With his artistic style, Timo Bess, Visual Designer at SAP, definitely stands out from the standard IT crowd.
Originally a graphic designer, Timo used to work for agencies before joining SAP a good five years ago, taking care of the visual consistency of UIs. After a few years, though, the lack of creative freedom left him rather uninspired.
Therefore, when other teams in his area were desperately looking for somebody to support them with visuals, Timo was more than happy to provide his expertise, creating logos, posters, flyers, roll-ups, and websites to brand entire campaigns. “I began to work on projects nobody wanted to take on,” Timo remembers.One of those projects was the then new SAP Design Talks series intended to give head designers from top-notch companies a stage to talk about their work. A classic win-win for Timo: designing for a design event. Diagonal is the new black
“When I started to work on the concept, I first looked at what’s already there. How does SAP promote things? What do the visuals look like? Then I thought about the aim of the concept and what it should communicate,” Timo describes his approach.
He experimented with various fonts and colors for the Design Talk material, keeping in mind that, in his profession, less is often more. A principle he wished overzealous decor fans would heed: “The biggest misconception about design is that it’s about taste, when it’s really about solving a problem,” Timo emphasizes. It’s a craft before it’s an art, and above all, it’s a serious profession.
Finally, Timo incorporated the official SAP logo, stripping it down to the 45° angle of its background. The birth of a hallmark. Even colleagues who have never been to the Design Talks know the unique visuals.
Simple, efficient, and memorable. A view that was obviously shared by the jury of the Red Dot Award, one of the most renowned international design awards. From more than 8,000 entries in the category of Communication Design (Product Design being the other award category), they chose Timo as one of the winners.
And it doesn’t end there! Shortly after winning the Red Dot, Timo learned that he also won the prestigious German Design Award.
The awards make him proud but not pompous. “I’m grateful that people appreciate my work,” Timo says. They also prove that neither a highly technical environment, nor anything else, would compromise his creativity.
Timo appreciates that SAP gives him more leeway than his former agencies did. Nevertheless, he thinks that companies still don’t fully assess the impact of visual concepts. He thinks they’re too significant to be left to any ‘ole’ colleague. And he might have a point. Nowadays, every inch of a grocery store is carefully planned by marketing psychologists. Nobody would let the shop assistant do the store design just because they work there.
Help the world “run better”
Even though he loves his job, Timo’s ultimate dream would be to design for ideas that help solve the world’s most pressing environmental and social issues in innovative ways.
Until then, Timo continues to help SAP “make the world run better”; yet, he would love to do that in a team with other designers, instead of being a “lone wolf” in a User Experience team. Bouncing ideas off each other usually leads to the best solution for a project, as Timo knows from his agency days: “I learned that the outcome is always better if you work together, compared to what you come up with by yourself.”