26th July 2023

Isabelle Mattern Studio: Visual communication and collaborative design practices

After studying in Paris and London, Isabelle Mattern decided to join the rising local scene in Luxembourg to set up as a freelance designer and conceptor in early 2020. Joining the 1535° Creative Hub gives her a space to exchange ideas and collaborate with other designers and artists. Happy reading!

Meet Isabelle

As a creative from Luxembourg, I am curious about different ways of (visual) communication and design. After studying visual communication at ECV in Paris, I moved to London for a bachelor’s degree in graphic design / Design & Interaction at Central Saint Martins, and later went back for an MA in Visual Communication / Experimental Communication at the Royal College of Art. My returns to Luxembourg got me to rediscover the local up and coming design scene here, where I then started working independently.

The idea of creating a business

Already throughout my studies I enjoyed the aspects of developing a project in full, of working in collaboration and independently. I worked as part of a team in an agency between studies. I took part in the Luxembourg Design Biennial in 2016 with inProgress asbl and the Triennale Jeune Création exhibition in 2017, and once I had completed my Master’s degree, I set out to work independently, through collaborations with clients, colleagues, and developing my own projects and products. As a communication designer and cultural mediator, my work ranges from posters, print design, illustration, to creative workshops and installations.

The stages of business creation

Back to Luxembourg – building a foundation.

Returning to Luxembourg in 2019, I went to House of Entrepreneurship with a few questions about how to register to be self-employed and ended up joining several courses hosted by Nyuko. During IdeaShaker sessions, I was able to question and adapt my project and offers in a way that would make sense for the Luxembourgish market and in accord with my skillset. The workshops were happening with other entrepreneurs with very diverse backgrounds – which was a way to test each project multiple times and adapt as the workshops went on.

I was able to join Fit4Entrepreneurship and continued onto mentoring and coaching with Nyuko. The workshops allowed me to critically assess my offers and gave space to ask questions and learn more entrepreneurship skills.  


My returns to Luxembourg got me to rediscover the local up and coming design scene here, where I then started working independently.


The studio launch and the pandemic

I joined a coworking space with other designers and launched in the beginning of 2020. Having a few projects lined up, as well working as a freelance mediator in a few museums, I was excited to get started with my studio, well aware that the first few years would be a bit trickier.

Then the pandemic happened, projects were moved ahead or frozen, museum closed, and it inevitably became more than a bit trickier – we moved out of our coworking spaces, and with only a few commissioned projects ahead, I made use of the time to develop further skills and work on my portfolio.

Collaborations and the move to 1535° Creative Hub

In summer 2021 I got accepted for a place in Differdange’s 1535° Creative Hub, which brought space for creation and connection with other creatives. Client projects and collaborations continued to develop further.

Creating together with others and having a space to exchange and connect are important factors in my work as a self-employed designer. 1535° fosters collaborative projects, and Nyuko’s alumni network continues to encourage the presence of small local entrepreneurial projects in the Luxembourgish market. Together with other designers, ‘Platforma’ [platform for making] was created as a way to provide access to design workshops and local products. In 2021, we relaunched ‘inProgress asbl’, a project for newcoming designers in and around Luxembourg, with which we participated in the European Design Festival 2023.

Continuing the process

As an independent designer and artist with a lot of different hats, working independently allows me to keep flexibility, variation and creativity throughout different projects and work processes.

My workday looks different each day and week. Some weeks, the focus is more on graphic design projects such as a book or magazine layout, visual identity, illustration. On other days it circles around developing and animating creative workshops with museums, institutions, or schools, whether it is with residual materials from Centre Formida in Esch-sur-Alzette, or with printing workshops as part of MiNELL Minett Natur an Ëmwelt Léier Lab with ProSud.

The flexibility in my work schedule allows me to take on different ranges of projects, including call for projects with museums and institutions, and self-directed projects, like developing my own range of products such as notebooks and postcards, creating illustrations and working in typography and cultural mediation.

Isabelle’s advice for future entrepreneurs

Being flexible and adapting to unpredictable situations, open to collaboration, asking questions, and being curious in general is important.

What also matters is knowing why you chose to do the work you do, what value it adds - especially during times when it can be a bit trickier.

Also remember to work on your project and not just in your project: administrative work, communication, portfolio, and emails often take up more time than expected.

Isabelle and her bank

Having a professional Spuerkeess account alongside my personal bank account with them allows me to have a straightforward and easily accessible overview of my finances.

Through their support of local entrepreneurs and Nyuko, I was able to benefit from Nyuko’s workshops and take time to develop my design practice together with other local entrepreneurs.

Nyuko has signed a partnership with Spuerkeess, in order to foster entrepreneurial spirit and strengthening the bank's position with company founders from the start of their businesses. More info in our article: https://www.spuerkeess.lu/en/blog/experts-corner/nyuko-fostering-entrepreneurial-spirit/.