2 Minutes With ... Pum Lefebure, CCO of Design Army

Her creative picks, from the Beatles to ballet

One of the world's most highly respected designers, Pum Lefebure marries the artistic and commercial through her stylish, compelling work at Design Army for clients like the Academy Awards, Adobe, Disney, Bloomingdale's, Ritz Carlton, PepsiCo, Washington Ballet, the Hong Kong Ballet, Neenah, Smithsonian and Lucas Film. 

With a rare balance of creativity, strategic thinking and industry know-how, she has proven that good design is the cornerstone of good business. 

We spent two minutes with Lefebure, jury chair in Design for the 2019 Clio Awards, to learn more about her background, her inspirations and her favorite recent work. 

Pum, tell us ... 

The town where you were born. 

Bangkok, Thailand. 

What you wanted to be when you grew up. 

An architect, but then I realized all the math required. 

How you discovered you were creative. 

My kindergarten teacher told my mom that I had a very imaginative brain. The way I would draw and create ideas were a little "different" than the other kids. I remember arranging color pencils in order of hues just for fun. 

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

When I came to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student, I found my own voice though art. I knew right then I wanted to be in the U.S. because it was a country that valued creativity.

Your favorite band or musician. 

The Beatles.

Your favorite artist. 

I have so many. Willem de Kooning. Tadao Ando. Rei Kawakubo. I love going to exhibitions to see new work and artists as well. I think I have over 30,000 images on my phone of just art/paintings. 

Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction. 

Not really a fan of fiction, but I love Cleopatra and the lore she created. I also like June Osborne, aka Offred, in The Handmaid's Tale—she's so believable in her roles. 

The best book you've read lately. 

Where The Wild Things Are. I was making some closet space and there it was on a pile of books, so I sat down and read again. It reminds me of my daughter when she was a little girl, and also of my own childhood. Definitely the best book of all time. 

Your favorite movie. 

The Sound of Music. This movie was my introduction to the English language. I used to watch, dance and sing along with my sisters for hours and hours as a child. Years later I watched it again and realized how inspiring the colors are—it's such great art direction. 

Your favorite Instagram follow. 

@thefatjewish @ad_magazine @Goop @Naoshimaisland @Venice.art.biennale and @DesignArmy ;)

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why. 

We created a product called Political Chocolate. We made politics sweet. It was fun coming up with the concept for product, creating the name and flavors ("Left Wing" is full of nuts. "Taxation without representation" is a bitter bar.) We worked on the illustration, naming, strategy, etc. 

Click to enlarge: 

Your favorite creative project from the past year, and why. 

Recently we completed a short film to celebrate 40th anniversary of the Hong Kong Ballet. I love this campaign because it was a passion project with free range on the creative/art direction, and I was able to work with amazing dancers and international talent. It's a great way to learn something new by shooting in a different country/culture and collaborating with new teams. 

Hong Kong Ballet 40th Anniversary Season Brand Video
Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago. 

Colors Magazine, a magazine about the rest of the world. Created by photographer Oliviero Toscani and art director Tibor Kalman in the '90s. This is the magazine that inspired me to study graphic design. Also I love all the ad campaigns from Benenton in the '90s. They were a huge influence on my career.

Someone else's creative project that you've been envious of lately. 

Artist JR's incredible optical illusion installation at the Louvre. I love art that is experimental and experiential—it's where the world is headed with technology, but when it's executed in an analog manner it's so much better.

Your main strength as a creative person. 

Never be satisfied. Always be better.

Your weakness or blind spot. 

I love what I do because I only do what I love, and it makes life a bit too busy at times. We try to say no to projects, but when you have a creative challenge and opportunity to create, it's time to suck it up and have a late night at the office.

One thing that always makes you happy. 

My daughter Sophie is my everything, but I love the changing of the four seasons. When the leaves turn color into fall, the first snow, the first bloom. Nature makes me very happy. 

One thing that always makes you sad.

Child hunger. When I travel and see children running around the street begging, it makes me really sad.

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

Professional world traveler. Collecting experiences and memories for living as I walk the earth. 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.