HAWRAF is weird. Not bad weird. More like, interesting weird. First, there’s the name. What does it mean?
“When we were about to start this small entrepreneurial effort, we collectively made a sound. And that sound was ‘HAWRAF,’” explains Andrew Herzog, who co-founded the New York City design studio last December with Carly Ayres and Nicky Tesla. “And that became this word for a new studio that was about to exist.”
HAWRAF (it’s pronounced exactly how it’s spelled) grew out of a collaborative relationship that the trio forged while working together at Google Creative Lab. And even though it’s only half a year old, HAWRAF has already earned the attention of Vice and Fast Company for its strange activities.
Take, for example, the time the HAWRAF team stayed up for 26 hours straight to complete 26 creative projects in an hour each, live-streaming every second of it.
And then there was the time Herzog draped live moss over fire hydrants and subway stops throughout his Manhattan neighborhood.
Experimentation, interactivity, and creative accessibility are all central to the HAWRAF way — inasmuch as there is a “HAWRAF way.” Ayres, Herzog, and Tesla are largely figuring things out as they go, and letting anyone who’s interested watch as they do it.
The HAWRAF trio talked to Mailchimp in their lower Manhattan office about radical transparency, creative accessibility, and why dying a hero is better than surviving as a villain.
How was the idea for HAWRAF born?
Herzog: It started during conversations we were having at Google Creative Lab. We were talking about what a design studio should be in 2017.
Ayres: The conversations were based on our different experiences — even our experiences with the studios we collaborated with while at Google. We had a lot of ideas we wanted to try, like, “What if everybody collaborates from the beginning, regardless of their discipline? What if roles are somewhat amorphous?” We had this list of ideas, and starting this studio of our own was a sandbox to try out some of those concepts.