Realize What You Truly Enjoy

founder of Viz

by Elizabeth Lavis


26 Jul 2023

Gold in Magazine & Newspaper Design for Graphic Design 2023
 “The best design combines sophistication analytics clarity and liveliness”

The best advice that Marina Braem, founder of Viz, ever heard was from her father. “During my final thesis, my father advised me to realize what I really enjoy, then I got top marks,” she says. “Then, I invested in a work coach for my professional leadership positions. I can recommend this investment to everyone because there are always options.”

Viz bills itself as a design house specializing in information design for knowledge communication and visual storytelling, working with think tanks, universities, and large companies. Braem herself is an information designer, lecturer, and entrepreneur who takes a focused and nuanced approach to the design process, fusing strategy with creativity for great results. “The best design combines sophistication, analytics, clarity, and liveliness,” she says.

The first phase involves gathering facts and soliciting expert advice on the proper direction. “I always work very closely with the experts and specialists when we develop topic content,” she says. “My design approach is to get to the bottom of the factual information. I analyze, research, and delve into it. This process involves a lot of thinking. From this foundation, I develop the meta-level, which involves plenty of creativity.”

The Invisibles

Braem’s drive and momentum date back to childhood. “When I was growing up in Switzerland, I alternately wanted to write books and host radio shows,” she says. “On Sunday mornings, I littered the breakfast table with papers, instructions, stories, and markers until my parents got up. I was always up way too early, annoying everyone with my restlessness.” 

She honed in on three passions in her teenage years, focusing on drawing, classical music, and endurance running. Braem decided her professional path lay in the design world at 15, and that became her primary focus, although she still derives inspiration and drive from her other interests. “One of my heroes is Adebe Bikila,” she says. “He won the first Olympic gold medal and is the only athlete to cover the marathon distance barefoot. I am fascinated by his attitude and greatly admire his mindset. They don’t talk much, but they pull out the unthinkable.”

Braem’s work with clients occasionally deals with pulling off feats precisely because it’s so detail-oriented and abstract. Building client trust is a huge part of her work. “Since I often work in complex factual subject areas, the design remains abstract for a very long time until the content and concept are clearly aligned. This requires a capacity for abstraction on the part of my clients. It takes a great deal of trust and commitment to get involved.”  

Braem balances the stress of design work with rest, fitness, and music. “If I am in the middle of my design process, I sometimes work at night, documenting my progress through daily and weekly written plans,” she says. “When I complete projects or phases, I celebrate my recovery periods because the development phases are always intense. Endurance sports and music regulate me. I’m the drummer of a beasty punk rock band.” No matter what new directions Braem finds herself moving in, it’s clear that she’ll approach them all with passion, drive, and a deep desire to excel.

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