Offshore Studio returns with a mind-boggling lineup of unconventional graphic design projects
The roster includes an interactive map for Bauhaus Foundation, a publication inspired by old underground magazines, and a heck-load of experimental type.
- Ayla Angelos
- 1 March 2022
In the past couple of years, Offshore Studio’s output has intensified – and all for the right reasons. From initially gracing our screens as part of our Ones to Watch cohort in 2018, the studio has since worked with publishers, editors, curators, graphic designers, visual researchers and design educators, in turn going beyond what’s perceived as typical (or conventional) graphic design.
The Zurich and Eindhoven-based design studio is founded by Isabel Seiffert and Christoph Miler, and through its collaborative practice, the team have embarked on a myriad of different projects, switching between different jobs, titles and hats to produce experimental typography, editorial design and various other media. “This doesn’t come without moments of crisis and a lot more questions,” says Isabel, “but it seems that we slowly come to terms with the fact that this is simply how we operate and that we are interested in too many different things.” In this regard, the studio has named three pillars that define its work: the first is commissions, mainly in the cultural sector; the second is research; the third is self-initiated art projects. The latter of which has grown since the studio took part in a residency at Jan van Eyck Academie between 2020 and 2021. The team are also in residence in La Becque, which is where they’re nestling down on a research project currently in the works.
The studio has much to update us on. One of its recent endeavours, for instance, is a project entitled Not at Your Service: Manifestos for Design, created for Zurich University of the Arts. The project dissects the role of graphic design and the impact it has through the means of a publication, “which is not conceived as a finished project, but as a fluid document of its time,” Christoph tells It’s Nice That. Inspired by old underground magazines, the team opted for a dynamic mix of text and imagery to accompany its sprawling – though highly formulaic – layouts. Not to mention its use “wild combinations” of typefaces and sizes, along with the addition of small, hand-drawn symbols and frames. Isabel continues to explain how they wanted to translate this subversive tone of the underground scene into the editorial format. “So we came up with the idea of four differing layouts for the four main chapters, using different type sizes for each of them, getting smaller by each chapter.” As such, the English texts are printed in red while German is in green at the end of each chapter; colour plays an imperative role as it dissects the difference between the quotes, essays and overall structure.
In other projects, the studio devised a website for the Bauhaus Foundation called Digital Atlas – an interactive map of ideas, objects, styles and persons in relation to the educational side of Bauhaus. Users can deep-dive into the various art and design schools around the world to better understand the impact and migration of the ideas in relation to this prominent design movement. Another example is a publication named Elements, created during the residency at Jan van Eck Academie and edited with Jessica Gysel. Showcasing art and design exhibitions from the year 2021, the work involved addresses the Euregio cross-border region – located between Germany and The Netherlands. “We wanted to do a bit more than an exhibition catalogue and came up with the idea to make use of the four classical elements of water, earth, fire and air as a narrative threat for the publication,” shares Christoph. “These four elements were proposed to ancient cultures as a base to explain the nature and complexity of all matter and we wanted to look at the featured exhibitions through their lens.”
Everything Offshore Studio works towards has this consistent level of cultural impact. Void of surface-deep concepts, the studio’s portfolio is littered with in-depth investigations into topics that really matter – conceived through a playful mix use symbols, software and writing. “It’s all about figuring out how to translate certain ideas, concepts themes and spaces into a visual language that seems thematically appropriate, exciting and is capable of communicating specific information in an impactful and intriguing way.”
Offshore Studio: Not at Your Service (Copyright Offshore Studio, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.