Creative agency 212 Fahrenheit specializes in branding, design and spaceships, with a heavy emphasis on the first two and not so much on the latter. In 2016, it was raining awards for the company founded by Albert Buring and Paul Mulder, raking in the prestigious Red Dot Award, the Silver European Design Awards, Bronze, Silver and an Honourable Mention for the International Design Awards.
If you live in Groningen, you’ve almost certainly seen one of their recent exploits. Since the Let’s Gro festival last November, one building on the Grote Markt curiously stands out in terms of color. The pink building known as Grote Markt number 33 is the result of a promotional stunt by 212 Fahrenheit and Studio Plakband, to focus attention on the construction of the new east side of the square and the building itself is the last one standing, soon to be demolished to make way for a new one.
Loosely translated, the banner reads: “Have you ever stopped to dwell on it? The city never stops moving. Even I won’t dwell here much longer.” The successful stunt was intended to create awareness and get out the vote for citizens to decide what the new building should look like.
Paul and Albert met at the Minerva Art Academy in Groningen. “We were actually just average students there. We had good ideas, but the creative execution was something we really learned at Minerva”, Albert explains
After graduation, the two started Studio Pak with another friend, before founding 212 Fahrenheit in 2012. “We made a list with goals, to help us get started and set priorities. We wanted to raise the bar creatively, and also win awards”, Albert continues.
Making history come to life
Both goals on that early list were most certainly achieved. 212 Fahrenheit won a truckload of international design awards, for their ‘Stories to Never Forget’ bookcase exhibition for the synagogue in Appingedam. They came up with a specially designed bookcase, along with 56 unique books, telling the different life stories of Jewish residents in Appingedam, before the Second World War broke out. Tragically, the synagogue is all that remains of a once vibrant Jewish community.
The synagogue is now part of the Stichting Oude Groninger Kerken (foundation for old churches in Groningen). The foundation wanted to tell this story in an original way, and 212 Fahrenheit designed the bookcase, the books and a walking tour to make history come alive.
“It’s really amazing to win so many awards”, Albert says. “That kind of recognition for what you’re doing is so great, not just for us personally, but also in the professional sense, because it earns you trust and confidence, and new clients hire you specifically because of your creative abilities.”
“And that’s something that’s really important in the creative sector”, Albert continues. “The people who hire you, might not always be open to really wild ideas that raise the creative bar. They need to be able to trust our creative opinion, and having awards in your pocket to back those ideas up really helps give you more freedom to do really awesome things.”
But raising the bar and having creative freedom are not the only important things according to Albert. “We also want to create things that are socially relevant and have a real impact. And if we can create extra jobs for people in the process, that’s even better!”