Calle de les Fèlix Meravelles can be considered a quite understated place of Palma. Behind the multi-storey building façades, a stone’s throw from the Plaza de España, one can mainly find average blocks of flats. Business or commercial premises are rather sparse. Even the front door number 7 doesn´t indicate, that here´s currently based one of the hottest ad agencies of the Balearic Islands.
Who expects to find a high-styled office on the first floor with a dozen employees running around, is bitterly disappointed. Behind the door, the visitor sees a rather nicely furnished living room with several shelves on the wall and a large desk with two large computer monitors. “Welcome to ´a-divina’ ”, greets Jaume Vilardell, who runs the agency since a few years with his companion Gabrielle Ripoll. The Mallorcan couple is absolutely familiar with the fact, that a globally operating communication company nowadays only needs an iMac and a high speed Internet connection. “Our customers and partners are scattered all over the globe. Thanks to email and Skype, we can reach them even from our sofa.”
At the beginning of this year “a-divina” got an email from Los Angeles. A television production company asked the Palma-based agency to design a movie poster for the melodrama “The Wronged Man” starring Hollywood beauty Julia Ormond. “It was a blast for us, of course,” recalls Gabrielle Ripoll. In a race against time – in two weeks, the poster had to be ready – both were working day and night on the illustration. The final version satisfied the clients. Since last July, the movie poster designed by Vilardell is placed on streets and walls of houses in and around Los Angeles – the most prestigious success for “a-divina” in its relatively short career.
Jaume Vilardell has learned his craft from scratch. In Palma and London, he studied industrial design and later worked for various advertising agencies on the island, until he went into business for himself a few years ago together with his partner. “It is important to separate our private lives from the job, even if that’s not always easy,” admits Ripoll. She was born in France but grew up in Sóller. After her schooling, she studied business administration in France and then went to Scotland for one year to specialize in import and export industry. However, how do these skills fit together with an advertising agency? “Perfect. Here I can take my business knowledge with creative work under one umbrella. I enjoy this combination.”
“A-divina” shall not be defined as an advertising agency only. “We offer the full range of services, so on from the creation of corporate design, illustration, design and re-design of logos, websites, folders, brochures and events,” Vilardell explains. He is the creative head of the company, Ripoll is responsible for the different organization and production processes.
“Each customer is a project which is run completely individually.” It doesn´t matter whether it is a unique movie poster or the public appearance of an entire company.
Some time ago, Vilardell met the owners of a Mallorcan meat factory, dedicated to the sales of typical pepper sausage Sobrassada for more than 100 years. “After a long mulling over they decided to provide their company a new, modern image,” says Vilardell. After weeks of talks with the owners, “a-divina” developed the design for a new logo. Then the agency started the re-design of brochures and ads and finally launched a new website. “It often takes a company a lot of time to understand how important a consistent, uniform corporate design is and how many incremental changes are required therefore,” says Ripoll. Also, it is not always easy to convince the company´s decision-makers with a first draft.
“Suddenly every employee turns into an expert in colors, shapes and design issues,” Ripoll argues. Not only patience but persuasion is required. “For us it is important that we ourselves are convinced of our proposal, that we like the project itself,” Vilardell emphasizes. Sometimes “a-divina” stubbornly insisted on a typeface for the re-design of a company logo, which the customer didn´t like. “Of course we could have made life easier by giving in. But then we would not have been finally convinced of delivering a good job”, Vilardell explains.
A good advertising design for him is not just a matter of good taste. “It is rather a science in which certain design techniques and rules are applied. It´s got to do with math and precision work.” Before it goes into the creative phase on the computer, a pre-research is necessary. “We act like detectives and try to find out everything about the company, its history and the business competitors,” says Ripoll. Subsequently, a project plan is developed. “Many customers are looked after by us for years, as its corporate identity changes in the course of time.” For example, a company that previously provided only building materials, wanted to sell decorative items and kitchen or full bathroom facilities also. “The company needed a different image than before. And it was our task to find the right thing”, recalls Vilardell.
So far the couple has successfully fulfilled this task and won several design awards in recent years. Last year “a-divina” received the greatest reward. Some months before Gabrielle Ripoll had sent several illustration works of Jaume Vilardell to the renowned “Lürzer Creative Archive” in Switzerland. The members of the jury were so delighted by the drawings, that they included Vilardell in the list of 200 best designers in the advertising world. And this fact ultimately had consequences for the two-man company in Palma. Earlier this year, the production company in Los Angeles commissioned “a-divina” with the design of the movie poster. Of course, whoever walks through Calle de les Fèlix Meravelles can´t imagine anything of that.