When designing books – an area of graphic design which makes up the bulk of its portfolio – studio Hubert & Fischer always tries to translate the work handed to it in a way that feels tonally similar. This approach is most obvious in its annual project in collaboration with ZF Art Foundation, where the studio will design a monograph of an artist who has completed its yearly residency programme.
The only requirement of Hubert & Fischer’s design for ZF is that the book should be typeset in both German and English, and so from the get-go designing a typographic system is a key concern. Other than that, the studio let the work at hand lead the way, with Philipp from the studio pointing out: “Our approach to book design is that we look carefully at the overall content, reading the text and especially spending time with the artworks and images, as we see them as the core of the book.”
In turn, the studio describes its style as never designing “on top of what was already visible,” a modest approach to utilising graphic design to tell the story of an artist. This also allows for unlikely inspiration within the confines of book design, particularly in its latest book as part of the programme: I believe I can fly by Nina Rike Springer.
Viewing Nina’s work, the element that stood out to the studio was her use of colour which “felt slightly naive to us,” says Philipp, “that doesn’t mean we didn’t take them seriously, rather it inspired us to use a large type size for the text, something you might do for a children’s book.” Additionally, clour is used as a visual hook throughout the book, with several techniques utilised that will have designers on the tip of their toes. Each of these applications has a reason, however, such as solid colours “for higher contrast” on divider pages, as well as printing with six colours on its cover, “the ultramarine spot colour is amazing!”
The shapes used by the artist in her works also became a focal point for the designers, who mirrored these forms and filled the negative space with text, using “them as the element that holds the content together,” Philipp points out. “These shapes appear from the spine to the end sheets and create an interesting flow for the interior.”
In breaking “the standard organisation of content” for an artist book of this ilk, Hubert & Fischer has created a book that not only stands out amongst other often over bulky and repetitive artist books, but that provides an example “of typography and editorial design that visually supports the art,” says Philipp. “This only came together because all the people working on the publication were open-minded. And the reader should definitely get a sense of what the artist does; she takes the liberty to constantly reinvent herself.”
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.