“We like to stress the importance of the process and leave its structure exposed”: Studio Fax on its experimental design practice
Meet the London-based multidisciplinary design studio noted for its long-lasting partnerships and non traditional client approach.
- Jyni Ong
- 13 October 2020
Aldo D’Angelo and Dario Gracceva met at London College of Communication while both studying for a master’s in Graphic Design. They had many friends in common but didn’t get the chance to collaborate until years later, back in 2017. After respective stints in London studios and working freelance, one day, as Dario remembers, “Aldo called and asked me to help him on a new project he was working on.”
Their first collaboration wasn’t the most successful of projects as “funnily enough,” adds Dario, “we lost that client”. Nevertheless it forged a complementary working relationship between the two, who both enjoyed working with each other. Soon enough, a few more opportunities came their way and a new studio was borne, Studio Fax.
Today we can admire the studio’s work for its diverse range of projects from visual identities to art direction, websites, publications, type design, exhibitions, and even furniture. With a like-minded approach when it comes to working with clients, Studio Fax’s concept-driven work is noted for its long-lasting partnerships and non traditional client approach. The pair talk us through three recent projects, each one unique in its skillset and idea. The first, “one of our favourite projects,” Aldo reveals, involved creating the visual identity for furniture brand TMPL founded by Dale Stephens.
In the eyes of Aldo and Dario, “Dale is more than a product designer,” with the talents of a craftsman and artist too. The creative process kicked off with a conversation where the parties involved discussed how to design an identity which didn’t feel too much like a furniture brand. As TMPL is more of a concept than brand, Studio Fax sought to subtly hint to the expression of Dale’s work. Using Union as a “simple yet distinctive grotesque” in the word mark which in turn, mimics the shape of his work, the visual identity communicates Dale’s delicate use of materials, textures and colour.
Elsewhere in its portfolio, Studio Fax recently designed its second album for Greyheads, a project they began with a visual identity back in 2017. Elevating the experience of a record sleeve by accentuating its physicality, “we felt that exploring the materiality of the record sleeve as an object was in line with the artist’s inspiration for the album,” explains Aldo. Titled Homes, the design doesn’t obviously connect with the concept. Instead it leaves open interpretation for the audience to recall their own ideas of home. The record sleeve draws on the aesthetic of a generic parcel, an object that is fundamentally “used to transmit messages from one place to another” while being an intriguing and precious object to interact with at the same time.
Both these projects point to a new direction for Studio Fax. Expanding from the conventional sense of what it means to be a design studio, the founding partners are steering towards a more experimental and multidisciplinary route. With intuition at the fore of its process, Studio Fax’s output is consistently considered yet raw and unfinished at the same time. In short, “we like to stress the importance of the process and leave its ‘structure exposed’.”
With this in mind, Aldo and Dario leave this project until last to discuss. It’s a self-initiated project which can be both challenging and rewarding for its creators, particularly because “it’s not easy to be your own client.” The project titled Black coated, welded steel is a unique piece made earlier this year depicting exactly what its title suggests.
A beautiful, minimal chair-cum-sculpture, the piece was the result of a spontaneous and fairly quick process. Its function and purpose is open for discussion while its construction methods are purposefully vague. “There are no screws and exposed welds, the chair can be potentially imagined as one piece,” the pair finally go on to say. “But in the end, it doesn’t really matter, we just see the potential of being able to experiment with different forms of expression without the constraints of a pre-determined definition.”
Studio FAX – Feng Chen Wang/AW19 Invite (Copyright © Studio FAX, 2019)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.