Parallel Practice's Bookshelf provides insight into its thorough understanding of graphic design

20 June 2018
Reading Time
3 minute read

Prague-based design studio, Parallel Practice AKA Michal Landa and Jan Brož are a firm favourite of ours here at It’s Nice That. For years now, the duo has been impressing us with their eclectic designs which layer imagery and utilise type as a graphic element. From identities to posters, to album sleeves and publications, the studio can do it all with each design surpassing the previous.

For this week’s Bookshelf, Michal and Jan have selected a lineup of five books housed at their studio which provide them with continued inspiration and reference. From a detailed look at complex printing techniques to a catalogue of prolific Czech designers, Michal and Jan’s selection provides a genuine insight into the pair’s thorough understanding of graphic design. Check out which titles made it into Parallel Practice’s top five below.

Petr Bosák and Robert Jansa: Proto

Parallel Practice: Proto translates to “prototype” as well as “because” in our mother tongue. The diploma project of Petr Bosák & Robert Jansa (the founding members of 20YY Designers studio) at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, Prague (UMPRUM) from 2013 compiles the significant works of more than eighty Czech graphic designers, artists and writers in a search for borders between art and design.

The radical selection of visual pieces is structured in the format of four chapters (Manifesto, Unreadability, It is Design, The Appendix) accompanied by essays and descriptive captions. The selection articulates the strong curatorial and personal standpoints of its editors over its conceptual and formal variety and might be considered as an index of what is in these days called the “Prague scene”. We still believe the English edition will be published one day. 

Maximage: The Most Beautiful Swiss Books 2013

PP: Only a few books in our studio are used as often as this one. There is obviously a tradition to approach The Most Beautiful Swiss Books catalogue as a tool for the designers (looking back at 2005 edition by Laurent Benner or the recent one by Hubertus Design). In this respect, Maximage delivered the most radical edition, exploring various possibilities of the print production.

The spectrum offers comparisons between 200 and 300 DPI resolution, the comparison of Heidelberg and HP Indigo printers on the same page (!) or highly experimental techniques such as the various results of dissolving inks with thinners. This technically focused concept also defined the amazing raw look of the whole publication.

Louise Paradis, Roland Früh and François Rappo: 30 Years of Typografische Monatsblätter

PP: What would Emil Ruder do with the ZBrush? Although the possibilities and creative tools have dramatically evolved over the last 40 years, we feel that certain dilemmas and principles remain the same. Therefore the discourse that has developed around the Basel School of Design and through Typografische Monatsblätter is also a part of our ongoing discussion. 30 Years presents a surgically precise reflection of the core and tangential results of so-called international style. The purity of certain methods based on a minimal use of tools contained in this excellently produced book is ever-relevant.

Ashley Bickerton: Susie

PP: Bickerton’s works from the 1980s New York period was a step ahead of his generation. His hanging assemblages resonate with us maybe because of the distance they had to have from his contemporaries and the otherness they have kept up until today. Beside its contents, the formal aspects of the catalogue, designed by Teo Schifferli, serve as an example of a precise execution. This is especially obvious when it comes to the treatment and postproduction of the photographs. The first half of the book, which consists of high contrast close-ups, is followed by the other half where masked out colourful composites underline the timeless qualities of Bickerton’s work. We often look at this book as a standard for the design of artists’ monographs.

Experimental Jetset: Statement and Counter-Statement

PP: It feels almost inappropriate to select this must–have designers opus for this article. But for us, the volume doesn’t only represent the outstanding oeuvre and complex attitude of Experimental Jetset, but also a canonic vision for the genre of a portfolio book. The decisions regarding the size, binding and materiality as well as the one-to-one reproductions of the printed matter with attached texts provide the personalised experience of the works far beyond everyday online consumption.

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

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