FIT TO LIVE | Stefan Dukaczewski
Tell us about MSTRPLN.
MSTRPLN® started in 2001 as a handle and a URL for my online portfolio. At the time it was commonplace to do work under an alias and the name “Master Plan” came about as a mission statement for what I wanted to do moving forward with design. Making a living doing good work was ultimately my master plan. Since then it has evolved into the collective works of my career in design, consisting of projects that I have worked on for both agencies and clients, as well as personal projects that I release independently.
How did you get into design and was there a defining point in your career where MSTRPLN was born?
Growing up I was surrounded by a lot of influences that helped build up an eye for design. From team sports, to skateboarding, to being very involved in the action sports industry, art and deign was something that was always around. Things like team logos, sneaker commercials, skateboard decks, graphic t-shirts, sports cards, all that stuff helped shape an opinion and taste for my future self.
I was actually going to university for business, not really thinking that there were any careers in art or design, all the while doing personal design work on the side, either making apparel for myself and my friends, web design and video editing. A lot of my effort in design at first was learning how to do things on my own in order to save money. It was only when I realized that design could be a career that I started getting more serious, I dropped out of university, enrolled at a technical school, graduated, then went back to university for a second design degree in new media design. It was during this second stint in university where MSTRPLN® came about.
I have always been a personal fan of your clean, concise and minimalistic aesthetic and approach to design. Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work to date?
I like the “less is more” approach to design, I think most of my style falls into this aesthetic in order to convey messages and solve visual problems.
I’d have to cite the Swiss style as a big influence, with Dieter Rams and Michael C Place of Build as designers that I look up to for what they have done in the industry.
What are 5 people, groups or things that inspire you?
Hiroshi Fujiwara (Fragment)
Montreal & New York City
It seems like you weave aspects of footwear culture and aesthetics into your work. What was your introduction to sneaker culture? And if you were stuck wearing one pair of shoes for the rest of your life what would they be?
I went to school during the late 80’s and early 90’s which I would consider a high time for sneaker culture. Air Jordan’s, British Knights, the Reebok Pump, all of those dropped during that span. Kids would be one upping each other with new sneakers throughout the year, anyone that had a pair of Air Jordans or other sought after pairs would be on top of the game. Most of the early Jordans released when I was young and when my parents didn’t see my point of view that spending a ton of money on a single pair of shoes made all the sense in the world, so instead I would just draw pictures of them in class and dream of one day owning a pair if that ever happened. This was before all of the retros came about, so you can only imagine how the story continues down the road once everyone grown up with their own money.
These days I’m more particular about what I buy. I like to wear a lot of the classic Nike and Jordan models from back in the day in their original color ways. This was the influence for the Minimal Sneaker Project, appropriating colors of classic footwear from the early 80’s and 90’s into non-footwear elements.
I’m more about technology and comfort these days. If I had to settle on one sneaker for life I’d be good with a pair of black Nike Flyknit Trainer+.
Can you tell our readers about the concept behind the smart shoe concept you did with UBIQ?
I’m good friends with the former creative director at UBIQ. We had spoken about doing a project together at the time when I was in university for New Media Design. Some of the courses that I was taking dealt with human/computer interaction and how these interfaces could exist in everyday life through smart technology. Since Wi-Fi was fairly new and hot spots weren’t ubiquitous, they sold these things called Wi-Fi sniffers that you’d use to hone in on the wireless signal and see where the stronger broadcast was coming from to get better reception. The concept of the ASRD was “a step in the right direction” and it involved developing a pair of sneakers with this technology built in, so the wearer could see the Wi-Fi signal strength through LED indicators on the tongue of the shoe. Long story short, UBIQ sent me a pair of shoes that I used as the basis of the project, I was able to create a pressure sensitive insole that would activate the device and murdered our the sneaker to keep it all inconspicuous. Link.
The flap was a throwback to the Airwalk Prototype skate shoe from the 80’s, just for good measure.
Are there any projects you want to explore in the next few years? What would be your perfect project?
Right now my focus is more in branding and identity design. I’d love to work more closely in the footwear and fashion industries as well.
I think it’s every designers dream to get a project together with Nike. I’ve worked with the company from a marketing capacity through the agency side of things, but if I could get a footwear-based project under my belt that would be a personal goal of mine.
Another things would be evolving MSTRPLN® more as a brand. I have years of planning completed for so many projects that never really saw the light of day. Having those come to fruition would be something I’d love to accomplish.
How would you describe your personal style?
Clean and minimal, I tend to learn towards the basics these days and am loyal to certain brands that take quality and fabrication into consideration. That makes up my everyday style. If there is an element of technology thrown into the mix that enhances form and function, that’s something that would catch my eye.
Why is it important to you?
I think that is an extension of who we are as people and how we would want to be represented. I feel like my work and style are hand in hand.
Correct me if I am wrong because you can’t believe everything you read on the internet but I am sure I saw that you have had 13 broken bones, 3 titanium plates and 21 screws in your body. I thought you were a designer?
As I mentioned earlier, back in the day I was heavily involved in action sports. I’ve broken all of my arms and legs multiple times from various accidents, either skateboarding, snowboarding or free-skiing, with some resulting in plates and screws to keep everything together. I made the decision to scale it down and part of becoming a designer was a way to continue in the industry and my love of these sports without having to actually put myself at risk, so I ended up behind the scenes filming, editing and designing graphics instead of wrecking myself.
How can people connect with you?