From data collection to the role camo plays in fashion: Superimpose's Bookshelf

1 August 2018
Reading Time
4 minute read

From video content for Adidas and visual campaigns for Burberry to its own platform Services Unknown; Superimpose Studio constantly impress us with its work. Champions of fresh and exciting work, the studio creates innovative and forward-thinking commercial work that challenges brands to go further and think deeper.

Set up in East London just over three years ago by Ollie Olanipekun and Toby Evans, Superimpose is intelligent, thoughtful and provocative — when the pair founded the studio, the first thing they did was get the biggest bookshelf they could to fit the space. “It was a great way to learn from each other and learn more about each other”, Toby tells us. “Finding out each other’s visual and cultural references and tastes, as well as pushing to look into different places and sources of inspiration”. The duo wanted to avoid the lazy, infinite scroll of Instagram and Tumblr and instead explore and collaborate in the real world.

As a studio that has such a clear foundation when it comes to books, we asked the founders of Superimpose to pick the titles that have inspired and excited them the most over the past few years. Check out Toby and Ollie’s selection below.

The Face: June 1997

A few years ago, I walked past one of those giant industrial bins near our old Hoxton Square studio and noticed stacks of The Face piled up. I grabbed as many as I could before diving head first into the bin to grab the few copies left that weren’t ruined by bin juice. I was stinking, but it was well worth a new complete collection.

The Face was ahead of its time, but even more so when you look at it in context now, during the rise and hype of digital influencers such as Lil Miquela. Here was a lifestyle magazine placing a digital character front and centre, treating it like any other cover star, from the anecdotes and the article by Miranda Sawyer, down to the styling. Taking risks and challenging perspectives with original content, The Face was 20 years ahead. It was thinking brave, and capturing the future zeitgeist provocatively. The cover is only the start.

H3K: Poetics and Politics of Data

We didn’t go to the actual exhibition, but the corresponding book really does it justice. It’s a must-have in understanding not just how our society is shifting in the undercurrent, but how artistic creativity is responding to this historic moment in time.

It’s a deep dive into a world where the sheer increase of the pace of data collection is alarmingly scary (90% of data ever collected has been amassed in the past 2 years), profiling its use in forming an algorithmic society and new models of government. It juxtaposes this against a select list of artworks that have explored this phenomenon over the last few years; it binds multiple disciplines in a visually stimulating way.

Mind blowing, inspiring and pretty dooming all at the same time, books like this keeps us on our toes in trying to comprehend and predict the drivers affecting global behaviours of the present and the future.

Issey Miyake / Tadanori Yokoo: Paris Collections 1977-1999

These are two legendary Japanese icons (artist and designer respectively) who have collaborated long term across print for Miyake’s collections as well as all invites and supporting collateral. The book spans work from over two decades and, as a reader, you can really notice the lack of a visual “red thread”. Every season took a totally different technique and visual direction. It’s always so fascinating to see influential individuals grow and collaborate over such an extended period of time, building their own practices as well as creating such an eclectic body of work together.

Esprit: The Comprehensive Design Principle

The title pretty much sums it up – it is very comprehensive. What is really special about this book is the amount of design and direction that spans across architecture, apparel, signage, packaging and advertising. All very poppy 80s and 90s colours with a nod to the Memphis design movement. It’s good to flick through, but you will definitely notice its age. For one, the casting is generally a lot of smiley Caucasian individuals. Secondly, the number of plastic ephemera used through their packaging is stark, particularly living in current age we do now as modern consumers. Also, you can tell this was all in a pre-digital era with a lot more identity used within the physical space.

Hardy Blechman and Alex Newman: DPM

Trying to sum this one up in one paragraph is a real challenge. It’s an encyclopaedia of camouflage showcasing most of the planet’s army uniforms, to their influences from nature, through to the print bleeding into fashion and the impact on streetwear culture. Honestly, I wouldn’t say this makes it off the shelf much, but it is an incredible (and slightly overwhelming) source of knowledge.

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About the Author

Emma Latham Phillips

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