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Meet the Team: Mark Kiewiet Talks Synaesthesia & Design

Vani Krishnamurthy

Vani can hear, feel and talk with Google. She is our digital marketer and an absolute ninja at search engine optimisation. Adventurous at heart, Vani loves to take road trips whenever the holidays roll around to discover new places. Classically trained in dancing and passionate about cooking, she is quite the natural in a whole host of pursuits.

Vani Krishnamurthy
18 Aug 2017 • 4 min read

Mark Kiewiet is our senior designer at Mo Works Creative Agency. Something you probably don’t know about Mark is that he has synesthesia.

Mark Kiewiet is our senior designer at Mo Works Creative Agency. Something you probably don’t know about Mark is that he has synaesthesia.

For those who don’t know, synaesthesia is a condition in which your brain makes an automatic connection between certain senses that normally don’t have anything to do with each other.

Mo Works: Right. What sort of connections does synaesthesia lead your brain to make?

Mark Kiewiet: In my case, numbers and cities are automatically and instantly associated with a colour. It’s not an active decision. I don’t choose the colour and I can’t influence it or change it; it’s just the way it is.

MW: And do you see the colour or feel it?

MK: I see it, but not literally, if that makes any sense.

MW: It doesn’t…

MK: The word in front of me is basically that colour. It’s not like the whole world goes that colour all of a sudden! That would be cool.

MW: Do you remember how you first discovered it?

MK: I think my mother noticed it when I was a kid and I began saying things like, “Let’s go to the brown village!” and “Thank God tomorrow is red!”. She was obviously pretty confused, as was everyone else. It wasn’t until much later on when I was studying art that I came across synaesthesia and learnt that it’s actually fairly common.

MW: Do you believe that in someway synaesthesia led you to design?

MK: I’m not sure if it has led me here. I think it’s more that I was born with a creative mind so exploring the realm of design was sort of inevitable. Since I was a kid, I have spent a lot of my time drawing.

MW: Do you believe that it has had an impact on your design?

MK: I don’t think it has an impact on my design. Considering synaesthesia is very personal, I don’t believe it could really add anything to my work—it’s not universally understood. Even others with synaesthesia have completely different associations with colours.

That being said, researchers have linked synesthesia to creative problem-solving when dealing with abstract concepts so maybe subconsciously it does help me in that way.

MW: Do you believe there are any reasons behind the associations?

MK: I’ve always wondered this myself, of course. I don’t believe there is any real reason, but I can make up some that sound plausible. For instance, Saturday and Sunday are grey and white whereas the rest of the weekdays are bright colours. This might have something to do with my busier weekdays as a kid. Wednesdays are yellow and black, and during my school years Wednesday’s were our half-days.

The question that inevitably follows is what about all the cities I’ve never been to but can attribute a colour to? It’s a mystery to me.

Meet the team design synesthesia blog2 w640

MW: I’m going to throw some words at you. Could you please let us know what you see?

Wednesday – Yellow and black

Friday – Red

71 – Green (7) and white (1)

42 – Red (4) and light grey (2)

Auckland – Light blue

Melbourne – Yellow

Amsterdam – Red

MW: Which project has been your favourite from what you have worked on at Mo Works?

MK: As you can imagine, I’m an artist/designer hybrid so my preference in design is illustrative design. But I do enjoy every aspect of design. It’s all about creating experiences and delivering real impact and real emotion.

At Mo Works, we work with a lot of founders who have exhibit massive amounts of passion for their companies and what they want to achieve with their work. I’m always excited when there is an opportunity to explain that visually and I can think of at least two soon-to-be completed website projects where such an opportunity has presented itself. You will just have to hold out a tiny bit longer to see the results!

MW: “What do you find gratifying about being a designer?”

MK: I think it’s an incredibly cool job to turn thoughts into reality, where the only limitation is your imagination, as cheesy as that sounds.

I wish I could explain to those who don’t see themselves as creatives how awesome it is to create new things. Design is everywhere. From the typeface this is written in to the colour choice of that chocolate packaging. Most of what you see was at some point carefully designed by a colour-loving freak like yours truly.

Did Mark’s passion for design grab your attention? Why not take a peek at some of our creative work?

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