Three years ago, we discovered the budding young graphic designer, Sascia Reibel, studying at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe. Tackling the abstract through a type-based book, the German designer has gone from strength to strength in the three short years. She’s now an academic assistant at the newly founded Institute of Interactive Practice of Digital Design, she co-founded the co-working design studio cc99 in Karlsruhe, and has continuously progressed in her ever-shifting design practice.
“A designer also needs to fulfil the role of editor,” explains Sascia on how design should meaningfully shape the outcome of a project. In a recent project IKEA.CN, which took place over the designer’s recent six month stay in Beijing, Sascia explores the popularity of the “Western lifestyle” through Beijing’s first IKEA. First opened in 2006, the Swedish furniture mogul draws around seven million visitors per year to its 44,000 square meters of homeware-laden space.
“It’s a common Saturday afternoon activity for Beijing’s residents to take a trip to one of its two branches” says Sascia. The capital city’s inhabitants are frequently seen napping on beds, chatting with friends on sofas and offering local kids a “breath of fresh air” from the smog-free congestion. “Taking a nap in IKEA is such a common thing to do, there’s even a term coined for it used throughout China: 露소敎얾 which means “living house furniture nap.”
Every weekend, Sascia decided to visit the stores and document her observations through photography. As a result, she’s created a photo essay which captures “my very personal, Eurocentric view” within another cultural context. “To visually emphasise the effects of these overcrowded, loud and exhausting visits, I generated a custom colour profile which incorporated IKEA blue and yellow, multiplied with other colour channels to create an over-amplified colour scheme which is dreamlike and surreal.” It is, in her words, an “unusual outburst of colour” for the designer.
In other work, Sascia combines fictional and historic stories surrounding three iconic female figures who have all interpreted coding in different ways. Featuring Ingeborg Bachmann, Hedy Lamarr and the Abbess, Sascia pays tribute to the linguistic indivisibility writer, the actress who encrypted radio remote controls during The Second World War and the universal scholar respectively. Titled Ekstase 123, the publication accompanies artist Yutie Lee’s first solo show and was produced in close collaboration with the artist.
She views her practice in a permanent state of flux, which can be exhausting at times, but also “a luxury” as she doesn’t feel like she has to decidedly define herself. Though her work is recognisable in its monochromatic, type-centred rigidity, Sascia is wary of the potential dangers of getting “stuck in a certain look or impression”. As a consequence, she maintains a conscious effort to challenge herself through design while purposely seeking out projects and clients that allow her a substantial amount of creative freedom.