past, what international artist would you like to create the next album cover for?
As a kid I wanted to always wanted to design a limited edition CD cover. Not just a sleeve, but also a special package with weird printing techniques or crazy materials. Something really cool. Stuff like the DuvelDuvel packages designed by Hotel for instance. That really inspired me to design awesome things myself. Unfortunately nowadays most music doesn’t get a hard copy version anymore, and even if that’s the case there’s little money for it. So designing a dope special limited edition package probably won’t happen. But, if Jay Z calls me, I’m happy to design some great packaging!
To us, Rotterdam is a good place for a number of reasons. For starters; It’s affordable to live and work, which comes in handy when you starting up your business. Then there’s the creative culture of working hard and getting things done. That’s inspiring. And of course there are loads of fun things to do, lovely places to eat, shows to watch and things to explore. We have a beautiful city.
With new software, apps and inventions that pop up every day – what do you guys look forward to in the future?
We add a counter culture by doing everything by hand. Of course we use ‘new’ techniques to help us, ( Yay! for laser cutters and 3D-printers) but as we said earlier, handmade stuff is still our favorite thing.And we find that more and more people appreciate that skill and craft.
What’s going to happen in 2017?
We’re moving into an awesome new studio early next year. Which is bigger and fits better to our needs. You’re all invited when it’s done! As far as projects go, the plan is to make more films, commercials and other cool stuff. We’re already working on the campaign for Rotterdam’s finest Kingsday festival Oranjebitter. This will be released somewhere early next year and we’re excited about that. Next to that we’ll be working on a international project we can’t tell you about right now. (Sorry guys!) And of course loads of other fun things will come. I’m sure!