“There’s no story in this,” Manu Berelli tells me over coffee as I sit between him and his creative partner, Glenn Henrickson. “Two relatively young dudes start a graphic design company in Portland, Oregon. Like that doesn’t happen every fucking day!”
Yet there’s something refreshing about Lost Decade, Berelli and Henrickson’s burgeoning design project. You’ve likely seen these guys around town: Henrickson’s probably stirred your Old Fashioned at Aalto Lounge just before Berelli poured you a beer across the street at the Belmont Inn. The two have been friends for years—close to a decade, one can assume—and recently embarked on a long-held aspiration of working together to design unique, inspired, and innovative images for local bands, venues, and events.
Their familiarity around town has aided them in launching Lost Decade. With all of their business procured via word of mouth, Berelli and Henrickson have yet to advertise or market their work. “We have yet to approach anybody,” Berelli says. “People we know, friends of friends will call and say, ‘I heard you were doing something and we need this done.’” Among their projects are posters for the summer music series at White Owl, prints for Ural Thomas and the Pain, and an array of marketing materials for PDX Pop Now!, which they had previously worked on individually before collaborating as Lost Decade.
It helps, too, that their style is a memorable combination of cryptic and recognizable. One glance at their Instagram account (@welostdecade) conjures the opening credit sequences of Saul Bass, but upon further inspection, a refreshingly different personality emerges. If you know Berelli and Henrickson, you can feel their quirky, bold, and sometimes crotchety essences bouncing off the page. Berelli adds punch with color and whimsy, while Henrickson is a master of depicting the human form with attention to nuances and imperfections. Both designers often spend their free time poring over rare images for inspiration. “I’ve always been able to turn to Manu for direction,” Henrickson says. “Because it’s easy to end up speaking the same language if you are consuming the same amount of esoteric media.”
In the long term, Lost Decade aims to be a familiar Portland staple—the graphic design equivalent of a dark and dingy neighborhood dive. They would like to expand their business beyond one-time events to various venues and bands, and work toward designing album covers, tour merchandise, and more enduring (and endearing) media. The dream is “all rock and roll and children’s T-shirts,” according to Berelli.
In a city bursting at the seams with corporate creative agencies, Lost Decade feels grassroots and accessible. Looking at what Berelli and Henrickson produce for some of Portland’s most beloved bands and bars, you get the sense that they have experience navigating this city, that they know its ins and outs. But whatever they make, they want to make it new. “Obscurity is such a great idea for me to just ponder over,” Henrickson begins. “We’re all going to go that way, to obscurity. We’re all going to the Lost Decade.” And though the statement is bleak, Henrickson smiles as he says it. “I need this passion. After all, I’m just an old asshole who works at a bar.”
[Eds. Note: Berelli is a former Mercury contributor.]