Havana Next began when Paris-based art director and graphic designer Régis Tosetti and Swiss designer François Rappo were invited by ECAL/University of Arts and Design Lausanne’s honorary director Pierre Keller to give a typography workshop to 15 students at Havana’s only design university Instituto Superior de Diseño known as ISDi.
The duo visited Havana during one of the country’s most iconic moments in recent history. “Our workshop happened in really unique moment for Cuba: one month after the visit of Barak Obama, Pope François and the historic free concert of the Rolling Stones, during the filming of Fast & Furious 8 – the first big American production on the island, a few days before the Chanel giant catwalk and the first American vessel in 40 years – full of tourists – docked in the cruise ship port. And at the time we had no idea that Fidel Castro would die a few months later,” Régis explains.
“From a human and cultural point of view, we were coming from Switzerland with a big gap in terms of visual culture and background. In Cuba the study of graphic design is focused on pragmatic imperatives. We fostered students to find their own approach to graphic language. Once they started to do it, thanks to our shared passion and the thirst for experimentation shown by our students, the results were really surprising with strong potentials. This experience has been extraordinary and so rich in terms of cultural exchange and graphic production.”
Alongside Regis and François’ workshop was another taught by former Type Design Club president Diego Vainesman, the first American to teach at ISDi. “I guess we were the first Swiss designers to teach there as well.”
“Many of the proposals developed by the students revealed a strong potential, a notable case of which is an ornamental serif letter used to create a modified version of Helvetica for the book. We collected all the material (A4 posters with letters H, N or the words HAVANA and NEXT) which were really good but needed to be reworked for a book,” Régis tells It’s Nice That of the design process behind the resulting publication. “We saw this book as an experimental one, reinterpreting the fonts and playing with kinetic effects for example, and designing it with a total freedom at 4 hands with François Rappo. We wanted it to be like a long flow, passing from sequences of photographs I shot during our stay in Cuba as a visual report to some texts explaining the different aspects of this workshop and sequences about the works of each student.”
Havana Next, which ran to 500 copies, was printed in Switzerland by Artgraphic Cavin SA in Grandson “with a special ink allowing to get a really deep black on a natural paper what was important for the artworks and photographs we were printing.”
“We wanted this book to be small and humble in its form but powerful by its content. The small format permits to manipulate the book easily and to carry or share it easily,” Régis says.
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