About Albert Salamon

Albert Salamon is an acclaimed graphic designer. He graduated from The Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, the Industrial Design Department, where later, over a period of 8 years, he had lectured in the field of visual communication. Albert has also worked commercially in many different areas creating logos, visual identification systems, city information systems, books, posters, packaging, websites, mobile apps, and clockfaces. At TTMM Albert is the founder and chief designer, responsible for creating new products, apps, and utilities. Albert has won several design awards including the FWA, A Design Award, Indigo Award, Good Design, and The Design of the Year for Culture Award, granted by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, which is a special award within the GOOD DESIGN Awards (DOBRY WZÓR).

Interview with Albert Salamon

Albert Salamon ("AS") interviewed on Tuesday, 27 March.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

AS : For 20 years – since graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw at the Faculty of Industrial Design, I have been dealing with visual communication design. I’ve created a lot of signs and visual identities for companies and exhibitions, labels for packaging, book designs, posters, calendars, and also co-created the city information system for Warsaw. I worked as a design teacher at the Faculty of Design for 10 years. The experience of creation was constantly subject to two pressures: on the one hand, the tastes of customers, people who did not have creative education, which resulted in conflict; and, on the other hand, I experienced an almost instant transitoriness of created projects, whose significance was constantly replaced with new designs, outdating the work done. That's why I started working on creating my own TTMM brand. I focused on creating and developing a "face of time" in the form of software for smartwatches as well as for smartphones and computers. This activity has brought me a series of international and nationwide prizes and the satisfaction of uncompromising freedom to create solutions that not only serve and please people but can become a significant, long-lasting contribution to culture.

How did you become a designer?

AS : What pushed me in this direction was a combination of three things: music, SF and the "desire of a different world". From the age of 7, I sang in the choir for 13 years. My active contact with music led me to composing music with the help of music programs and synthesizers. I perceived the moment of transformation of notations and sequence codes (micro programs) into sound (MUSIC) as the magic of creation, not only in the dimension of harmony but also colours. Something invisible and abstract (music) was created, woven from many threads of sound, influencing the imagination and emotions of the listener. SF (science fiction) - this is my first love. I was raised on international SF literature (Dick, Asimov, Lem) as well as on the cinema (Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET). The third component were my high school friends who used to draw futuristic spaceships, war machines, robots and worlds of the future, and later they also became students at the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP). I followed in their footsteps and discovered that ASP would allow me to create the world of the future - the way I want it.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

AS : In the past few years, I have changed priorities and I do not work for clients anymore but directly for people (recipients). I create and develop the TTMM brand, which produces software images of time. My priority is to introduce new solutions into the real product - in my case, a smartwatch screen and hardware. Each product is different, it differs in quality, type and resolution of the screen, and the way of interaction. I try to bring a new look and some new, previously non-existent value in each project. Sometimes this is done at the formal level, sometimes it is a combination of form and description, or name of the face of time, through which I try to draw the attention of the recipient to some paradox or solution, e.g. SPLITTMM or 9TTMM. I would like the simplicity of my projects to withstand the passing of fashions, and for them to remain "good" in their simplicity and accuracy of the original composition.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

AS : A large part of the TTMM projects was created inadvertently - i.e. while reading a book or watching a movie I sketched an idea that came to my mind. It can be said that it is an emotion that creates the desire to create and drives a new project. The process itself is a cool, artisanal implementation and refinement of the original idea, and there is no place for emotions. They return at the moment of naming the created watch. I try to make this process as short as possible - I trust intuition and associations that combine the image with the word association, creating a unique emotion. This is the moment when the project (file) Untitled is saved under a new name. This is when its character is born.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

AS : The primary, most vital feature of my education and skills is music. Composing, harmonizing and creating (sculpting) the colours and depths of the musical space - is a similar process to creating an image. Working with melody lines for instruments is like tracking chunks of information that appear on interfaces. I think that it was the multi-vocality (polyphony) of music, seen as the translation of black and white notation into music, which taught me to build a hierarchy of information through maintaining distinction and legibility, while creating a unified whole.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

