- 27th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno 2016
BB Can you tell us a bit about the background of your project? How did you come up with the idea? What brought you together?
WD & AV It started with a coincidence. We each owned a handful of titles from the Spektrum book series, bought in secondhand bookshops in London and Germany. Neither of us can read German, we just liked them for their formal qualities. Even amidst the high standards of mass paperback design in Germany, the black jackets stood apart. Compositionally they are highly controlled while permitting a generous assortment of image treatments. And they are beautiful objects to hold, humble and inexpensive. There is something constant and timeless about them – the series began in 1968, with 279 titles released up until 1993, and, apart from some hints at developments in printing technology over this time, it’s really hard to guess when a given title was published. They’re unusual in being at once accessible and enigmatic.
When we found out about our shared interest, it seemed like a good moment to further investigate not only the Spektrum series but also to find out about their designer Lothar Reher and his work. It transpired that he was long-time art director for the series’ GDR publisher, Volk und Welt (People and World), and had designed a lot of material for them during his time there. He also had a parallel practice as an artist, which flavoured his design work. There isn’t much information out there about Reher, and we felt that his work deserves to be exposed to a wider audience, which we’re attempting to rectify with the exhibition.
BB How does the project you have prepared for the Off Programme fit into the larger context of your practice? Are you working on something related?
WD & AV We’re both graphic designers, working on projects which encompass publication and/or exhibition design, so A Shelf for Lothar extends out of our own practices. The exhibition is intended as a departure point into a broader study of Reher’s work. We’re also preparing a new book to be published later this year, which will continue lines of enquiry from the exhibition and include a recent interview with Reher.
BB This edition of the Brno Biennial responds to the metamorphoses and the state of contemporary graphic design; its multitude, variety, vagueness and apparent superficiality. Can you identify some of the basic parameters, current themes or motivations of contemporary graphic design?
WD & AV If we talk specifically about publishing, then significant changes to the industry in recent years have had an impact on how we edit, design, distribute and read publications. On the whole, these are positive developments and as a designer, interesting to respond to. But when reflecting on the Spektrum series, it is difficult to imagine a mainstream, populist publisher committing to such an individually-minded concept today. The series sold around 5,000,000 copies over 25 years, so they were incredibly widely read. Reher’s work and ideas endure, and we think worth examining as a model for how to steadily build and sustain a coherent body of work.
Wayne Daly is a London-based graphic designer, focusing primarily on publishing, editorial and visual identity work. Recent projects include the catalogue for Hayward Gallery’s major exhibition Carsten Höller: Decision (2015); Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s The Age of Earthquakes for Penguin (2015); and the visual identity for artist Sean Lynch’s Irish pavilion Adventure: Capital at the 2015 Venice Biennale. He is co-founder of Bedford Press, a publishing imprint at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, which publishes books and e-books at the intersection of architecture, visual art, graphic design and theory. Collaborators include artists Gustav Metzger, Joseph Grigely, Emma Smith and Can Altay, architects Kersten Geers, Jack Self and Shumi Bose, and photographers Giovanna Silva and Bas Princen. Bedford Press has exhibited numerous times at international book fairs, including the New York Art Book Fair at MoMa PS1, LA Art Book Fair at MOCA and Miss Read at KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin. He has contributed texts to the journals AA Files, The National Grid and A Circular, and lectured at various British and international schools and institutions including the Royal College of Art, Werkplaats Typografie, Whitechapel Gallery, the Architectural Association and the American University of Beirut. In 2015 he was an invited consultant to the Swiss Federal Office of Culture for the appointment of the designer for the 2016 Most Beautiful Swiss Books exhibition and publication.
Adrien Vasquez is French graphic and type designer working in London with John Morgan. He has contributed texts and translations to the journals .txt, Azimuts and From–To.
Short interviews with collaborators of the 27th Brno Biennial, authors of its exhibitions, jury members and Biennial Talks speakers.
Interviews and graphic design: Radim Peško Radim Peško (1976) is a graphic designer based in London. He works in the field of type design, editorial and exhibition projects. In 2010 he has established his RP Digital Type Foundry that specializes on typefaces that are both formally and conceptually distinctive. His work includes identity for Secession Vienna, typefaces for identities of Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Aspen Art Museum, Fridericianum, Berlin Biennale 8, various work for the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Bedford Press London or a long-term collaboration with artist Kateřina Šedá. He has lectured at many schools including Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam, ÉCAL Lausanne, HFK Bremen, KISD Cologne, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon, Sint-Lucas Ghent, University of Seoul. Since 2011 he is part of the curatorial board of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Tomáš Celizna Tomáš Celizna (1977) is interested in graphic design in connection with new technologies. He is a founding partner of design studio dgú in Prague (2001 to 2005), recipient of J. W. Fulbright Scholarship (2006), and holds MFA in graphic design from Yale University School of Art (2008). He currently lives and works independently in Amsterdam. Collaborations include, among others, OASE Journal for Architecture, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Since 2011 he is a lecturer in graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Adam Macháček Adam Macháček (1980) is a graphic designer. Following studies at the AAAD in Prague, Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and ÉCAL in Lausanne, he co-founded in 2004 studio Welcometo.as in Lausanne and is a member of 201∞ Designers collective. His work includes publications, exhibition catalogues, illustrations and identities. Collaborations include, among others, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Théâtre de Vevey (seasons 2003–2012), Galerie Rudolfinum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chronicle Books, Editions Pyramyd, Museum of Czech Literature, Brno House of Arts, California College of the Arts, Airbnb. For Brno Biennial he initiated and organized exhibitions Work from Switzerland (2004) and From Mars (2006, together with Radim Peško). Since 2011 he is a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno. He lives and works in Berkeley.
Translation and copy editing: Alena Benešová, Kateřina Tlachová
Production: Miroslava Pluháčková
Printed by: Tiskárna Helbich s. r. o.
Print run: 2000
Published by the Moravian Gallery in Brno, 2016