Translated into English, the Portuguese word ‘margem’ means ‘margin’ and that’s a suitably chosen name for a studio determined to stretch its work beyond the limits of generic restriction. Founded in 2014, Estudio Margem is the brainchild of Alexandre Lindenberg and Nathalia Cury, who met while studying at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. It was there that they fell in love with concrete poetry, the Bauhaus movement and Russian Avant-Garde. “Since then, we have been seeking to find principles common to those languages and contemporary discussions about the clash between modernity and postmodernity”, the studio explains.
That grounding in modernism goes some way to explaining why the studio pays strict attention to the rigour of grids and the hierarchies of size and proportion. Its work mixes dissonant elements with a strict rhythm in a way that is both harmonious and bold; it is brutal, industrial and robust. The simple colour palette, only ever collating a few tones, pushes the typography to the forefront — giving it a voice a powerful and direct voice, stealing our gaze and demanding its attention.
“The challenge is to find the balance between something that will last in time, but at the same time will create a dialogue with contemporary aesthetics”, Estudio Margem explains. The work it creates is timeless, yet has a contemporary twist. “We are influenced by alternative printing techniques”, it comments. As the studio space is shared with an independent risograph publisher, Margem is often able to maximise the resources it has to hand.
“A favourite project has to be the book for Herman Melville”, Estudio Margem tells us. “Here we were able to achieve an exact material synthesis. The graphic design and the print process was designed with water as the key element. We chose cyanotype to print the cover of this book, a process where the image is developed by submerging the paper in water”. The texture and colour on the cover beautifully mimic being submerged under the ocean, where the water washes over you, reflecting the light in dazzling sparkles. “The inside pages were composed so that there were no paragraph breaks. This makes the book’s text boxes vary in height, evoking the same movement as the waves”. For Margem it is essential that each solution has a strong conceptual accuracy.
As each cover was made manually, it was an audacious project. The studio often goes that extra mile for the client. “We like to work with cultural companies and publishers”, it explains. “We feel that with these clients there is a greater openness to collaborate, and since the discussions and content is deeper, you experience more”. The duo work side-by-side, often swapping projects to make sure it is re-engaged with fresh eyes. Making sure that an idea is not dominated by individual thought, Estudio Margem is a truly collaborative venture.
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