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[Herald Design Forum 2021] Mitch Paone expands design realm driven by love for music

The term “kinetic identity” created by DIA Studio combines motion design and branding, inspired by two artistic disciplines of music and design.

Mitch Paone (DIA Studio)
Mitch Paone (DIA Studio)
DIA Studio, a creative agency based in New York and Geneva, has evolved over the past decade as a company that helps create brand identities, cooperating with globally influential entities such as Squarespace, Spotify, Adidas, Facebook, Nike, Balenciaga and more.

“Our studio created the term ‘kinetic identity’ around 2016. We made a major discovery when creating works for A-Trak and Nike that completely shifted our entire creative process which were inspired by a lot of my interests,” Mitch Paone, creative director of DIA Studio, said in an email interview with the Korea Herald.

DIA Studio specializes in corporate and cultural visual identity systems, graphic design and typography. Since it was established in 2008, the design studio has diversified its portfolio to cover the full spectrum of what a design studio could offer, from directing commercials to creating brand identities. The agency’s primariy focus is on motion graphics and design for commercials, TV and films.

“Music, choreography, generative design, film, and typography all sort of melt together into a unique process that we’ve perfected at DIA. My love for music and design ultimately fused to create the ‘kinetic identity’ process,” he said.

While Paone heads DIA Studio, he also performs as a jazz pianist which in turn inspires him as a designer and director of the design studio. As a designer and jazz performer, Poane considers creating a design system and writing music go hand in hand.

“The real beauty comes when you treat the design with a sense of improvisation and flexibility like a jazz musician. Stretch, bend, distort the system to produce unexpected moments. So the sense of rhythm, time, and improvisation is as alive in DIA’s design work as it is in my piano playing. These passions merge as one to serve as an infinite source of inspiration,” he said.

Among the projects Paone and his team have commissioned, he chose rebranding Squarespace in 2018 as the strongest project that the team worked together. The American website building company was turning 10 and was looking to refine their brand at the time.

“It contains every possible facet of the studio’s skill into one project. A rich kinetic design system, a custom font, and even original music. Squarespace gave us full trust to take creative risks on this project and I think it really paid off,” he said.

Although there were some struggles when the COVID-19 pandemic situation worsened, it did not affect much in the way the team functions, as the members were already working remotely before, he said.

“One positive result is that a fancy office for client meetings no longer became necessary. And working remotely is no longer a risk, but a norm,” he said regarding the pandemic situation.

Paone has kept his own value as a designer -- “Stay light” -- to keep himself inspired, and he rejects comparing with other designers or design studios, in order to stay original.

“While we take our work seriously, we should not take ourselves too seriously. Don‘t compare yourself to other designers or studios. Make time for yourself outside of design and work. Those are the spaces for inspiration,” he said.

Paone will speak about how DIA Studio has developed a new approach to designing identity systems at the Herald Design Forum 2021, scheduled to take place Oct. 14 in Seoul.

By Park Yuna (

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