Life at Klar

Talking brand and design with our Art Director, Mengru Liang

Tell us a little about yourself?

I moved to Berlin from New York 6 years ago, with a desire to challenge myself in a brand new environment and no expectations of what my career or life could be. Now, it is the longest place that I have lived anywhere, and I’m loving it ☺︎. Even though I have a fashion design degree, I find myself more drawn to industries and brands that can do good, with a strong message and real purpose. I am interested in telling stories and making an impact, whether it is through words, photography or moments with people. What fulfills me is learning about different cultures and gaining new perspectives from people that I meet and places that I travel to. Food, music, and psychology are some of my big loves, not only from a cultural point of view, but also because it’s just fun to eat, dance and ask “why?”. 

What were you most excited about joining Klar and now that you are seeing the company grow?

I saw the potential in Klar and how the brand could evolve in the next few years. It was a unique opportunity to join in the midst of new brand positioning and strategy work, where I got to shape the new brand identity and implement it into Klar’s first 360 campaign. At Klar, I had a voice to propose ideas and build initiatives and see them come to fruition, every step of the way. Even though the work is very hands-on, I’m able to leverage external talent and agencies to produce cool things like video campaigns and 3D visuals. It’s never doing the same thing everyday, and I love that everyone is motivated to succeed. With the company growing, I see our capabilities expanding even more at a higher quality. 

What does the Brand & Design department have to offer in terms of career growth? 

Since we work in cross-functional teams, designers have the power to influence projects and work directly with stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with creative concepts, rather than just receive briefs from top down. We try to give designers ownership of their workstreams and involve them in pivotal brand decisions, so everyone feels empowered to take the lead. We also have a professional development budget to use per year, as well as the ability to host workshops to learn from our peers and other talented professionals. Our team rituals with product design and user research also provide a lot of insight and education for team members, as we are constantly learning how to work better as a team and develop ourselves as individuals. 

What is the most rewarding part of working as an Art Director at Klar? 

It always makes me happy to see my Brandies collaborating closely and having fun at work. Everyone is so talented and brings their unique background and skillset to the team. I also get to work with talented 3D artists, animators and directors, steering them in the right direction during their creative process. I have high standards of quality, and while that can be painful to achieve at times, I always feel rewarded when rounds of feedback pay off and the end result is beautiful. Our external production agencies often say that we are difficult clients because we push for excellence in every little detail, but they still love to work with us because we know what we want, and we’re nice. I’d take that as a compliment!

Tell us a bit more about the life at Klar, what is so unique about it? 

We are a close-knit team at Klar with only nice people (big egos are not welcome). Teamwork is essential to success here, and we spend a lot of time with our colleagues, whether it is eating together at Wednesday’s catered lunch or sharing our highlights of the week in Friday’s retro session. We have the possibility to work from Mexico or Berlin, and the hybrid model makes it easy to connect more flexibly. It doesn’t feel stale or corporate, and information is readily available, with a direct contact for many situations. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in art and design? 

Since I was a kid, I loved to draw (Pokemon, Sailor Moon, cartoons) and wanted to be an artist, much to the dismay of my family, who were all academics and engineers. I did everything I could that was an expression of art, from choreographing dances to composing music to studying traditional fine arts, like painting and drawing. I just wanted to create. Those passions led me to studying fashion design at Parsons and Central St. Martins, where my dream was to produce my own fashion line. Now, that dream has shifted, but I still carry with me the work ethic and perseverance that those years taught me, especially the aesthetics and value of craftsmanship in my work today. 

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Paloma Lozano