Enric Pérez Vercher on how to benefit society through playful design concepts
The Barcelona-based graphic designer uses his practice as a tool to impact society, “giving visibility to real stories, enlightening ideas and potentiating them through a design concept”.
- Elfie Thomas
- 8 April 2022
Enric Pérez Vercher's entry into the world of graphic design was something of an accident, he tells It’s Nice That. At highschool Enric wanted to get into the world of art restoration, so when the students were encouraged to get some work experience his mum introduced him to a friend who worked in the art world. “The plot twist was, he wasn’t in art restoration, but in graphic design, working in a studio called Ex. Estudi,” says Enric. “From then on, I knew design was my calling.”
While Enric stumbled somewhat unwittingly into graphic design, he now takes his role very seriously. He is particularly interested in exploring the ways in which design can affect society in a positive way, and vice versa. And his recent editorial project, Històries d’un Viatge (Stories from a Travel) in collaboration with Edu Piraces and Marina Martinez, gave him the perfect opportunity to explore this relationship.
Stories from a Travel is a book about Catalonia’s migrant history through the words of 42 different migrants. The concept of migration and movement is translated directly into the format of the text which ripples fluidly across its pages. Peppering the undulating arrangement of text are charming little illustrations created by children from an underprivileged school in Catalonia. Each page comes alive with the buildings, rivers, suitcases and people described in the stories. Collaborating with the school children on this project was a way of “instilling a layer of community” into its design, says Enric, but it also had the dual advantage of engaging young minds with the migrants’ stories and introducing them to the world of design.
What excited Enric most about the project was “giving visibility to real stories, enlightening ideas and potentiating them through a design concept.” The creative freedom he had on this project is also something he values highly. So when he was approached by House of Gül and FBO (Foundations for a Better Oregon) – a Portland association that works to disrupt historical and current injustices faced by families in Oregon – to create a brand identity, Enric was excited by the socially-engaged brief but not by the creative restrictions that often come with working for a public institution.
“Nonetheless we turned that around,” says the creative. Working on the principle that good design paired with an earnest social initiative would lead to great things, Enric knuckled down to the design of the identity. Thinking carefully about the community-driven initiatives which FBO uses to help children and families in Oregon, Enric used bold colours and shapes in his design to signify the “power of advocacy”. The natural curves which unify the different elements of the identity reflect the landscapes of Oregon and the each element was chosen with the aim of “sparking a child's imagination”.
When he’s not seeking to change the world through design, Enric likes to have fun by experimenting with different materials. Working as an art director and graphic designer at Barcelona-based Codea Studios, he often finds opportunities to experiment with “unconventional crafting techniques”, like tape and spray, liquid glue and sometimes even using his own fingers as brushes. For Codea’s poster Wash Your Hands, Enric used glue to create the type, in order to mimic the appearance and texture of hand-gel. This humorous and ambiguous piece pokes fun at the contradictory state of news and information during the hysteria of the Covid-19 pandemic. It articulates this joke through the concept of “small print” on the packaging of hand sanitiser. While the bold message of the poster in its captivating gluey letters clearly instructs the viewer to wash their hands, the smaller, less catchy print contradicts this imperative, warning against flammability, narcosis, headaches, inebriation coma…etc. “We didn't want people to stop washing their hands,” says Enric, but rather to explore the ambiguity of medical advice during the pandemic.
Combining a playful imaginative approach to design with a clear commitment to innovating the ways it can benefit society, Enric's future aim is straight forward: “to expand my collaboration netxnwork with clients and other designers through identity projects that seek social impact”.
Enric Pérez Vercher: Stories from a travel (Copyright © Enric Pérez Vercher, 2021)
About the Author
Elfie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in November 2021 after finishing an art history degree at Sussex University. She is particularly interested in creative projects which shed light on histories that have been traditionally overlooked or misrepresented.