Reading Time: 8 min | Jan 2022

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Diogo Gama Rocha: "Simplicity and discretion are the finest characteristics of elegance."

Portuguese designer and founder Diogo Gama Rocha on success, perfection and his philosophy of life.

"Design is not art at all! must have art", says Diogo Gama Rocha, in the Omdesign's headquarters next to the sea in Matosinhos, the metropolitan area of ​Porto. It captures well the spirit that guides an entire team of professionals in design.
Since several years Omdesign proves its strong expertise in packaging design in the iF DESIGN AWARD with a top 3 position out of more than 800 participants and a top 10 position out of all award-winning design studios within the last five years.

Diogo Gama Rocha

Born in Oporto, Portugal, in 1973, he is Founder of Omdesign, one of the top Portuguese design and advertising agencies. Diogo graduated in graphic design at ESAD in Matosinhos, Portugal, and received his Master degree in Marketing and International Trade at ESADE in Barcelona, Spain. He has been a jury member for various renowned design competitions and won several design awards including even two iF Gold Awards since 2016.

All iF Design Awards and the iF Top Labels find here:

Omdesign's Roots and Evolution

The advertising and design agency Omdesign was created in 1998, the year in which Lisbon was hosting the world exhibition Expo 98. After more than two decades of existence, it has evolved from a micro to a small business company. It shows an unhurried evolution and a process of continuous development, which the company stands for. It is a way of living that Diogo Gama Rocha likes to pass on to his entirely national team. A multidisciplinary team, where the creative part plays the biggest role, while communication and production are also fully integrated.

As a dedicated worker, Diogo Gama Rocha demands the same intensity from his team. Luckily, it already comes natural to them, that dedication and commitment are the only ways to ensure reaching new stages of professional evolution. Thus it's all done very naturally, without the need to push too hard. As Diogo Gama Rocha always says: "Simplicity and discretion are the finest characteristics of elegance."

Diogo Gama Rocha:
"Focus and pragmatism plus the continuous search for perfection and excellence are part of my philosophy of life."

iF: Since 2015, Omdesign has gained a reputation nationally and abroad, by being recognized and awarded in several reputable design competitions. What do you think were the crucial factors for that success?

DGR: Well, this recognition is the result of many different circumstances. Especially Omdesign's relationship with its suppliers and partners played a crucial role in that. To communicate about how to work and how to do a job properly, is the most important factor for that relationship. You can overcome the difficulties of manufacturing processes only together. It is a two-way relationship between company and suppliers or partners, in which the internalization of the same values and principles are fundamental for working together. Because success and problem management is a team effort, achieving a good working relationship is so essential.

iF: Were their any specific circumstances in your past, that had an impact on your capabilities and the way you are working? For example your family background?

DGR: My family environment provided me with a rich atmosphere, with marks and examples of my father and grandparents who, in addition to their flair and inclination for many trades, they all had a desire to learn, to search for knowledge in different areas. My father had a workshop at home, just near his home office, allowing him to give into his passion for all things dealing with crafts and classic cars. My mother heavily influenced my sense for details and ability to create refinement.

My grandmother played a role in awakening my orientation and demand for color detail, as she was a visual artist. Lastly, the figure of my grandfather João Martins da Costa, known visual artist and reference in the Portuguese art world, was also an important influence. His nickname was "Portuguese da Vinci", because he had a bright personality with a progressive way of thinking. For example, he studied on the use of energy produced by the tides, that were recently adapted and materialized.

iF: What do you think about perfection or rather what leads to a perfect result?

DGR: Well, personally I think, that I have never achieved perfection nor will I any time soon. But I admit, that there were times when I had the feeling of almost reaching this so-called perfection. The path leading to it is plastered with a huge amount of work and a whole lot of unsatisfaction. Since 1998, focus and pragmatism plus the continuous search for perfection and excellence are part of my philosophy of life. This is also the modus-operandi of Omdesign's team. In a simplified manner, there are only two ways of doing things: good or bad. That unsatisfied middle ground doesn't matter. You know you have to work hard to reach 'good' and even harder to reach 'very good'. I am fully aware of all that was achieved yesterday or will be achieved today have to be overcome tomorrow. This is the philosophy of Omdesign, something that is present daily and existed since the very beginnings of the company.

iF: Do your customers perceive your perfection oriented mind set?

DGR: In Omdesign we will always go beyond the expectations customers have - from the beginning to the end of the process. I am really satisfied by this requirement and consistency. And I even get paid for something I enjoy doing. But to conclude the topic of perfection: Like my father, I have a cutout on my desk with a quote by Voltaire: "Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time."

Professor Gaspar Martins Pereira:
"Working with Diogo and the Omdesign team is a privilege. With craftsmanship, they combine process simplicity, audaciousness and modernity."

iF: The company's brand, logo and symbolism you've created remained unchanged since its foundation. Is there a particular meaning to the logo?

DGR: Yes, the green and blue of the logo have a meaning. Green stands for nature and blue for water. That takes us to the sky, to the sea and to the element that sustains life. That's what I felt at the time for the company's brand and it still remains.

It is an identity and as such an idiosyncrasy that doesn't fall for fashions, trends or vanity. In 2021, Omdesign presented a booth at the Luxe Pack Monaco fair, all in that particular shade of green.

iF: We've already come to the last question: What is Omdesign currently up to?

DGR: Currently, Omdesign has the privilege of working on the greatest asset of companies: brands. I don't believe, that the productive capacity is the most important factor for a company's wealth. In my opinion it is the brand, the products. If a company's factory burns down, the production capacity is terribly affected. The brand however is not lost in the fire. Professor Gaspar Martins Pereira, a friend of mine and a person I have great respect for, once told me, that there are many companies that have lasted for over 300 years but what they have left behind was quickly forgotten. He told me, that Omdesign with these last twenty years has already left work of unforgettable quality - I quote: "Working with Diogo and the Omdesign team is a privilege. With craftsmanship, they combine process simplicity, audaciousness and modernity. The right ingredients to make their work a shared art and a pleasurable thing."

iF: Well, that's a wonderful way to end this interview. Thank you very much for your time.

The interview was conducted and recorded by Tiago Krusse - Editor-in-Chief at Portugal-based "Design Magazine" - on site in Porto.