Vallée Duhamel, Ganz Toll, AH — HA and DVTK.

Papel & Caneta
5 min readSep 27, 2015

Many young people believe having a successful career in the creative industry means working in a global agency and being awarded at Cannes. They actually have a point. That is indeed one of the best-known, certainly busiest, paths. At the same time, other young people will challenge themselves to follow a different and less predictable direction. To them, much more important than the finish line is the freedom to create their own journey.

Escaping the standard to break new paths isn’t always an easy task, though. After all, with the unknown comes fear, doubt, and uncertainty.

That’s when faith needs to meet courage and, more often than not, friendship. For that reason, I’d like to share in this article four cases that now inspire me and, of course, can also inspire you. Four creative studios brought to life when two friends decided to work together. Not only did they start something new, but have also shown the world it just takes two things to invent the future: believe in yourself and have fun.

From Montreal, Lisbon, London and Buenos Aires: Julien, Eve, Carolina, Catarina, Kim, David, Pablo, and Santiago.

1. Vallée Duhamel

Despite working together since 2008 when they moved to Berlin, it was in 2013 Julien Vallée and Eve Duhamel decided to get back to Canada and start Vallée Duhamel, one of the most experimental studios I’ve seen to date. With clients such as Lacoste, Hermes, Coca-Cola, MTV, Google and AOL, they currently shine a light on the creative potential emerging in Montreal from an essentially handmade process that has delighted the world with videos, gallery installations, and workshops, whose primary intent is to share their passion for tactile work.

“After developing our mind and work in Berlin, we were able to take a few steps back and see even more clearly what Montreal had to offer to us and what we could offer to it! There is such a fertile and effervescent design and art scene in Montreal. We love working with the people here so much that we try as much as possible to bring every single project we can to be produced here. We are very proud of our city and all the talented people we have the opportunity to work with locally.”

2. Ganz Toll

Meanwhile, since 2008, another studio has amazed everyone and opened doors through new paths in Buenos Aires. Who are they? Ganz Tool. Created by Pablo Colabella and Santiago Fernández, it all started when they felt they needed more freedom to experiment on side projects — that is, out of the routine of the studios where they worked. Since the very beginning, they wanted Ganz Tool to be an action group, or a place where anything could be done. As long as it was fun. Today, in addition to creating for several Argentine agencies, they also develop projects for brands such as Reebok, Nickelodeon, UNICEF, MTV Latin America, Pringles, among others.

3. AH — HA

At the same time, in 2011, when the Portuguese crisis reached its peak, Catarina Carreiras and Carolina Cantante decided it was time to change the way people looked at Graphic Design in Portugal, especially in Lisbon. While most design projects were in the hands of large agencies and the few studios that had been around were so focused on cultural projects, they wanted to go further: to help new entrepreneurs who were full of ideas and in need for branding at a reasonable fee. So they began working with friends of friends or in pro bono projects, helping more and more people. From then on, things just happened. Today, AH — HA stands out as one of the most interesting studios not only in Portugal but also in Europe.

“Studio AH-HA started as an experiment. We never took ourselves too seriously, and we think that is why things have been working out.”


Last but not least, I’d like to talk about two young people (and friends) who, four months ago, teamed up to start a place that has no doubt become one of the most surprising things happening in the British creative industry. He’s David Broner. She’s Kim Boutin. Together they are DVTK, a studio for digital experiments.

They met in 2008 while studying Graphic Design in Paris. Having created several projects since then, it was only this year they decided to move to London and enter a new stage. Even in such a short time, brands like Kenzo and Uniqlo now feature in their portfolio. And the works are amazing.

Of course, other studios from different places have also done very special things. However, these are just some of the cases I currently feel most inspired by, for they not only represent courage, talent and creativity, but also make me think about three things:

1. Even a small studio can make a big difference.

2. A friend may be all you need to take the first step.

3. Having a purpose of collective change is fundamental.

Be it Vallée Duhamel, Ganz Tool, AH-HA, or DVTK, we’re talking about small studios, but born with a purpose of transformation. After all, the most important thing to them isn’t having a famous, award-winning studio, but being free to show the world their own path. Experimental. Changeable. Built by young friends who want to make a difference in their own way.

Helping each other. Joining experiences. Inspiring others. So that, together, they can make possible what so far seemed almost impossible.


Global Mapping

AH — HA (Lisbon) — Ganz Toll (Buenos Aires) — DVTK (London) — Vallée Duhamel (Montreal)

André Chaves is a Connector at Papel&, collaborative project that has been connecting game-changing leaders from the creative industry so everyone can inspire each other and work together to make positive changes happen.



Papel & Caneta

Papel & Caneta is a nonprofit collective consisting of leading creatives who work with activists to create empathy for overlooked or unfairly judged communities