Alessandro Prepi Sot on creating strong but timeless designs rooted in systems and storytelling
Allowing concept and process to guide his design decisions means Alessandro’s portfolio is diverse in its outputs.
- Ruby Boddington
- 11 November 2021
Italian graphic designer Alessandro Prepi Sot sees the parameters of his field not as goals, but as tools. “I think this is a good approach to create strong but timeless design,” he tells It’s Nice That. While admitting he leans towards more editorial projects, he explains that he is most interested in the idea of design itself and sees each project as “a chance to learn and experiment.” It’s for this reason that he’s tested out a plethora of visual styles throughout his portfolio – which includes book design, typography, branding and more – as he’s drawn to systems and storytelling rather than aesthetics.
A recent graduate of Glasgow School of Art’s graphic design master’s, Alessandro has previously worked at Lane&Associates and Zak Group and is now based in Italy, working at Studio Blanco. His interest in graphic design stems from his adolescence in Italy when he went through “the teenage skate and graffiti phase,” he recalls. “I was attracted by the graphics on the skates and I particularly liked the idea of a series in which every pro-skater had his own graphic under the same visual umbrella.” At school, he found himself spending hours making diagrams, adding how “I didn’t learn much from them, but I liked making [them]; now I can say that I simply loved spending hours creating layouts.” In this sense, his creative sensibilities were always there, he just realised it in hindsight.
When working on a project, Alessandro explains that, for him, concept and process always come first. “I believe that the project should suggest to you its design development and from this base, you can build a system that can, through materials, layout and other tools, underline the aspects of the project and create feelings,” he says. “That’s why I don’t think I have a signature however, my friends say they would recognise my designs among a thousand. I think that more than a personal language I have a well-defined procedural process and a well-defined overview of what I like and what I don’t like.”
Looking at Alessandro’s broad range of projects is a testament to the fact; he flits between demure photobooks, bold websites, humorous publications and more with ease. A recent project which he’s particularly fond of is titled Andante – a book he designed for photography collective Cesura, art directed by Arianna Arcara. Alessandro works regularly with Cesura and also designed the collective identity and website. A photo book housing 20 years of Magnum photographer Alex Majoli’s work, Andante was designed as the catalogue for an exhibition held at the MAR of Ravenna, Italy. Incredibly, the book spans 1985 to 2018 so a major challenge was going to be presenting such a huge wealth of content in an engaging and consistent way. Alessandro explains how, to confront this challenge, he took inspiration from the concept of a folder, wanting to modernise it in book form. It’s “a book with a triptych structure inspired by the old folders that photographers used before the advent of digital photography as portfolios,” he elaborates. The resulting publication feels considered and dainty, despite the scale of its content.
Alessandro also designs Sali e Tabacchi Journal alongside art directors Leonardo Pellegrino and Elisa Carassai. An annual publication that explores the relationship between the creative arts and Italy’s unknown rituals, habits and traditions, he was brought on board to give the editorial system a refresh. “The request was to organise the system in a layout that was halfway between being a magazine and a book, where the graphics did not invade the contents but ennobled all the different parts of the magazine with a clean and dynamic design, rich in well-thought-out details,” Alessandro explains. What Alessandro produced in response is clean and inviting, creating a polished reading experience with just the right amount of quirks.
Alongside all of his commissioned and personal graphic design work, Alessandro tells us he’s seriously delving into type design, although he admits he can’t consider himself a type designer – not yet, at least. In collaboration with Apolline de Luca, he launched GoodEggs TypeFoundry, “a playground to explore concepts through letters and shapes based on storytelling.” We covered one of the duo’s typefaces, Diaspora, which is now available to purchase via Type Department. Clearly, Alessandro is a designer with a thirst for collaboration who actively seeks out as diverse a roster of projects as possible. It’s precisely this fact that means we’re excited to see what he’ll put out next.
Alessandro Prepi Sot: Andante, photo by Mattia Micheli (Copyright © Alessandro Prepi Sot, 2021)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.