Collaborative, Not Competitive: Martin Haakon Gran Featured in Graphis Journal #371

The architectural mind of Martin Haakon Gran is featured in our upcoming Graphis Journal #371 (available for preorder) in the first of a two part interview, where the designer invites us into his collaborative work process and idealistic vision for a more sustainable future with design. 

Originally from Norway, Martin’s career began after graduating university with degrees in psychology, organizational management, and sociology, ultimately culminating into an expertise on brand communication and leadership. His experience with architecture, design, and brand-driven projects spans over twenty years, and Martin has notably worked with groups such as the Scandinavian Design Group, McCann Erickson New York, and Leo Burnett as a strategic advisor, planner, and director. 

Most importantly, Martin is a partner with the architecture company Snøhetta, and serves as the managing director for their design division. His background in psychology and business makes him an integral asset to the company’s creative process as he helps in every step of the way, from coming up with an idea to seeing it come to life. Designer and AGI member Enzo Finger describes Snøhetta as “one of the world’s most sought after and award-winning interdisciplinary architecture and design companies.” He continues that, “One of their custom mottos I like the most is ‘Simplexity’ – not to simplify but to make complex things easier to understand – it’s design and architecture that makes you think.” 

Here’s a snippet of our Q&A with the inspiring Graphis Master:

What inspired or motivated you into your career?

“I walked into the UN Headquarters building when I was fourteen years old and learned about both the diversity of the people working there and the scale of the building and city. At that particular point in time, I knew I wanted to work within an international and creative context. Years later, torn between choosing an artistic or academic education, I studied psychology and organizational management. I realized that working with creatives instead of as one had its benefits: I could lead more objectively to make the group work better together. So, I guess the short answer is the UN and its building in Manhattan.”

What is the greatest satisfaction you get from your work?

“I get highly motivated by observing people craft together and manifesting the power of the collective to make things. I also get pretty jazzed when our thinking becomes design; when the first sketch is on the table, the first tangible sign of a potential design being adopted into society.”

What professional goals do you still have for yourself?

“I will continue to try to make the architecture and design industry become more collaborative as opposed to competitive. I think what we do is too important to do on our own and yet we are too small as an industry. Together, we can quickly make the world more socially and environmentally sustainable.” 

To preorder our Graphis Journal #371, visit for more information. 

Author: Graphis

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