“Over-designing, maximalism and horror vacui”: Nejc Prah returns with flavour and a spherical chair
The Slovenian graphic designer never disappoints; this time around, he reveals a handful of playful identities and a modular wooden chair.
- Ayla Angelos
- 26 August 2021
On the topic of Nejc Prah’s style and processes, not too much has changed since we last heard from the spirited graphic designer. But there has been one key update in his practice: he now designs furniture. Born and raised in Slovenia, Nejc has become a well-known name here at It’s Nice That, particularly for his bountiful colour palettes and retro typography (he was also one of our Ones to Watch 2017). So it’s always refreshing to hear about what he’s been up to as of late. “I do get busier and busier,” he tells It’s Nice That. “I started designing furniture, tried myself in tech branding and started doing more projects within the music industry.”
An ambitious designer with his fingers in many pies, Nejc will often be working on a medley of different projects and briefs at once – and he likes to keeps it that way too. It can be anything from a rebrand of tech company Celtra to working for Boiler Room or creating a catalogue about education in architecture. Each requires varying approaches and tests his ability to swap and interchange with flair, function and personality. “Not only is the brief different, so are the meetings and the tone; all the conversations, deadlines and expectations.” On a usual day, then, expect to find Nejc “skipping” between each project he has on the go: “I try to inject something interesting and unusual into each project, no matter what the context is.”
We’ve long been fans of Nejc’s distinctive style, one that marries colour with vibrant swathes, shapes and depth. His ability to disrupt the typical workings of a poster or identity has garnered him reputable status within the industry, and it’s something that we’re drawn to over and over again. It was just over a year ago that he impressed us with an update of his playful portfolio. At the time having just kickstarted his own studio, he navigated us through the identity for the 33rd Ljubliana Graphic Biennial, album artwork for Frank Ocean and illustrations for The New York Times. This time around, we’re seeing a brand new roster of projects revealed in signature Nejc style – only now, he’s transcended his unique concoctions into the functional realm of furniture.
Molecule Chair is a very first for Nejc. The finished chair design, he says, might be a little “unusual”, but equally, it’s been crafted from a simple structure and formula. “There is just one element repeated through a simple rectangular grid, in which each element is a pixel in the 4x4x7 grid, forming a very classical shape of the chair with a backrest,” he explains. While looking at the product, you get a strong whiff of Nejc’s playfulness and attitude towards design; even if the piece is functional, this doesn’t stop him from pushing the boundaries. “As long as the basic element fits into the proportions of a cube, the system works.” The piece itself is made out of 36 spheres – “cubes, pyramids, cylinders” – making it modular and able to be reworked into endless shapes and possibilities. “The system explores sculptural qualities of a chair as an object, rather than ergonomic ones,” adds Nejc.
The spheres that make up the Molecule Chair have all been wood-turned by hand from poplar wood, a traditional and analogue process that contrasts with his usually digital creations. Bound together by a discrete stainless steel structure, “which penetrates them like a skewer,” the chair has then been painted in a luminous grey and polished. It’s important to note that he didn’t do this all himself, and he collaborated with a local woodturner and carpenter to realise the product – which is currently in production and will hopefully be on the market in spring 2022, available in several colours and a natural wooden finish.
Elsewhere, Nejc has worked with the team at Boiler Room to build the identity for system restart.tv, a ten-day digital festival that took place over spring. “I wanted to make something overwhelming, extremely colourful and not too concerned with grids, alignments and order,” he says. The result of which is a jam-packed identity that’s been splashed with primary colours, bubbly typography and a mix of textures and tones. Nejc refers to the work as “over-designing, maximalism and horror vacui” – the latter of which is defined as the fear of emptiness, or not filling up. This is certainly prevalent throughout this specific identity and for the entirety of his works, for that matter. Is Nejc perhaps scared of blank spaces, or is it more that he’s just exceptionally good at what he does best: experimentation? We’ll leave you to decide.
Nejc Prah: Molecule. Photo by Klemen Ilovar (Copyright © Nejc Prah, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she was interim online editor in 2022/2023 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.