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Work / Graphic Design

Design studio Alexis Mark on the value of criticism in design practice

For Copenhagen-based design studio Alexis Mark, its project and exhibition space – and now imprint – Annual Reportt provides the literal and cognitive space for engaging in critical design discourse. Focused on an interest in interdisciplinary practice, Annual Reportt “seeks to create a space in which the traditional definitions of various artistic disciplines are negotiable”, where creative practitioners can consider the nature of their practice, its overlaps and impact. Of the platform, the studio says: “It’s important to investigate and question the nature of the things we practice – the decisions we make, for whom and why we make them, what their consequences become.” And elaborating on why: “Obviously good design doesn’t materialise solely from conversations or reading, but we find that reflection and research (and a general social consciousness) can help provide for more interesting, original and explorative approaches. We live in a time in which the transmission of information is more impactful on society than ever before, and it seems very clear that without critical engagement from the professions responsible for it, we open the door for the exploitation of information.”

Off the back of the project, the studio has found that: “Generally, it’s a space where we can discuss, test and develop ideas and methods, which we naturally bring with us when working on other projects. People are more interested in collaborating from the early stages of a project. They value our opinions, and we’re given the space to formulate proposals born from our own readings of each project.” A shift from the traditional relationship, where: “As graphic designers we often find ourselves brought into a project during its final stages. Everything is determined: the motivation, the concept, the content, the title.”

While Annual Reportt has a broad scope, there’s still a constant thread: “We’re the ones initiating the collaborations and determining projects from the ground up. Thematically, everything revolves around language in some way – the idea of transmission and translation with creative and artistic practice.” This can be more literal – “an independent publishing event, a ‘release party’ of a typeface or an investigation into computer-generated prose” – or abstract – “an exhibition dealing with the idea of a ‘visualisation’ of time, or in the form of a research project into a shared European TV history”.

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