With a nifty book-binding technique, Naomi Prost-Kasbi combines theoretical concepts with thoughts and feelings
The French graphic designer shares her thoughts on everything from the arcane concept of “collapse” to the playful aesthetics of game books.
- Elfie Thomas
- 25 April 2022
Naomi Prost-Kasbi is a 23-year-old self-described “baby-graphic designer”. Just ten months out of her degree in graphic design and she’s already setting ambitious goals for herself. She’s determined to innovate the “pedagogical dimension” of design through her work. With her long term aim to get into teaching, Naomi has dived into the task of creating interesting design work which has a didactic element to it too. It’s a tricky endeavour, but one that this “baby-graphic designer” is pulling off with great aplomb.
One of Naomi’s efforts to make educational design more interesting is her publication Collapse. This nifty little zine deals with a problem which many uni students have come across. Imagine the scene: your tutor’s set you a particularly dense, but nonetheless interesting, piece of theoretical writing to get through for next week’s lecture. As you desperately try to understand the key concepts, your mind begins to wander and the small text starts blurring into one homogenous blob. Before you know it, you’ve got through a whole page without soaking up any information. We’ve all been there.
Naomi provides a clever solution. Her publication Collapse deals with the complicated yet fascinating theories of two French Collapsologists: Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens. Focusing particularly on their essay How Everything Can Collapse, the zine explores the concept in detail. Here’s where the innovations begin. Rather than just the theoretical perspective, Naomi’s magazine appeals to the emotions of the reader. It explores the idea of “collapse” from a second, subjective perspective: “through a range of emotions caused by collapsing, from despair to optimism to indifference”.
“The two parts are distinct,” says Naomi. “The theoretical part is printed on white paper, illustrated with photographs chosen among great photographers, using simple typographic codes. The sensitive part is much more experimental, printed on red paper, illustrated with drawings and sketches of my own composition.” Far from letting her reader’s mind wander elsewhere, in this part of the publication, their eye is drawn to text that begins to mischievously wiggle across the page and illustrations which bring each concept to life.
The final, and perhaps most important innovation, is the binding. The red pages which represent the subjective point of view are bound so that they are superimposed upon the pages of theoretical text: “you cannot open the two parts without them overlapping, forcing the reader to alternate between these two realities of collapse.” Not only does the publication serve for a much more interesting educational experience, it also makes its theoretical concepts more accessible to the reader by grounding them with relatable and subjective illustrations.
Naomi has also tried her hand at engaging readers along less theoretical lines. For her diploma project she made her own interpretation of a traditional game book – that wonderful invention for entertaining children on long car journeys with spot the difference, colour by numbers, etc. Naomi explains: “Hors Jeu! is inspired by the codes of traditional game books, but offers a graphic interpretation, using plastic expressions (photomontage, illustration, typographic work) and cultural expressions.” She wanted the piece to be an “object of art and fun” and a “creative-active object”, which encourages the viewer to interact with its design. “The user is invited to appropriate it by cutting out, writing and drawing on the pages to play certain games,” she adds.
Going far and beyond the boundaries of her diploma project brief, Naomi decided to self-publish Hors Jeu! before her final presentation. “By publishing this edition, I was confronted with production cost realities that influenced the very form of the project”, says Naomi. But, determined to gain professional experience in the graphic design world, this seemed like a necessary drawback as well as an interesting challenge. Succeeding in distributing her zine in book shops, Naomi recorded what she learnt from the process and produced a “mini-guide” to self-publishing which she presented alongside her diploma.
With all this entrepreneurial spirit, combined with a clear commitment to sharing knowledge and her instinct to go beyond the call of duty on a brief, the future looks bright for this young creative. We can’t wait to see what’s next for her.
Naomi Prost-Kasbi : Collapse (Copyright © Naomi Prost-Kasbi, 2021, Photo: Josef Koudelka, Daido Moriyama, Jinjung Lee, Writers: Pablo Servigne, Raphaël Stevens)
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.