Our Co-Founder and Director, Scott Druce was travelling through New York City in 2017 and came across a store that sold stunning brass bookmarks that he knew he had to own! The brand was OCTAEVO and hailed from the Mediterranean — Barcelona, to be precise.
OCTAEVO has a commitment to celebrating Mediterranean heritage and a mission to tell enchanting stories. Established in 2013, the brand produces extraordinary objects for the desk and home. We’re very proud to have an OCTAEVO offering at Milligram.
We chat to founder and designer, Marcel Baer to find out a little more about OCTAEVO and his inspiration.
My main passions have always been travelling and design. My grandfather was a pilot and my father when young, a sea captain on high sea. They both were great storytellers. During my time as a designer in Barcelona, the idea grew to create a brand that unites my great enthusiasm for traveling the Mediterranean and enchanting stories, and transforming them into beautifully crafted products.
Even though the Mediterranean is a rather small sea, the greatness of its history makes it seem larger than it actually is. It´s such a dynamic area on the world map! As the home of four world empires, a great deal has happened along its coastline. Its culture offers such a large amount of inspiration. For OCTAEVO we take inspiration from history, architecture, philosophy, artists but also colours, textures and shapes. Just think of the blue of the sea, the Greek philosophers, the bazaars in Morocco, the movies of Fellini, the French Riviera… the inspiration is infinite!
Q – Where does the name OCTAEVO come from?
OCTAEVO comes from the combination of two words, a Greek and a Latin one. “Octa” refers to the eight principal winds that form the eight-wind compass rose, a tool used by sailors. “Evo” derives from the Latin “Aevum”, referring to the medium between time and eternity — the state of saints in heaven. The “O” refers to the coastline – the idea of starting a journey and coming back full circle to where you began. I like leaving, but coming home is always nice too.
Q – Tell us about your beginnings as a graphic designer and art director?
I studied Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art Graphic Design in London and started to work soon after for various design agencies in London and New York on projects for globally recognised brands in the fields of fashion, beauty and the arts. In 2008 I got a position offered in a design agency in Barcelona as Creative Director and decided to move.
It was pretty much an easy decision. By then I have been involved in a lot projects creating new brands, which nurtured my desire to start my own. It was very much a personal challenge.
Q – Where did your love of stationery come from?
One of my fondest childhood memories is to go the local stationery shop. As a designer, I have always been fascinated with printed products and craftsmanship. Stationery objects are very personal products that stay with the user over a long time, sometimes even forever.
Notebooks capture ideas and thoughts, pens help to formalise these ideas and we are surrounded by our desk objects on a daily basis. Stationery is our little helper, a close friend… I always liked the idea of objects accompanying people in their everyday life.
It´s difficult to say as the brand is constantly evolving. We observe carefully market trends and also analyse feedback from our clients, while trying to come up constantly with exciting and innovative products. I am happy that people perceive OCTAEVO as a very positive, inspiring and high-quality brand — which is how I definitely first envisioned OCTAEVO.
Q – What has been the most influential or proudest moment in your professional life to date?
Probably one of the proudest moments so far at OCTAEVO has been seeing the paper vases at the MoMA Museum in New York. They made a great window installation and I was extremely happy to see them so beautifully displayed.
Also what I am very proud of is to see the OCTAEVO team sharing the same passion and working so well together to achieve a common goal. Influential moments are often travelling and meeting collaborators, clients and also suppliers. Building up great relationships and getting to know so many interesting people around the world gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Q – The paper flower vases have been a huge success at Milligram. Can you tell us about the creative concept about this and how it came to life?
The original idea of the vase was inspired by recycling plastic bottles in a original and creative way. They are eye-catching objects to adorn a desk or dining table and that can be used also as a thoughtful and original gift.
Made of water resistant paper, the vases are printed with elaborate motives, stitched by hand and stamped with gold foil. Simply slip the paper vases over a plastic bottle or a glass vessel and add the flowers. We offer them currently in two sizes, the smaller size comes with a greeting card and envelope.
Q – Can you tell us a business (or life) lesson you learn since starting OCTAEVO?
The most important lesson learned is probably the acceptance of uncertainty. Every day brings new obstacles to overcome.
This is very exciting but often leaves you in situations where you have to react quickly without having
all the answers. Having a “Plan B” is a must.
Q – Tell us about the team behind OCTAEVO and how you select providers, artisans and creatives to collaborate with?
From the beginning I have had the mandate to produce functional and inspiring products of the highest-quality. As a Mediterranean brand we want our products to feel warm. Sourcing the right materials and combining them is a big part of the process.
We invest a lot of time finding the right providers and getting to know them. Spending time at printers and workshops is one of the most rewarding aspects of production. A close relationship shows in the results.
Q – The metal bookmarks are so much fun! Where did this idea come from?
Storytelling is an important part of our products. Therefore a bookmark especially should tell a great story! These finely-cut metal bookmarks are designed to make every user read the glamorous way.
The collection draws inspiration from different iconic Mediterranean sources: the exciting ’60s at the French Riviera, the mysterious formulas of Greek mathematicians, magical talismans, fine cuisine and the mystery’s of the sea.
It’s hard to pick one as each has its own story. It’s funny but in the process of creating them they each develop their own personality. I am attached to all of them.
However probably the most special one for me is the Sea Shore envelope — a kraft paper envelope lined with printed fabric from France. It’s a product that we only sell online in a limited edition. It’s an object created for the ultimate paper lover.
Q – What other designers, creatives or brands do you admire?
What I mostly admire and respect is authenticity and simplicity. I am not really a brand person but admire people who have great passion and love for what they do.
I appreciate if something is consciously made, with great know-how and attention to detail. Some of my favoUrite design objects are from unknown designers and creatives… mostly things gathered on trips of gifted by friends, such as a little grasshopper made of dried leaves from Mexico or a necklace of semi-precious stones from the Atlas Mountains, to name just a few.
Q – Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Do everything with great passion. Understand economics. Play nice.
Q – What three stationery items can you not live without?
Weekly planner, good selection of pencils and pens, post-its.
Q – What are you working on right now and what’s next for OCTAEVO?
New products, bold prints, more colour! We are also just wrapping up a couple of very exciting collaborations. I am personally looking very much forward to the OCTAEVO sailboat, entering the Mediterranean sea in a about a month from now. Watch out for our signature Janus god face print on the sails and wave if you should see us!
Thank you so much for you time, Marcel!
Enjoyed this interview? Read more interviews with other designers and creatives from various brands on Milligram.