2 Minutes With ... Astrid Stavro, VP, Creative Director at COLLINS

On Huguet and discovering graphic design

Astrid Stavro is VP, creative director at COLLINS. She is an award-winning creative director with almost two decades of leadership in design. Her goal is to create transformative work that is conceptually driven, emotionally engaging and meticulously crafted. She is the president of the International Society of Typographic Designers, forms part of the advisory board of the design school, Politecnico di Milano, and is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale, the world's most prestigious design association.

We spent two minutes with Astrid to learn more about her background, creative inspirations and some recent work she's admired.

Astrid, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born in Trieste (Italy), also known as the "City of Wind" and "City of Coffee." Trieste is geographically, culturally and architectonically the least Italian city in Italy. The perfect birthplace for a nomad like myself. I grew up in Madrid and lived in The Hague, Boston, New York, London, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and back to London, where I have been living for the past six years.

How you first realized you were creative.

I was as curious as a little girl as I am today, and still have a childlike sense of wonder about pretty much everything. I spent a huge part of my childhood reading books. As a teenager, I remember hiding books from the school library in my backpack, in fear that my friends would laugh at me. They certainly weren't into James Joyce, Fernando Pessoa, Thomas Bernhard or Borges. I wanted to be a writer, an architect of words. I had lofty ambitions, fearless drive and stubborn determination. When I felt strongly about something (which was often), I wrote letters to newspapers, the Pope, presidents and writers I admired. The letters were politely answered (much to my surprise), and some got published in the press. I believed in the power of language as a tool to create better futures.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Glenn Gould.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

One summer day, whilst studying literature and philosophy, a friend introduced me to Interview Magazine. The first spread my eyes landed on had beautiful images of silhouetted lemons and big bold letters dancing around them. The lemons changed my life. My friend said, "This is graphic design." I had never heard of graphic design before, but I knew that whatever it meant, that's what I wanted to do. I understood that type and image could amplify the content in powerful and surprising ways. It was a magical moment. Graphic design blended my love of language and storytelling, imbuing the content with meaning in joyful, surprising and unexpected ways. I also still want to write a novel and design every page, with or without lemons!

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Where do I start? The list is endless.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

"Consolations" by David Whyte, a wonderful gift from Brian Collins.

Your favorite fictional character.


Someone or something worth following on social media.

​​Led By Donkeys.

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

Can we please have the stolen time back?

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on. 

A poem I wrote when I was 12 years old. It was posted on a board outside the class. Sorry, no links.

A recent project you're proud of.

A collaboration we did with Pentagram partners Matt Willey, Jon Marshall, Yuri Suzuki, Sascha Lobe, Giorgia Lupi, Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell together with the Mallorca-based hydraulic tile manufacturer Huguet. The project focused on materiality and craft, and a new methodology for approaching the process of design. The results are playful, innovative and surprising, with a collection of pieces that effortlessly blend thoughtful, modern design with traditional craftsmanship and local, sustainable materials. It took three years to develop and was launched in autumn of last year.

Working on such a tactile project in the midst of the pandemic, when we were all unable to physically interact with each other, was a wonderful experience and something that kept me going. Seeing everyone's ideas morph and develop through time, from first sketches to prototypes was particularly rewarding. Shout out to Huguet for his patience and willingness to innovate, experiment and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago. 

"The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily" by Dino Buzzatti. I haven't seen Lorenzo Mattotti's recent screen adaptation but heard it's good.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

The identity for NN North Sea Jazz by Studio Dumbar.

Your main strength as a creative person.


Your biggest weakness.


One thing that always makes you happy.

Waking up, going to sleep and everything in between.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Running out of ginger herbal tea from A.C. Perch's in Copenhagen.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

If I weren't in design, I would definitely not be in advertising.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.