Caserne on what makes their fun-filled portfolio stand out from the crowd

A large part of the studio’s success comes from fostering a youthful, fun-loving work environment which naturally attracts talented designers. The studio’s hoax to pose as “Caserne Brewing co.” for a night is a perfect example of how it does this. Opening its own Brasserie was basically a “pretext to organise a huge party in our new studios”, admits Ugo. But Caserne never does anything half-heartedly. Along with giving out tons of beer outfitted in its own packaging design, the studio pushed the brand “in all possible directions” with videos, posters, clothing, bags, oversized bottles and coasters.
Caserne is not your average studio. It’s blessed with a particularly mischievous sense of humour. In the past, it has been known to pose itself as a hoax brewery and for one of its latest project, the studio packaged real carrots as if they were hot dogs. From the moment Ugo Varin and Léo Breton-Allaire joined forces as Caserne’s creative directors: “It was clear that we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the very serious and impersonal tone of the design studios that surrounded us in Montreal,” says Caserne’s founder Ugo.
Self-initiated projects like this are crucial for the studio to maintain a “relaxed” working environment which naturally breeds spontaneity and innovation. “In the case of the brewery,” says Léo, “we had tested things in augmented reality and it had taken us far out of our comfort zone.”
While Ugo and Léo met in university, it wasn’t until a few years later that the pair united again to work together. Ugo founded the studio in 2012, approaching Léo in 2015 to join him as a creative director. In these early stages, Ugo was racked with a strong feeling of impostor syndrome; “I have never had any agency experience”, he explains. But over their seven years as a team, the duo have found their “true place” as creative directors, slowly building an inspiring space – “both mentally and physically” – for their colleagues to work in. Their biggest lesson, says Leo, is that: “There are no perfect recipes for carrying out a project. We must listen and have the ability to adapt.”