To put it simply, Prague-based design studio Parallel Practice is just really, really great. Every year, like clockwork, we check in with the studio’s Michal Landa and Jan Brož to see what they’re up to, and each time their website plays host to a bunch of projects somehow better than the already impressive ones that came before.
Catching up with the pair this time brought our attention to three projects, in particular, spreading across a series of posters, an album campaign and book design too. Always fans of geometric design with flair, Jan and Michal’s recent work sees them testing the waters of what graphic design could be, and as always they’ve collaborated with some brilliant designer friends too.
One such collaboration is with Parallel Practice’s pals 20YY Designers for Ultra! Ultra, an album by hip-hop artist Vladimir 518. All projects we’ve previously delved into by the studio display Parallel Practice’s typographic eye, a distinct practice of the studio people regularly praise them for. However, for this project typography is left behind, beginning the project “with a 3D scan of the musician’s head which we used as a starting point for the visual exploration, picking up cues from the music and translating them into visual elements,” Michal tells It’s Nice That. The result is a striking record sleeve starring Vladimir’s head at the forefront, resembling a daunting robot that would definitely stop you in your tracks. Alongside just the record sleeve, this initial experimentation also inspired “a number of portraits or identities that were used on the cover and in the campaign promoting the release of the album,” explains Michal. One of these is a short looping video of the head spinning and warping into a host of graphic characters.
Parallel Practice’s work on Ultra! Ultra! also sees the studio playing with a particular colour palette of neon reds, blues and greens. This selection continues into Pramen (The Source) presenting the work of Prague’s studio of photography at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design. Picking up on “previously unfinished or unpublished works,” the book acts as “a rather raw collection of images rather than a monograph,” explains Michal. Approaching the project “from the position of photo editors, picking up a mixture of various content from the wealth of provided data,” means the visual context of the book changes from page to page. Some double page spreads praise one image in particular, whereas others mix and match studio photographs of process. “The idea of a stream flowing from the source helped to set up basic principles of the design,” Michal continues. By using the “centre of the spreads as main layout area,” and Color Library’s profile “to narrow a colour spectrum,” Parallel Practice link back to the actual photographic printing process, bringing it “close to the feeling of raw unpolished images in their original form”.
The last project in their recent design repertoire sees Parallel Practice comfortably back with its library of fonts creating posters for four exhibitions currently on at the Centre of Contemporary Art Futura, Prague, and is the latest graphic contribution to an ongoing visual identity of the gallery. Each poster is carefully thought out with applied design thinking, as “every one of these letters is directly reacting to the intentions of the artists and curators,” says Michal. “Over the past few years, the project Alphabet of Futura has become a playground that allows the testing of often obscure conceptual and visual approaches but strictly maintains its black and white space of screen printed B1 posters,” evident in the final designs.
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