It starts with the anticipation: HYPERFOCUS on the importance of telling the whole story.

We spoke with Paul Watmough-Halim and Jan Stein, co-founders of the design studio HYPERFOCUS. Founded in 2020, we talked to them about how they ended up together, how they get to the essence of a brand, and how to integrate a brand into product experience from day one.

How did HYPERFOCUS come into being?

Paul: I had been working as, design lead for a high profile client on a huge digital project for a few years as a freelancer. Jan had recently closed his design studio that he had been running for the past 10 years. We were both at a bit of a cross roads as to where do we go next. It was over a couple of weeks we sat and discussed our experiences and ideas thad been bubbling away the past years. At some point we started to talk about the perfect design studio, a studio that could execute on amazing brands and roll them out in to digital experiences. We quickly realised with our experiences we could do this. For both of us we felt the design industry was still struggling to make this a reality and deliver on that promise.

BTW it was 2020 and the world was in lock down so the odds were stacked against us .. or so we thought. I mean who starts a company in the middle of a pandemic? Looks like that was destined to be us.


How does Hyperfocus blend brand strategy with design to enhance the product experience?

An ever evolving process, that promotes creativity, dives deep in to the reasons why, we search hard for uniqueness and promote difference. Our projects tend to be bold and brave not only in their design but also in the design execution. Once we have found some of these core ingredients, these will help to lay the foundations for everything that comes. Every interaction, every click, every reward, the tone of voice and ultimately the relationships and memories created by your time spent with the brand.

“If you think about a rollercoaster ride its not just about the excitement of the actual ride. It starts with the anticipation, the wait in the line and as you build expectations, the buzz of the environment around.....”

In your view, what constitutes a meaningful brand experience, and how do you ensure that each interaction reflects the brand's essence?

It’s not just one thing, it is a combination of many parts coming together. If you think about a rollercoaster ride its not just about the excitement of the actual ride. It starts with the anticipation, the wait in the line as you build up your expectation's for whats to come, the buzz of the environment around, the smell in the air that reminds you, you are at a fairground. Feeling safe yet terrified as you enter the ride, ultimately it’s then the stories you share with friends after being scared half to death! It’s the same with branding, we need to create tension and authenticity, we should be building and creating experience’s that are rewarding, memorable and sharable with others.


What is your philosophy and how does it influence the projects you take on and the solutions you provide?

It is incredibly important to us that the companies, people and brands we work with align with our own moral compass as a design studio. We want to work with companies that have good intentions, wether that is environmental, educational or just help to promote positive change. At the heart of any good project there also needs to be a great team, relationships and good vibes are a must when choosing which projects to work on and with who. The mental well-being and health of everyone on our team and the teams we work on is of highest priority.

Can you describe a project that was particularly challenging in terms of brand architecture or visual identity? How did you approach it?

Every project brings its own challenges. There is no real blueprint, even though we have solid processes in place, roadmaps, rituals and timelines. Each project has its own energy and trajectory. It can get messy in regards to architecture if the ground work hasn't been done. We have been strict on this since the beginning so we have managed to deflect any really challenging situations that would lead to a complicated workflow, so far we have been lucky but never say never.

Beyond One

How do you maintain a feeling of interaction and of the tactile when designing for the digital realm?

Make sure brand is at the heart of every interaction, click, decision making and reward the user experiences.

What strategies do you employ to ensure that your brand designs not only meet current needs but also remain relevant in the future?

Brands are not a static entity so visually you can not create ‘a future proof’ design. To be honest why should you? branding is tied to so many things …. technological advancements, cultural climates, world affairs, economics and the companies own growth. It is important to create a growth mentality of ‘always be being in beta’, embracing change and building a brand culture that reflects the companies culture. A brand should be ready to grow, shift and shape, be ready for what the world throw’s at it.

How does your studio's culture contribute to the creative output?

We hire the right people, great design and great projects are the result of a great team. At the end of the day they are the ones responsible for making the projects come to life. We are so lucky to have some incredible talents here at the studio. We all love working together and we are all striving for the same things. Let me name drop here because with out these guys we are only four walls and an internet connection .. Giang, Magnus, Franzi, Anatolji, Jan, resident designer Sebastian, Me (Paul) and our amazing network of lovely designers, devs and writers (you know who you all are.. much love and thank you)

Rainer Schneider

How does Hyperfocus integrate emerging technologies into your brand and identity design projects?

We play, we experiment and remain open minded.

How do you measure the success of your brand experiences, and what feedback do you seek from users to ensure continuous improvement?

We ask how did it make you feel rather than what do think …






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