NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

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Neshan 27

Design Today-2

Space, Form, and Content/ Project Projects Studio

Behrouz Hariri

is formally known as a design studio, and a good one at that, but it fulfils more roles than a traditional studio. Staffed with some of the most inquisitive minds in contemporary graphic design, the studio is home to a group of very articulate and versatile designers who play an active role in creating the contemporary literature of design and contribute to critical thinking surrounding the field.

Founded  in 2004 by Prem Krishnamurthy and Adam Michaels; with Rob Giampietro joining as a principal in 2010, the studio is based in New York and primarily works with clients in arts and architecture.

Following the theme of this issue we focused on the approaches and thoughts to “space”, either real or virtual, in some of the studios best know work. While in projects like exhibition design and installations dealing with space is an inevitable part of problem solving and integral to the final result, there are instances where a spatial approach is deliberately chosen to arrive at a solution. For example when the studio was commissioned to guest-edit an issue of Print magazine they chose to host a round table and transcribe the resulting conversation into a column running through the magazine, juxtaposed against other articles and features. “The roundtable we held was deliberately organized and staged with attention to location, spatial configuration, duration, refreshments, lighting, and so forth. The conversation that emerged could have only existed in the form that it did with these elements taken into consideration. Virtual collaboration is an important mode and one that we often engage in, but for this project, we felt strongly that we wanted to create a real-time physical collaboration. If we had hosted this conversation over email, a space in which context is neutralized (or at least not shared equally), the outcome would have been quite different.”

One of the recent assignments that has brought much attention to the studio’s work is their branding and exhibition designs with SALT, a cultural institute in Istanbul. The concept of space is one of the foundations of the resulting solution. “We conceived of the SALT identity system as an exhibition space in itself: a venue in which to curate and display contributions by other designers. As these other designers are selected to create a new custom typeface for the institution’s identity system, past iterations of the typeface manifest on the website to create a visual time-stamp.”

Project Projects demonstrated their deep understanding of spatial problem solving in Becoming Istanbul, another project for SALT comprised of workshops and exhibitions. In this project the space is designed to evolve over time and allows for the audience to shape the space by moving modular pieces in a carefully constructed environment. “Istanbul is a multi-layered city in which absolute transparency is impossible. Physically, its topography and built environment are complex and extremely dense; culturally, it has multiple layers of histories, languages, and traditions, enmeshed and overlapping. This multi-vocality and contradiction is present in both the curatorial approach of Becoming Istanbul and its content. The structure and design of the exhibition expresses and mirrors this sense of multiplicity and complexity, using elements of visibility, transparency, contrasts of light and dark, and juxtaposition in a dramatic manner.”

With their demonstration of wit and tendency to bringing conceptual thinking into the forefront of both design criticism and production, Project Projects is certainly one of the studios to keep on your watch list in the years to come.

Behrouz Hariri

is a systems designer and entrepreneur. Trained as a communication designer, he now plays strategist, researcher, and product architect from day to day. Behrouz’s career started from designing artifacts on paper and products for screens, and slowly morphed into working on strategy and complex systems. After working in Toronto’s startup and tech scenes, Behrouz’s deep interest in uncovering insights and Human Centered Design approach lead to a Fellowship with in San Francisco. Behrouz founded the Toronto chapter of CreativeMornings in 2011. He intends to take advantage of his temporary return to the CMTO podium to invite you to set a new record for the most high fives exchanged at a CreativeMornings event yet.

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