While his focus is “clearly on typography,” Bern-based graphic designer Sebastian Wyss is allowing himself time to experiment with styles and visual languages, having graduated just this summer. He studied at Bern University of the Arts and between his second and third years, completed an internship at Studio Johnson/Kingston, “which had a big influence” on his work today. With an output that includes typefaces, posters, publications and even some textiles, Sebastian is an exciting designer to be catching up with, especially as he just moved into a studio with several friends.
During his studies, Sebastian was encouraged to sketch out ideas using pen and paper, a process that felt odd to him. “Besides school I never use a pen nor paper, it feels natural for me to use the computer to sketch,” he explains. Now graduated, he allows himself the freedom to experiment with solely digital tools. “Why not use these digital tools to get new or unexpected results?,” he poses. “Unexpected things can happen by using the given tools or software in a different way than just using them for implementation.” This notion – of using tools in new ways, or using tools he’s not experienced in – often dictates Sebastian’s projects, and sees him using machine learning and algorithms regularly within his design process.
Like many, skateboarding is what brought Sebastian to graphic design. That, and the fact that his dad worked as a photographer and typesetter. “As a teenager I was really into skateboarding,” he recalls. “Someone had to film everything to put together sponsor-me-tapes. I was the only one who had a camera, so one day I took it with me and quickly realised that I liked filming and taking pictures even more.” Shortly after, Sebastian started designing flyers and using lettraset, and then the computer.
As part of a coding class at university, Sebastian created the font Unité in collaboration with a friend. “We wanted to create a font that could be controlled and animated by a sensor using Processing,” he tells us. The final typeface took six months to produce, and while Processing was used in the initiation of the project, it was not a defining factor in its outcome, which functions as a traditional typeface does. When designing a typeface for a series of posters for several type design lectures, Sebastian also produced a generatively designed typeface called Lizard using scripts in Glyphsapp. Results such as these typify the portfolio of this digitally-native designer, for whom technology isn’t a gimmick or a phase, but an accepted part of his toolkit when designing.
Algorithms also based a major role in the development of his bachelor thesis project titled The Laws of Success which utilises thousands of motivational quotes to generate new ones. “With this database, I wanted to create a daily calendar, for daily self-optimisation,” he explains. “In addition, the algorithm takes over all other tasks from layout to file export at the push of just one button.” For the final piece, the algorithm created 20 unique daily calendars and a book. In terms of aesthetics, “generative design is often very easily recognisable,” Sebastian explains, and he wanted to avoid this. In turn, the final product bears none of the usual hallmarks of a project created through programming, again a demonstration of Sebastian’s seamless integration of technology into his design process. The project will soon be exhibited at the Swiss Innovation Center, and Sebastian hopes to release a first edition before the end of the year.
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