“As a teen I loved the skateboard magazine Lodown from Berlin and before I even knew why I was attracted to it, I had decided it was what I wanted to do,” says Switzerland-born graphic designer Anna Haas. Whilst growing up in the small town of Fribourg, Anna first developed a love for books whilst working at a monastery where she was taught book restoration and repair. She later went on to study illustration and upon graduating began working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. Her work is an accomplished and slick portfolio that ranges from editorial design to visual identities and explores the world of art, culture and commerce.
The choice to study illustration came about when Anna realised that images spoke to her much more than words. “I felt that drawing was a skill I really needed to practice and that images took time to make sense of. I wanted to develop an awareness of how we understand images and so illustration felt like a good start into the world of visual communication.” Having studied at Werkplaats Typografie in the Netherlands from 2009-2011, Anna’s practice now has its roots in more traditional type-based graphic design. However, “images (any kind of images) and the ways in which I work with them are still very important to me, even when they’re not my main focus.” This relationship is clear in her designs which are both incredibly structured and anarchic at the same time featuring grids and geometric shapes in combination with handwriting and found imagery. These factors form the basis of her approach to design which focusses on how we perceive and understand the combination of text and imagery: “depending on how you combine and rearrange a body of work, how and when you use images, can completely change something’s meaning. The language that images speak and the ways this language is used will never be boring to me.”
Anna’s love of books can clearly be seen across her impressive portfolio that offers a multitude of publications and printed matter, however, more recently she has begun venturing into the world of web design. Although books satisfy Anna’s love of objects and tactility, she enjoys the possibilities that digital applications can offer. “I can re-think non-linear dramaturgy and challenge new ways of reading.”
As a way to combine her love of printed matter and her growing interest in digital and web design, Anna initiated and created Book Cities, an application dedicated to all the bibliophiles around the world. It offers a well curated selection of shops in order to facilitate the discovery of a good book shop, wherever you are. Featuring an interactive index of the world’s best independent book shops, Book Cities aims to become a growing community of book-connoisseurs whilst also exploring the function of the book shop as a cultural hub and meeting-point. The app makes available the opening times, contact information and description with up to four images of each included book shop and the filtering functions allows users to detect relevant shops by using categories and keywords. Although a clear departure from Anna’s previous work, Book Cities is an interesting look at how the world of print can continue to exist when designers utilise digital media to promote and celebrate its important role in culture.
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