AS : I went through the line of work for clients, supporting their businesses and responding to their demands and tastes, followed by working on my own creations and business, the products of which are used, appreciated and enjoyed directly by recipients - consumers. This mode of operation allows me, on the one hand, to listen to the needs of people, and on the other hand, to bear full responsibility for the failure or success of my creations. This is a great responsibility and great satisfaction at the same time. Creating applications (software) for devices from companies such as Apple, Pebble or Fitbit does not burden me with high costs of producing expensive physical products, while limiting my creative activity to the screen offers a great opportunity to create original and supplementary projects. Working with digital material (creating software) gives me, a human and a designer, the feeling that my job reflects the nature of the 21st century because I do not use Earth's natural resources. I’m developing an idea of a game that will not devour human life but develop its memory. I would like to bring people value, meaning, meaning, and not to rob them of their priceless life.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

AS : I have three sentences for that. During my studies, I heard from a well-known professor that "One designs with one’s bottom (ass) and not with head". This sentence instilled in me diligence, consistency and a habit of finishing projects. The second sentence is "a project that is not produced - does not exist". This sentence taught me that it is not enough to design and draw an idea - you must help it to come into being: prepare technical documentation, supervise production, correct errors and make improvements at the level of user tests and comments. I heard my last sentence long after my studies: “a project that has not been sold does not exist”. This sentence really enlightened me and revealed the key importance of combining the project with promotion and advertising, and encouraged me to build a long-term relationship with my recipients. I can add that the most difficult thing in designing is to "be yourself" and from this place (from the subjectivity of your being) give to others your otherness and originality. I discovered that it is a hidden foundation of every creation - because there is always a specific person of flesh and blood behind it, a person with a unique story and name. ONLY by practicing how to express yourself in design – can you find fulfilment and develop, sharing yourself with others.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

AS : Find your "hobby horse" (Citizen Kane and Blade Runner 2049) and get on it. Use it but also respect and care for it. Let it carry you to the place you are afraid of and, at the same time, you desire. Let this wild ride show you the world from a different point of view and with a power that cannot be compared with anything else. This "horse" is hidden in your unconscious.

What is your day to day look like?

AS : A kiss of my love. Coffee!!! Breakfast and news from the world. Work: improving projects, making documentation, promotion in social media (Facebook, Instagram, twitter), sometimes taking photos of designs. A nap - I love it like morning coffee. And in the evening, a book and a movie at home cinema. And before going to sleep, talking to my love and kissing - it prepares me well for sleep and dreaming.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

AS : I ignore trends because following them means not speaking your own voice. I create them. It is only seemingly more difficult, while in fact it is the foundation of creativity (individuality). I set myself totally new tasks - for example: how do I arrange a group of minutes in an innovative way, give them a new form. The source of inspiration for me is the recognition of structures away from design, i.e. in books, in films, in music and in everyday objects, e.g. in dishes and how they are composed.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

AS : This is an important question! It seems that a good project is supposed to seduce, delight or be beautifully functional; and it is clear that, YES, (we creators) chose creativity because we have a love of beauty, but in my opinion it is not essential for a GOOD project. The essence lies in the otherness – a question posed anew – in observing something and uncovering / concealing it in a harmonious form. Will it be noticed or will it bring some change in thinking, feeling of aesthetics in a new way - time will show.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

AS : It is difficult to answer this question because the moment "this is it" is irrational and comes from intuition or unconsciousness, which recognizes the finished project, in some secret way it "knows" that the project is complete - fulfilled - ready for use, a bit like a written letter, a poem or composed melody, at the moment when we do not add any more words and sounds because the FULL EXTENT of the essence of things has already been revealed. In addition, I like to work quickly so that I do not succumb to the effect of "wearing out" and thus stop liking created projects. My projects are a success when they can function in circulation and be used, giving recipients what they were called to exist for. Sometimes, on the financial level, I know which projects are successful and popular, but deep down I am most happy about single purchases of very unpopular faces of TTMM time, because it means to me that something resonated in the recipient for him to honour it with clicking - "I pay".

What is your biggest design work?

