Design practice Anak creates a “treasure trove” index which collates the work of Asian creatives
Created with the incentive of platforming Asian creativity and delving into as many disciplines as possible, the index provides a brilliant tool for both creatives and those seeking to commission.
- Olivia Hingley
- 9 May 2022
The Asian Creators Index (ACI), devised and created by design practice Anak, is a compendium of Asia’s diverse artists, craftspeople and creatives. Beginning with the broad objective of celebrating “the quality, fluidity and breadth of creativity across the global Asian diaspora”, says a release from Anak, the index is designed to be “a simple, intuitive and comprehensive ‘one-stop gateway’ that enables greater collaboration between Asia’s thriving creative community and the world at large”.
The ACI started “organically” many years ago, explains Juliana Ong, an art buyer at Anak. In its first form it existed as “just a simple document for us to collect the many talented artists and creators we’d seen and wanted to work with”, Juliana shared with us. But, over time: “It suddenly occurred to us that hoarding this special place of inspiration and joy was less exciting than inviting everyone into it.”
Creating the directory was by no means easy, taking hours of research, reading, connecting and learning. To streamline the process, the team applied a strict criteria to consider when looking for creatives to feature: “was it original, was it inspirational, were the mediums powerful, did it capture the energy of Asia and how did it make us feel?”; “ideally jealous!”, she adds lightheartedly. At the forefront of the team’s planning was also the desire to make sure they didn’t limit themselves to any particular discipline. “It’s too easy to restrict ourselves to certain mediums these days, so it was really important to us to ensure our research covered both traditional and digital creations, 2D to 3D, visual to audio, stills to motion, hand-crafted to technology-based”, Juliana says. “The spectrum of disciplines covered is an ode to creativity itself, that it exists as it is expressed in so many mediums.”
The hard work has certainly paid off. The index is full of brilliant talent, and showcases some of the most exciting new work in creative the industry today. Including the work of Hailun Ma, Myungsik Jang and Wang Zhi-Hong, the index also features a few It’s Nice That favourites to boot. But, not only is the platform benefitting creatives, it also serves as an important tool for them too. “This public index, from the Instagram posts alone, introduced and connected me to such a diverse group of artists and to a world of craft and art like I've never seen before!”, says Daphne Chow, founder of Ilyang Ilyang – a Philippines-based “hardcore handmade crochet” shop. “It’s bite-sized which makes it so easy for us to discover and reach out to one another and create a relationship from there. It’s overwhelmingly inspiring that it fuels me to keep creating and keep supporting Asian creators around the world”, she expands.
When designing the index, the team knew that they needed to make it “dynamic”, explains Anak designer Freda Lai. With the logo being conceptualised as a “container” – “allowing images of all kinds to sit in between the R’s of the logomark which were customised to look like quotation marks” – and a monotone colour palette, the identity was purposefully made to direct focus to the creatives work. Taking a hybrid approach to typography to suit the nature of the index’s format, the designers applied a Google font, IMB Plex Sans, which has “characteristics of something digital and functional for an index that exists solely on the world wide web” Freda says. Pairing it with VJ’s elegant type Love, represents the index’s “timeless and fluid side” whilst bringing an “elegant and modern mix” to the typography. The designers applied an editorial format for the index system which allowed for over 300 different layouts using a single grid, which Freda sees as “really expressing the feeling of the ACI being this expansive and chaotic ecosystem which somehow comes together quite harmoniously”.
Discussing how the platform might be received, Juliana says: “We’d love people to use it, enjoy it, and ideally share it with their creative communities and networks”. And, importantly, Anak also want the ACI to play a role in broadening the geographic scope from which creatives source their inspiration. “We want creatives from Iceland drawing inspiration from the Index; or producers from Bolivia collaborating with the creators we’ve featured.” Juliana says. “Anything and everything is possible, and there’s no excuse anymore to live in our bubbles, not tapping into the rich global creative community that exists.”
Anak: Asian Creators Index (Copyright © Asian Creators Index, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.