Vrints-Kolsteren on a year of self-initiated and self-published work
We find out what the much-admired studio, comprised of Vincent Vrints and Naomi Kolsteren, has been up to this past year.
- Ruby Boddington
- 16 December 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
When we caught up with design studio Vrints-Kolsteren, the pair had just returned from China for the launch of their first publication, Kado. A studio we’ve long admired here at It’s Nice That and one comprised of Vincent Vrints and Naomi Kolsteren, we were keen to find out what else they had been up to across the past year.
Turns out it’s been a year of self-initiated and self-published work, culminating in the recent launch of their publishing venture Vrints-Kolsteren Editions. “We recently started to work on a few independent projects that were not related to clients,” Naomi explains. Having completed several non-commercial projects in collaboration with artists – for example, Chair, a publication designed for Benny van den Meulengracht-Vrancx and a T-shirt titled Red together with Frédéric Jaman – they wanted a platform where they could launch these kinds of works independently.
“Instead of releasing these through a publisher, we decided that we wanted full control over the design and the end product and so we wanted to publish these works ourselves,” Vincent says. “It is much more satisfying to be personally involved during every step of the process from start to finish.” And the duo has big plans for the imprint, describing it as a “playground” to experiment and initiate research projects. “With our Kado project, we experimented with many printing techniques. For example, we wanted the typography on the cover to have the same tactile quality as a flower petal. We, therefore, experimented with adding ingredients to the ink of the silkscreen to make it thicker so the print would have more structure and a softness to it,” Naomi says.
While this technique clearly has its benefits in terms of tactility, it also helps to consolidate the publication’s concept. “Kado is a synonym for ikebana, which is a Japanese art form of arranging flowers. Kado can also be translated as ‘the way of the flowers’,” Vincent says. For the duo, Japan has always been a big source of inspiration and they had wanted to do a project about ikebana for a long time. But they didn’t want to just copy the art form, instead looking to take the approach and make it into something new.
Naomi explains: “You could see the book as a collaboration in a way. Instead of working together with an artist, you could see this project as a collaboration with the audience. They make their own flower arrangements, but they will always make their own ikebanas with our personal set of editorial rules.” The result is a book that allows readers to flower arrange in print, by layering up different pages of the book to produce unique compositions. It’s a translation of the tactile qualities of flowers but also a celebration of what print still retains over digital.
Finally, the project features a bespoke typeface, inspired by organic shapes but still produced in a systematic grid, inspired by Kado which focuses on composition, including the space around an object. “For us,” Naomi continues, “it’s important to give something unique and bespoke, which we achieve by creating these custom typefaces. Kado is essentially a full translation of what we do in our practice: a combination of concept, photography, typography and editorial design.”
Away from their self-initiated work, Vincent and Naomi have been ploughing on with their commercial work as well. Recently this has particularly focused on visual identities. This year, they worked with Antwerp Art for the third year in a row. Having started out doing Antwerp Art Weekend, they gradually progressed to doing all their visual communication as well as a new visual identity. It’s a project which demonstrates the duo’s understanding of the need for flexible identities, as what they’ve produced has no static logo in the way most institutions do.
“The more we work with visual identities, the more we try to push a different way of working,” Vincent explains. “We try to invest in developing dynamic and versatile systems instead of focusing on the logo. Most of our identities don’t even have a logo at all.” Having also worked on identities for Atelier 03, Everyday Gallery and the Peter Benoit Foundation, it’s been an exciting year for Vrints-Kolsteren, and we’re excited to see what visual identity or self-published book the studio releases next.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.