milk x magazine: feature on ceft and company plus interview with creative director ucef hanjani

excerpts from an interview with creative director ucef hanjani in the hong kong based publication milk x magazine:

ceft and company:
"what is ceft and company... it's a question we are still trying to put an answer to. ceft and company is an oddity of sorts. we are not a design studio or an ad agency. the best possible explanations were given to us by our client at dior, which were, “a dream lab” or “creative lab”. no place i know of, can invent/implement a strategy and execute it in a polished manner as we do. it’s the brains behind the beauty that is the ultimate goal. the challenge is to create meaningful design and dialogue which will always be in demand. design and advertising as we have come to know it, is dead. brands are looking for meaningful ideas that can be implemented into marketing and operations across the board."

how ceft and company works:
"…since we base our work & strategy on the DNA of each brand that we work on, unlike most creative agencies, we do not force-fit a house-style onto every project. the work is fluid and evolves from the core of each project..."

"…thankfully the period of decoration and meaningless glossiness of the past decade is very much over"

not unlike an architect we have to understand the site, the environment where we are building, the culture surrounding the local, and the person who will inhabit the space. all of this directs the work through a filter of aesthetic that is ours alone."

“what we do best? … we dream up ideas and find solutions.”

"i searched for music, films, books and photographs that were different than what was readily available, and seemed personal to me. i think the desire for this “otherness” is at the core of creativity... we are never satisfied when it comes to creativity. everything has to constantly evolve and change; otherwise it rots, not to mention that it becomes just a job."


"those who inspire us do so with their attitude towards the world and life
more than through their work"

"...there are many but these are as relevant as any other; jean luc godard, nick drake, hiroshi sugimoto, suicide (the band), tadao ando, george porcari, yves klein, raymond lowe, to name a few. our inspiration and thoughts are updated weekly on:

how it all started:
"opening our own agency in 2004 was the greatest step in our professional career... our team of collaborators is over 200 people, but the core team is small. our company’s modular structure allows us to develop work that is not based on our abilities alone. we are first and foremost thinkers and communicators before we are designers. we dream of ideas first and only then put the best team together to produce it. the services we have executed thus far for our clients across the world are; advertising campaigns, music, spaces, social networking websites, brand philosophies, books, packages, cultural infiltrations, photographs, identities, films, conceptual objects, apparel, programs, and magazines... not to mention espionage."

understand the brands goals:
"successful communication is one that gets talked about and tells a story by visuals, (or otherwise) that endures. the effect is not much unlike a great film that makes you think after you leave the theater. it stays with you and you think about it beyond the point of contact. this is not a formula and it’s not an easy task. you have to excavate a brands story, find the interesting part and create an enduring script about it."

"...before you start you have to understand the goals of each communication. you can risk everything by trying to say everything and saying nothing. you need to focus and develop a strategy, select priorities and cut back the rest. be ready and be determined to cut everything that is unnecessary."

how do you know when it's done:
"there are 3 tests, in my opinion, that tell you if the work is done and done well:
1- is the work created believable/relevant to the brand.
2- as a creative, are you happy with it?
3- will the result achieve your initial goals of communication to that audience?”

what about the future:
"my prediction for the future of advertising and design? while core principles will always be in demand, one has to evolve or retire. in 2010, our excitement and focus will be less on traditional forms of communication and more on strategic consulting, films, campaign extensions, content, web applications, events, music, programs, and conceptual products. this will not be anything new for us, we did perhaps the first online commercial contest when brands barely had websites and have done more work in this area than any other. this has simply come into focus as more and more brands have realized the potentials..."

about milk x magazine:
milk x is a hong kong based publication, established in 2001. milk magazine focuses on bringing top talents from around the world to an international audience concentrating on fashion, culture and design.