Miloby Ideasystem stands out from its peers both in its approach and its inspirations. The design firm's projects encompass the fields of architecture, corporate branding, product packaging, and Web design. And Miloby's portfolio varies as much as its two founders, Milana Kosovac and Tobias Lundquist. Kosovac grew up in Canada, where she studied both economics and architecture. After brief stints with Dominique Perrault, Michael Rotondi, and Frank Gehry, Kosovac worked on set designs for films and music videos. "Set production was a great opportunity to take my background in architectural theory and model-making and use it in the real world," Kosovac says. Kosovac's next role was as creative director of a company that aided the design and development of new consumer products.
Lundquist, born and raised in Sweden, received his architecture degree from SCI-Arc, in Los Angeles. After working in Daniel Libeskind's office, the architect gained experience at large firms, including SCB in Chicago and SOM in New York. "By working at larger firms, I had the opportunity to apply design to large-scale projects," explains Lundquist.
When the partners launched their firm in 2001, they took up residency at the Essex Street Studio [record, January 2004, page 50] -- a cooperative workspace for fledgling firms in New York's Lower East Side -- and held business hours at night when their day jobs ended. Six months later, however, they found alternate office space and focused completely on Miloby. "It was a sink-or-swim situation," says Kosovac. "Neither of us have jobs in academia, as is often the case at young firms that financially support themselves." The two architects decided to focus their approach on small-scale projects for their clients' businesses.
Kosovac explains, "We're more likely to attract a client through a smaller project, such as creating their business card. By building on that relationship, we ultimately prove ourselves as designers." Both partners agree that their clients have begun to understand the benefit of having Miloby work on all the elements of a company's public face.
In one instance, the firm was hired to develop the branding of a Manhattan-based firm. The team began with creating the logo and soon were commissioned to take charge of essentially all the media, including print ads, the Web site, and promotional gifts. Within the same year, Miloby was asked to design the company's offices. "They recognize the value of our providing them with continuity and a seamless experience that also extends into their built environment," Lundquist adds.
The duo enjoys the mix of the distinct yet connected disciplines. Lundquist says, "While the technical skill set may vary depending on the project, it still comes down to creating good design." They point out that their urban location is partly the reason for this business plan. "There's a limited amount of new architecture that can be built in the city," says Kosovac, "and rather than do something mediocre or have a firm that specializes in redesigning bathrooms, we want everything we do -- in both media and architecture -- to be high quality."