Interview with Dz Apolenis from United States

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Dz Apolenis

Dz Apolenis is the Creative Director at Aida Pioneer, a branding agency located in San Francisco. With a wealth of experience exceeding two decades in the realms of branding and communications, Dz specializes in seamlessly integrating creativity with strategy.

Interview With The 2023 MUSE Design Awards Winner – Dz Apolenis

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I'm Dz Apolenis, the Creative Director at Aida Pioneer, a San Francisco-based branding agency. With over two decades of expertise in branding and communications, I specialize in the intersection of creativity and strategy. Design is not just my profession but my passion, serving as a constant wellspring of inspiration.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

In my perspective, design stands as a force capable of reshaping lives, influencing societies, and leaving an indelible mark on our world. It serves as a dynamic instrument that brings people together, sparks inspiration, and instills motivation.

A well-crafted design has the remarkable ability to prompt specific behaviors, and I find immense satisfaction in the sense of mastery and responsibility that comes with harnessing this transformative power.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Situated in the vibrant landscape of San Francisco, California, Aida Pioneer stands as an independent brand design agency celebrated for its creative excellence.

Our focus is on crafting packaging designs that not only inspire affection for your brand but also stimulate product engagement. Moreover, we specialize in developing intricate brand identity solutions, guaranteeing seamless and impactful communication for your business across both offline and online platforms.

At the heart of our team lies a group of impassioned professionals—designers, strategists, and storytellers—devoted to their craft. Our mastery lies in the seamless integration of strategy and design, allowing us to not only create compelling brands but also elevate the art of product promotion. Rooted in a commitment to excellence, we take pride in delivering solutions that transcend the commonplace and leave a lasting impact.

We collaborate with ambitious brands and individuals, building long-lasting partnerships. By working hard, we guarantee the effectiveness of our solutions and always exceed the expected results.

4What does “design” mean to you?
Design possesses a formidable influence over people, and in my role within commercial design, my primary focus is on enhancing efficiency. Through our design solutions, we empower our clients to not only optimize product sales and boost profits but also to fortify and infuse emotion into their brand.
5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
My expertise lies in packaging design and brand identity. It's not merely about aesthetically pleasing visuals and patterns; rather, it revolves around crafting a design system that effectively communicates a message, establishes a meaningful connection with the customer, and ultimately drives an increase in sales.
6To you, what makes a “good” design?
A good design is transformative; it captivates, evokes emotions, and inspires purchases. Moreover, it aligns seamlessly with the brand platform, propelling the brand forward.
7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.
The design style is tailored to suit the target audience of the product or business. However, our focus predominantly revolves around delivering eye-catching, meaningful, and polished design solutions. We steer clear of clutter, avoiding the mishmash of various texts and illustrations. For us, good design is a blend of minimalism and tastefulness, presenting one strong message with a clear and compelling idea.
8Tell us about your design process.

Our journey begins with a thorough discovery phase, where we immerse ourselves in understanding the product, its audience, and the competitive landscape. Inspiration boards loaded with relevant references serve as our compass, guiding the project's vision. With the vision in place, we delve into conceptualizing logos, identities, or packaging designs.

Once the team and client align on a concept, we shift gears to refine the details, investing time in meticulous tailoring. As the project nears completion, we prepare print-ready files, guidelines, and wrap up the case. A pivotal step in our process is overseeing production and crafting all necessary materials for a successful launch, ranging from visualizations and websites to e-commerce banners, cards, social media playbooks, and brand videos if needed.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
Absolutely! Cultural background holds significant importance and profoundly influences our work. Within our team, we bring together individuals from diverse countries and communities, harnessing the power of this richness. This diversity not only opens up new opportunities but also enhances the precision and variability of our solutions.
10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
It's a tremendous success and an honor for us! Achieving Platinum recognition from a professional jury is truly exceptional and holds immense significance for our team. This recognition serves as a powerful inspiration, propelling us to work even harder and embark on the creation of even more impactful projects in the future.
11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
This stands as a formidable branding case, distinguished by a stellar strategy and a brilliant concept. From the ground up, we meticulously crafted every element, from the brand platform and naming to the bottle shape and packaging design, incorporating a thoughtfully designed logo and identity elements. What makes this case truly intriguing is its foundation in the fusion of two seemingly contradictory realms – the worlds of alcohol and sports.
12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

Our task involved reinventing the concept for Scandinavian akvavit, a robust traditional beverage. Faced with a saturated market of akvavits, our objective was to introduce an element of freshness and surprise. The creative spark for this venture came from our team's shared enthusiasm for cocker spaniels.

This unexpected source of inspiration fueled our excitement, making the subsequent creative process remarkably smooth and swift. Delightfully, the client and customers alike embraced and admired both the brand and design.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?
It's still quite early to gauge the full impact of our recent win on our business. However, we're already experiencing positive signs with inquiries from clients and connections with potential partners. We see this as just the initial ripple, and we're hopeful that it marks the beginning of more opportunities and successes in the future.
14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
Design is transformative; it has the power to change lives, elevate our world, and create a better place. It's a realm that revolves around emotions, beauty, and achieving exceptional results when your work is executed with precision and excellence.
15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?
My country is a tapestry of diversity, embracing various cultures and a myriad of individuals. This rich mosaic provides an ideal backdrop for exceptional design and branding—captivating, impactful, and highly effective.
16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?
While it's challenging to make precise predictions, I sense that design solutions will take on a bolder approach, with the resurgence of certain classic trends. Communication is likely to become more straightforward, and there will be a preference for clean design solutions infused with compelling ideas and storytelling.
17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?
Have confidence in yourself, embrace bravery and authenticity. Dedicate yourself to hard work, carefully selecting your finest pieces to submit to MUSE.
18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
Platforms like Behance, Pinterest, and Dribbble serve as excellent sources of inspiration. With a plethora of content available, all you need is a genuine interest to explore and find inspiration.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
Exceptional design is the result of collaborative teamwork between the agency and the client.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?
My greatest inspiration comes from my family and team, as well as the diverse individuals I encounter worldwide.
21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
I have faith in both myself and my team. I place trust in people and consistently strive to achieve the optimal outcome in every endeavor.

Winning Entry

2:2 Akvavit | 2023

2:2 Akvavit | Aida Pioneer and Mikkelsen Distellery

Task: create a modern concept of traditional Scandinavian akvavit. Idea: the score of Scandinavian friendship …
(Read more at MUSE Design Awards)

Dz Apolenis

Aida Pioneer

Dz Apolenis is the Creative Director at Aida Pioneer, a branding agency located in San Francisco. With a wealth of experience exceeding two decades in the realms of branding and communications, Dz specializes in seamlessly integrating creativity with strategy.

Read more about this interview with Silvanna Shen from the United States, the Silver Winner of the 2023 MUSE Design Awards.