Projects by Copenhagen-based research and graphic design studio Alexis Mark are centred around concept with context. Each of piece of work, from publications to exhibition design, identities, typefaces and even more, merge the boundaries between art, design and culture, “driven by a particular interest in the concepts of language and mediation as an artistic practice and in an interdisciplinary context,” the studio tell It’s Nice That.
Alexis Mark also don’t make things easy for themselves, methodically seeking “a contextual engagement with the materials and conditions of the collaborations we are involved in and find it integral to our practice to extend these conditions into the work we produce,” they explain. Consequently, the studio “embrace complexity as a value,” rather than dumbing it down or “forcing simplicity” on the design brief at hand.
The studio also does not list other studios or artistic movements as influences, instead naming “what we might call linguistic systems” as the core of its practice. “Be it an alphabet, the systems of map projections, or body gestures — these semiotics are all influenced by society and in turn influence society. Our interest in them has developed into a foundation for a practice in which we try to make collections, vocabularies, or idiosyncratic encyclopaedias of the inherent languages of the projects and contexts we engage in, in order to display the various aspects they embody.”
While this may sound a little complicated, Alexis Mark make their process easier to understand for their audience and clients with Annual Reportt, an “occasional exhibition platform and ad hoc laboratory” which acts as a conceptual and physical extension of the studio. By extending the invitation to see how and why their work is made, Annual Reportt spans various artistic disciplines but in a negotiable way, naturally becoming “a vessel for questioning what graphic design can be and how we can use it to ask relevant questions,” the studio explains.
An example of this is the studio’s current exhibition, Sportification & Yes Yes Yes which “combines and unfolds” the original materials behind two research projects by Italian gallery Colli Independent. Alexis Mark pushes this by featuring a range of international contributors to redefine perspective, including London-based Studio Hato to renowned designers Experimental Jetset, some of who have created new work especially.
Outside of more conceptual, research-based projects, since launching at just the beginning of 2017 Alexis Mark has some weighty projects under its belt too. The first is the design of the 50th edition of Yale University’s School of Architecture prestigious annual journal, Perspecta, built around the theme of “Urban Divides”. They have also continued their taste and distinct ability for exhibition design creating the identity for Lean Issues, an exhibition at Kyoto Art Centre in Japan, on top of numerous publications, and “posters-slash-catalogues for a Danish art hall”.
Looking towards the new year, after celebrating just its first birthday Alexis Mark will be part of starting up a new design school in southern Denmark and look forward to seeing how the analytical approach is applied in an academic circumstance.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.