AS : I am particularly proud of the collection of TTMM watch applications for the Pebble pioneer smartwatch. The restrictive requirements as to the amount of memory occupied by a single program, the black and white screen with very low resolution, were a great design limitation and a challenge to create new (not seen before) time forms. The project took 4 years to complete and received a total of five design awards. It is a project that contains 140 different faces of time and is a gold-mine of formal ideas, meanings and experiments that I can develop in the future and which can be a source of inspiration for others. The biggest challenge was changing the recipients' thinking and creating new signs of time, which contained abstract forms and introduced new logic, e.g. new shapes of numbers (fonts), the value of which can be read by counting the components of a given sign. The difficulty was to break through and compete with nostalgic watches created by passionate programmers and (thanks to simple and free software) by the users themselves. Today, the real challenge for me is to transcend myself and create even newer forms of time for Fitbit smart watches.

Who is your favourite designer?

AS : I do not have favourite designers. I admire and love the creators of film art: David Lynch, Lars von Trier, Michael Haneke, Yorgos Lanthimos, Ruben Östlund, Asghar Farhadi, Orson Welles, Elia Kazan, Frederico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick. Music composers: Philip Glass. I believe that Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan had the most influence on our times and personally I would like to meet and talk about designing and The Thing with Martin Heidegger.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

AS : I think (after Lacan) that the real desire (to create) arises from lack, not from excess. So my favourite cities like Paris, Venice or Rome are places that I visit, I admire and leave the experience offered by these cities in favour of the city of Warsaw in which I was born. This city is completely different, lost in the past time if compared to such great cities as Tokyo or Hong Kong. But I believe that thanks to this (lack) I create modern and original projects; and thanks to the virtual access people have to my works all over the world I can get the public interested in Poland and our artistic potential. After 5 years of receiving international awards during the A Design Award and the FWA in 2017, I received the GOOD DESIGN award and the Design of the Year award by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

AS : Over the years of my individual experience, an interesting rule has appeared which shows me that I work with people who want to work with me - I think this is because of my achievements. They contact me and suggest cooperation. What I value most in them is their independent thinking and the courage to share ideas that help us improve a product or service. Cooperating with programmers, I give them a free hand and accept the improvements they make of TTMM products. I value their professional confidence in performing tasks. What I dislike most is time pressure because I know that it generates mistakes and stress. And I think that work is one of the higher forms of life - and it requires concentration and respect. I respect the work of my partners without whom my projects would not exist and that is why I always mention them by name and range of tasks as co-authors. It gives satisfaction, creates bonds and increases responsibility for what is being done; and it also helps to build an individual story. My job is not only the creation and preparation of documentation, but also supervision over the execution, tests, modifications and promotion. A good designer knows how to manage time and what type of project to deliver and in what order the project would go smoothly.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

AS : I believe that all artistic activity begins with asking yourself questions about the legitimacy and the reasons for what you do, and your own psychoanalysis is a great help in this. Therefore, for 10 years (pro bono) I have promoted and supported the development of the Lacanian psychoanalysis in Poland. I dealt with graphic communication, visual and audio records and ran websites promoting psychoanalytic texts as well as lectures and trainings. The psychoanalytic theory and, above all, practice is a great space and a chance to make "what we dream about come true".

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

AS : The first most important thing is the jury's recognition of the quality and originality of my work. The second value is the ability to present different thinking among professionals from around the world through exhibitions, the web and PR activities. The third benefit is being able to generate interest among recipients in Poland and its achievements by representing Poland for one day a year, climbing for a moment on the "designer of the day" armchair.

Albert Salamon Profile

Dominus plus Clock application.

Dominus plus Clock application. design by Albert Salamon

genuse watchfaces applications

genuse watchfaces applications design by Albert Salamon

TTMM (after time) watchface apps collection

TTMM (after time) watchface apps collection design by Albert Salamon

TTMM watchfaces apps

TTMM watchfaces apps design by Albert Salamon

TTMM for Pebble watchfaces apps

TTMM for Pebble watchfaces apps design by Albert Salamon

TTMM for Fitbit clock faces apps

TTMM for Fitbit clock faces apps design by Albert Salamon

TTMM for Fitbit Clock Face Apps

TTMM for Fitbit Clock Face Apps design by Albert Salamon

Ttmm-s for Fitbit Versa App

Ttmm-s for Fitbit Versa App design by Albert Salamon


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