Founders Interview

Marit Filger – 27. August 2023
Business, Re.Frame

Female-founded and purpose-driven: Re.Frame Studio is an interdisciplinary strategic design studio and collective launched in the summer of 2023. In this Insights article, founders Tanja Hildebrandt and Marit Filger answer eight questions to introduce themselves and the vision of Re.Frame Studio.

Who are you, as professionals and as people?

Tanja – Professionally I am a communication designer and strategist, but also a concept designer and workshop leader. I really enjoy interacting with other people and learning from each other. Particularly when it comes to sustainability – that’s been my north star since I was a student. When it comes to design, creativity and sustainability, I can’t really separate professional and private interests either. Only leisure time, however, is my enthusiasm for bouldering. I really enjoy going to concerts, I’m a music enthusiast and I love cycling. I am a good-mood-person and a too-much-thinker – and now also a founder!

Marit – I am a founder now too, wow! And a brand strategist, communicator and creative. These days I would add value-driven in front of that, because that has become the clear focus in my projects and collaboration with clients. In the last few years I have also been able to bring my love of art, design and interiors more and more into my work. My enthusiasm for stand-up comedy in run-down bars, however, not yet. Other than that: I have lived in many places and want to see so much more of the world.

What was your motivation to start Re.Frame Studio?

Marit – We need to use our talents for good and earn karma points as a creative industry!

Tanja – Truly! Since university I see how communication, marketing and design are used in a negative way by big corporations with money. This has to change: with transparency and honest good intentions! At the same time, we also need to work differently. It can’t be that it’s nearly impossible to find a fairly paid job, get visibility for your work, or build a portfolio during internships or after graduation. My own experience here is my drive to counter this.

Marit – I feel that very much. The agency world has burned me out and disillusioned me, and the last few years at the latest have shown me that change requires action at all levels. Not only do we need to set value-driven priorities in our private lives, but especially where we put the most time, energy and creative force: our work. We must not only rethink the system, but reimagine it and align work with our life.

How did Re.Frame Studio come to be?

Tanja – It has been clear to me since my studies that I want to work in a collective and in the field of sustainability. I’ve also wanted to start a business for years – just not alone, and sadly I never found the right person. At some point I asked myself if there first has to be the person or first the framework. So with the name Re.Frame and a preliminary website I set the frame, or as Marit would say: ‘Spoke my idea into the universe and manifested it’. And that worked, because in the fall of 2022, Marit and I ran into each other at Impact Hub Hamburg. We noticed from the first exchange that the connection was there. We had similar ideas and goals and also liked each other as people. The initial considerations then went quickly and from 2023 we worked concretely on implementation. We thought together about what exactly Re.Frame is, how our studio looks visually and how we work as a collective. Because even if we start Re.Frame Studio as a team of two, many other creatives will join us in the future.

Why a studio and collective and not an agency?

Marit – As discussed up and down in business and creative publications: The agency model doesn’t work. It’s too cost- and structure-intensive, and clients want more agile, modular models where they can get the expertise they need at transparent, fair prices. And that’s exactly what our collective makes possible. Beyond that, it has to be about how we work. Collaborative, appreciative and empathic – we all need to see ourselves as people first, and then the performance we deliver.

Tanja – If we work together as equals, then saying no, questioning and insisting on sustainability is part of that. We all need to motivate ourselves to make better choices for society and the planet. And it doesn’t matter if we’re at the beginning, in the middle of the process, or rethinking everything. As a studio and collective, we put impact over profit.

What do you value about the other person?

Marit – Tanja and I agree on all important principles and values and complement each other in our professional and interpersonal strengths. Tanja’s empathic nature balances out my direct personality. She brings patience and calm that I don’t have, and questions decisions and processes. Tanja counters my creative chaos with order and structure – something you might not think of us with her as a designer and me as a strategist, but it’s true. Tanja has schedules and details firmly in mind and makes all our clients feel seen and understood.

Tanja – What I really appreciate about Marit is that she has an incredibly analytical and strategic view on everything. That always provides a lot of inspiration, food for thought and new perspectives. We both give each other space for all our strengths and the mistakes we make. We learn from and with each other and support the other in all her endeavors. Marit is extremely enthusiastic and brings a lot of drive. When she does something, she does it with everything she has to give, and that’s something I really value in people.

What kind of projects would you love to work on?

Tanja – I imagine that we don’t work at all in relation to one industry, but have very diverse projects. That’s why I can’t name a specific brand or project that I would like to work for. The challenges will vary in size, but we will always pursue the same goal: to frame the change and transform things for the better.

Marit – I’ve worked in industries where social and ecological sustainability didn’t matter, and I understand from a business perspective why rethinking can be hard. But guess what? Change is happening and we should all hurry to be part of it. From a one-person startup where we bring in the outside strategic perspective that turns an idea into a business, to a market leader where we inspire new perspectives through workshops and a collaborative process.

Tanja – That’s precisely the point: we don’t want to lecture, we want to inspire and empower. Sustainability and transformation can and should be fun.

Why is now the time for Re.Frame Studio?

Marit – As designers, creatives and strategists, we are part of the problem and have a responsibility to make a lasting change in our industry – yesterday, not tomorrow; so ‘now’ is relative. When it comes to radical transparency, we are late. When it comes to intersectional feminism, we are late. And so on. Fortunately, we have largely woken up and understand that it is five to twelve on all issues around social and ecological sustainability. We sincerely hope that the idea and values behind Re.Frame Studio will soon be the norm, not a shake-up.

What is the vision for the future?

Marit – The digital world is getting more and more exciting and gives us so many creative possibilities. At the same time, for me personally, that makes it even more thrilling to go into the physical space. To bring brands into spaces, to develop interior and exhibition concepts, and to bring people together and let them experience emotions.

Tanja – People generating impact together is the vision! I want us to become a healthy-growing collective that not only implements purpose-driven projects, but also makes a difference and drives change through the way we work.