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de_form: The Many Lives of Erik Kessels

Work / Graphic Design

Design studio de_form on its exhibition identity for Erik Kessels’ latest show

Nora Demeczky and Eniko Deri met during their final semester of studies at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and instantly hit it off. After graduating, they went their separate ways for a while, trialling different methods of working in Budapest’s design industry before realising that they worked best with each other. After collaborating on a couple of projects, their future was sealed, and the creative studio de_form was founded five years ago as a result.

Since then, de_form has carved a name for itself in the Hungarian capital’s creative sector. Working in tandem with several museums and cultural institutions across Budapest, Nora and Eniko are no stranger to exhibition, identity and catalogue design. The designers tell It’s Nice That: “We really enjoy these types of projects because you not only have to satisfy the client, but we also have to represent the artist’s work well at the same time.”

Satisfying these two disparate parties has been no mean feat for de_form. In its latest exhibition identity for the Dutch artist-designer-curator-extraordinaire Erik Kessels’s, show, the studio wanted to create a design that could highlight both Erik’s work as well as beautiful typography. To successfully communicate the playfulness of Erik’s work, the designers embarked on a great deal of research to deeply understand the exhibited projects.

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de_form: The Many Lives of Erik Kessels

The show is currently exhibiting at Mai Manó House, a regular collaborator of the studio’s. On the starting point for the identity, Nora says: “[Erik] creates his own stories with many found or self-made images.” And as a result of this process, the creative director of KesselsKramer presents unique storylines throughout his work. The challenge for de_form lay in finding a graphic solution that would respectfully emphasise the narrative within each image while showcasing a spectacular graphic identity at the same time.

“We thought a lot about how to improve the design by placing something next to these characteristic images,” says Eniko. “In the end, we created an ‘Erik Kessels brush’ that can actually draw pictures.” It refers back to one of Erik’s signature acts which sees him displaying exhibited works through a filter of his own making. Nora and Eniko’s “brush” ties into this process, creating a graphic filter through which the exhibition can be seen.

Conceptually-driven, for the founding designers of de_form, it is imperative to build a strong and clever idea that can drive the corresponding visuals forward. It’s also the most exciting part of the process for Nora and Eniko. “We have long brainstorming sessions and it’s always a great feeling to know that we have found an idea that we are 100 per cent satisfied with,” Nora goes on to say. Visuality is, therefore, always the second step of the process for the design team and, hoping to maintain these values within their small studio for the foreseeable future, de_form continues to grow from strength to strength.

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de_form: The Many Lives of Erik Kessels

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de_form: The Many Lives of Erik Kessels

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de_form: Elf Pictures

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de_form: Open Museum

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de_form: Budapest Design Week

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de_form: Wasted