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Work / Graphic Design

Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff question the future of the book

Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff have created, Our Form of Book, a publication exploring posters being used as a medium for propaganda but condensed into the format of a hand-sized volume. According to the team, it “investigates the future of the book through the lens of a text written in 1927 by El Lissitzky titled Our Book”.

The studio describes Our Form of Book as being about "Persian weaving and PDFs, Risograph printers and prints… paper, sticks and gnome planks – it’s about graphic design, production, distribution and about making books.”

Our Polite Society is made up of Matthias Kreutzer and Jens Schildt, and with Paul Gangloff the project was borne from a workshop they conducted together at the design department of ArtEZ art academy in Arnhem, The Netherlands. Examining the recent influx of publications and articles surrounding “the future of the book”, the team landed on El Lissitzky’s text as a major reference.

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

To create the book, Paul and Our Polite Society picked out four questions from the text that interested them and asked them again in the contemporary content of graphic design. The result is a series of visual responses using a mix of typography and images that feels full of texture and depth in the way it’s been printed. The book is organised according to those questions into four parts; Posters in the Streets, The Worker’s Consciousness, The Consumer’s Demand and Our Children’s Reading.

While the four parts are inspired by the same text, they’re actually very “different in their tone and look”. This difference has been achieved through working with a guest editor/designer for each question raised with Anya Naumova and Kirill Blagodatskikh, Delphine Bedel, Tim Voss and Will Holder having all been involved in the project.

As such the structure of the book is complex and more digestible taken as one section at a time. Even when making the book the team adopted a unconventional approach to distill the ideas within the publication. “During Our Form of Book, the un-making and re-making of the original book plan became an important element, as it created a succession of situations. Each part of the book was an entity with its own timing and ideology,” the studio says. “This opened up many in-between spaces for a number of inventions and improvisations, big and small, for each part. For example, we designed three different typefaces for the project, each as a reaction to a specific situation.”

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas

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Our Polite Society and Paul Gangloff: Our Form of Book. Photo: Paulien Barbas