Working out of an old bathroom on Spike Island is City Edition Studio, a graphic design practice where process and conversation are key. Set up by Jono Lewarne, the designer has been working under the moniker of City Edition since his graduation from the University of West England back in 2010. After spending time in other studios – notably Europa and Fraser Muggeridge at Typography Summer School – Jono’s intention has always been to “pursue a collaborative approach to graphic design”.
It’s an approach that’s obvious when looking through City Edition Studio’s portfolio to date. Each project led by Jono doesn’t appear to follow trends or shout its aesthetic attributes, instead, it speaks softly through colour palettes, paper stocks and typographic choices. A recent project displaying this approach is Explain Yourself, a publication for Deborah Aguirre Jones. A long term artwork in collaboration with Caroline Stealey and “the residents, art groups, families and individuals located in the Severn Beach area and its surrounding villages,” City Edition’s job was to sign off the project in a publication format, nodding to everyone involved.
“I know the project area very well myself through years of exploring the landscape on my bike. It’s an area that feels so incredibly expansive, even more so once you find a rare vantage point about sea level,” Jono tells It’s Nice That of the beginnings of crafting Explain Yourself. Wanting to reflect this atmosphere, the designer has added details local residents will clock throughout. For instance, when a landscape image is featured it is always set to bleed off the page’s edge. Another stylistic tendency reflects the fact the project saw Deborah layer her work, “with her early projects informing later ones,” encouraging Jono to format the book with several different page sizes. Its final extra detail is seen in a special edition of the book featuring a hand-printed cover. Looking again to the area for inspiration, Jono “took a further cue from the region’s geology” using ink made from the mud on Severn Beach, a process he describes as “messy but fun!”
A further project embodying this approach is Being Here & Being There, another publication which sees City Edition Studio collaborating with an artist, Philippa Lawrence. Translating her residency at Hestercombe House into print, Jono worked with Philippa’s research and thinking, with the main bulk of text featured developing from an adaptation of a presentation she gave. Also featuring a poem by TS Eliot, to represent this thinking Jono has designed Philippa’s photographs (both final images and ones that document her working process) and text into “various smaller sheets that can be reassembled or recombined,” he tells us.
To “contextualise the project as a whole,” Jono also worked with Eliza Bishop, a recent design graduate now based in London. Wanting the project to portray the amount of research Philippa conducts, the fact that this practice is ongoing was a driving force in Being Here & Being There’s design. Therefore, Eliza and Jono designed the publication as if it were “akin to case file or record of some kind, the type of file that can be added to and elaborated,” Jono continues. “It brings together different formats, materials, stocks and formats into a singular publication that tells the story of Philippa’s artworks at Hestercombe.” Overall creating a publication which the artist herself can delve back to as much as anyone else looking to understand her work a little better.
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