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Work / Graphic Design

Dan Solbach’s sophisticated designs exhibit restraint and understanding

Having worked almost exclusively for artists and galleries for a decade, Berlin and Switzerland-based graphic designer Dan Solbach has a solid portfolio of cultural ephemera. Working largely with material provided by others, he has learned the value of comprehensively getting to know his client’s work. With an always thorough understanding of each artist or institution’s concepts and goals, Dan’s rigorous process sees him producing considered and deliberate work with a deceptively simple finesse.

Dan works on his own, although often with the help of an intern. As a result, he relies on the collaborations and relationships he fosters with artists and curators. “Of course knowing a client before the projects – better even through friendship – leads to a better and stronger collaboration,” he tells It’s Nice That. “So I always try to educate myself about an artist’s work, visiting exhibitions, searching for catalogues, going to gallery openings, to understand the work and its context.”

Design, as a profession and interest, has always been a constant in Dan’s life as his father is a furniture designer. “My first real interests started with a Verner Panton exhibition in 2000 though,” he explains, “paired with second-hand vinyl records that I would search for in flea markets.” With the introduction of the internet to his daily life, Dan progressed to designing basic websites, inspired by these record covers as well as “flyers, gig posters, skate shirts, etc”. By the time he reached the end of his high school education, “it seemed pretty clear that I wanted to become a graphic designer, so I started to look for internships in ad agencies and studios before eventually applying to the Basel University of Arts and Design.”

Now, his work exhibits the restraint of someone with a wide understanding of graphic design. Clean, sophisticated and never over-designed, his output understands the rules but adeptly chooses which ones to utilise. “My visual language is fairly simple,” he adds on the topic, “it’s strongly influenced by Swiss typography. Then there is often a second element – image, shape, or just an idea – that I apply without hierarchy, in order to break-down my own language. I don’t want to create unique masterpieces, but results of a continuous process, so it’s very important to me, that I don’t fall in love with a single application or project.”

Dan’s recent redesign of Kunstal Aarhus’ visual identity demonstrates this notion. Having met the team when previously working at the institution as part of the editorial team of Starship Magazine, he was asked to come back and develop a system which could be taken forward and designed in-house. With this in mind, Dan produced a flexible and unexacting typographic structure which involves the combination of elements in varying degrees of complexity. As the identity is rolled out, Dan will continue to consult on the project, “checking the files and always adding a second image layer, which is freely associative based on the respective exhibition.”

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Dan Solbach: Identity for Kunsthal Aarhus, 2018

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Dan Solbach: Identity for Kunsthal Aarhus, 2018

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Dan Solbach: Identity for Kunsthal Aarhus, 2018

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Dan Solbach: Identity for Kunsthal Aarhus, 2018

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Dan Solbach: Identity for Kunsthal Aarhus, 2018

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Dan Solbach: Identity for Kunsthal Aarhus, 2018

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Dan Solbach: Identity for Kunsthal Aarhus, 2018

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Dan Solbach: Exhibition identity and catalogue for Produktion. Made in Germany Drei, Hannover, 2017

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Dan Solbach: Exhibition identity and catalogue for Produktion. Made in Germany Drei, Hannover, 2017

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Dan Solbach: Exhibition identity and catalogue for Produktion. Made in Germany Drei, Hannover, 2017

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Dan Solbach: Exhibition identity and catalogue for Produktion. Made in Germany Drei, Hannover, 2017

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Dan Solbach: Exhibition identity and catalogue for Produktion. Made in Germany Drei, Hannover, 2017

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Dan Solbach: Monograph on Andro Wekua, published by Kunsthalle Zürich and JRP|Ringier, Zurich 2018

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Dan Solbach: Monograph on Andro Wekua, published by Kunsthalle Zürich and JRP|Ringier, Zurich 2018