It’s been over two years since we last wrote about the elegant work of Taiwanese graphic designer Wang Zhi-Hong. A leading designer in his field, Wang’s designs have always centred on books – and still do – but the past year or so has seen him opening up his practice to include “other collaboration possibilities”. For example, in 2018, he designed visual identities for Hong Kong International Photo Festival and for an exhibition by Lars Müller Publishers in Taiwan. One thing has remained the same throughout his shifting practice, however, and that’s an appreciation of typography, particularly of Chinese characters.
A flick through Wang’s portfolio is satisfying for anyone with a penchant for graphic design, as he cleverly combines shape, image and text, often treating the latter as an illustrative element. It’s a style his eponymous studio has become well known (and loved) for over its 19 years of existence.
With that much experience under his belt, Wang is now starting to look at different ways he can approach designing. “In recent years, I’ve tried to adjust how much information is included in the design, or the way to speak out, hoping for more focused results,” he tells us. This has resulted in more synthesised designs, often with a more pared-back colour palette or a more considered use of letterings on a page. Wang himself describes this as a “hiding of information”.
Still using his main interests of “photography, architecture, art, etc” as starting points to inspire projects, Wang cites his identity for the Hong Kong International Photo Festival as a recent favourite project of his. “Because for a very long time I’ve been paying close attention to the photographers and their explorations into redefining the aesthetics of photography this festival signifies,” he adds on why this is. “And I’ve helped publish several books about this movement. That’s exactly why HKIPF assigned me to design for the project.”
Largely monochromatic in black and white, the identity sees the words “Provoke & Beyond” set in both English and Chinese and overlapping work from the festival. There’s a haphazardness to the design as different elements collide, almost as if misprinted. This, Wang explains, was done to invoke “disorder and carelessness”, ideas representative of the Provoke movement in 1960s Japan. It’s a solution which shows the awareness Wang approaches his projects with, turning research into nuanced design decisions which embody a concept, although not always in the most forthright way.
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