Scene Peng’s multimedia design practice fosters intuitiveness and collaboration
The Shanghai-based designer is passionate about creating exhibition visuals because of the “natural and collective” work ethic that the medium provokes.
- Olivia Hingley
- 21 July 2022
One thing that the designer Scene Peng wants to ensure is that her practice doesn’t end up becoming entirely screen-based. “Unlike older generations, we are so lucky that we don’t need to spend that much time on physical printing or typesetting,” Scene identifies. But, as opposed to this making creatives and designers alike entirely immersed in a digital world, Scene sees it as giving her more time to question established methods, and try out more crafts. “I’ve found that learning and testing new mediums will activate many simultaneous ideas and hidden intuitions,” Scene says. “Those moments are so beautiful and honest and I'm very addicted to them.”
This intuitive, multimedia approach is apparent in Scene’s work for Nathan Zhou’s solo exhibition Henri Chinaski’s Short Stories Collection 2. A particular fan of producing visuals for artist exhibitions, Scene sees the projects as testing her personal skill set as well as opening up the opportunity for beneficial creative relationships. “I always approach these commissioned works with lateral thinking and pragmatic craft, while opening up a space for myself and any possible collaborators to work into a purer space with honesty,” the designer identifies. For this particular project, Scene printed all of Nathan’s paintings and cut out various characters, costumes and props, and including some of Nathan's footnotes, the collage also doubles up as an index. Allowing Nathan’s paintings to do the talking, the posters exemplify exhibition design that complements and enhances its content, and, as Scene puts it, a “natural and collective” way of working.
Scene’s pragmatism is in part rooted in her first creative passion: architecture. Born in Shanghai, as a child Scene used to pass time by obsessively drawing houses on Microsoft Paint. With such a passion for digital structural drawings, from a young age Scene set herself upon becoming an architect. But, before long Scene found herself becoming “addicted by the way architects outline their abstracted concepts in lines, and how every message is formulated into a logical presentation”, which in turn, “started my awareness of the composition of different information and excitement about the potential for graphic design to shape more”. After this discovery, Scene later moved to London to study graphic design at Central Saint Martins and has since moved back to Shanghai where she now lives and works.
One element of Scene’s work that really stands out for us here at It’s Nice That is her use and creation of typeface. For the designer, type is all about “presentation and representation”, and she often looks through archival books to source inspiration. For an exhibition of Trey Abdella’s surreal, somewhat unsettling paintings, Scene took the position of a “voyeur” to all the events he depicts, choosing to create a sense of implicit danger. This approach resulting in a bold, deep red, cinematic typeface has all the drama of a horror film poster. When creating visual elements for Chán Magazine – a newly founded magazine celebrating the UKs Sinophone community – Scene instead adopted a much friendlier look. A publication that focuses on how food has the potential to “cure”, Scene created a rounded, endearing type that has the warm character of a freshly baked biscuit.
In 2021 Scene founded In Good Company, an independent imprint creating trading printed goods between Shanghai and London as “a collective attempt to outline a hypothetical scenario where the collaborators embrace geographical separation – especially in the context of the recent virus and more people than ever connecting over different time zones”. Having produced 15 publications, and a successful debut at the Untold book fair in 2021 Scene is now currently preparing for the 2022 edition.
Scene Peng: Trey Abdella - Almost Heaven at X Museum, Poster (Copyright © Scene Peng, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.