Darius Ou is a Singaporean graphic designer and the founder of his own design practice, Studio Darius Ou, as well as Currency Design, together with Melvin Tan. He first rose to prominence because of his self-initiated project, Autotypography, where he created one A4 poster a day, using it as a visual diary of his day-to-day life. This project subsequently allowed Darius to experiment and further push the boundaries of what is considered “good design”, employing a lot of pop culture reference and kitsch elements in his subsequent poster designs.
Darius went on to form Currency Design, together with Melvin Tan (an alumni of ADM) in 2014. Their partnership lasted two years, during which they worked on several projects, including the branding for ADM’s 2016 gradshow. In 2016, Darius went on to set up his own practice, Studio Darius Ou. Since going solo, Darius has gone on to do a residency with Facebook’s Analog Research Lab, as well as working on both local and overseas branding projects. His most recent projects include branding for this year’s edition of the Hong Kong Art Book Fair as well as Resigning Mass, an artwork by Tristan Lim, which he collaborated on.
I decided to write about Darius Ou for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I thought that it would be nice to talk about a local designer for a change. In a climate where works are so easily shared over the internet, it is very easy for us to be exposed to international design standards. However, I feel that it is probably also important to take note of what is happening in our own local design scene and to celebrate the works of our local designers. Additionally, I had actually applied to intern with Darius over the summer and while I did not manage to secure an internship with him, I did get a very encouraging email from him and that is really nice considering how some studios don’t even bother responding (which also I know is standard practice but like that’s why it makes Darius’ reply a lot more meaningful I guess).
One thing that led me to wanting to intern with Darius (and also Currency Design) was their experimental approach to design. A quote taken from an interview that he did with Justin Zhuang for AIGA resonated with me:
“If we always follow the rules set by designers who lived in the 20th century—but we live in the 21st century—then what are we blindly following?”
After my second year, I was struggling a little with my design style and I started to wonder about all these design principles that were being taught to me. While I believe that these design principles are important, I believe that we need to learn how to experiment and to break these “rules” as well and that is something that I want to work on as I progress on (hopefully) in this career.