“Beginning early last year, we created da大 as an outlet that we hope to use to explore peoples’ different understandings of things both in visual and linguistic terms,” explain Maxim Cormier and Xuechen Fan of ori.studio. Based in Beijing, the duo recently released the second issue of da大 titled c-site which brings together several contributors to discuss one topic, “new”, through an updated model of the interview format.
The character 大 (pronounced “da”) means big, wide and broad in Chinese and represents Maxim and Xuechen’s intentions with the publication. “It’s easy to become comfortable in ones own bubble and not interact with things outside of it,” they explain, “I think with da大 we’re hoping to break this pattern a little, and expand the number of ideas and opinions which we’re exposed to.”
In order to create an environment which encouraged open dialogue, the pair removed themselves as interviewers altogether, instead, allowing the contributors to lead the conversation. As a result, da大 sees participant (a) asking a question to participant (b), who after answering asks a question to the next person down the list ©, “so as to achieve a more natural and autonomous form of dialogue”, they add. The only prompt given to each contributor was the topic and an introduction to the other participants, leading to a wide-ranging conversation far beyond that which Maxim and Xuechen could have predicted.
Featuring the likes of Daniel Everett, aaajiao, and Yui Takada, each contributor was chosen to show a diverse set of focusses and backgrounds, but also for their connection “new”. They explain how, “Takuma Tsuji in his practice,” for example, “approaches architecture with the goal of generating new from old, in many projects reusing and reassembling old materials to create something entirely new. Go Itami via his photography changes the way in which we see things, taking photographs of our every day, but atomised. The original context vanishes, and from this new perspectives bubble up to the surface.”
In terms of its design, da大 allows this conversation to dominate. The main section is bilingual, (Chinese and Japanese) and so the typography is arranged so that the languages merge “to form cohesive patterns which flow down the page”. Subtle elements like silver ink and thin paper which allows images on the opposite side to show through, add depth without comprising the reading experience.
An experimental publishing project, da大 is typical of Maxim and Xuechen’s work as a studio. Both expressive and pragmatic, it displays their love of the possibilities graphic design offers. “Graphic design seems to hover between the perceptual and the rational, self-restrained but also unconstrained in expressing things,” they conclude, “When you blend these aspects together the outcome of a project becomes undefined until finished which, for us, is exciting.”
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