InPractice: A short case study

One of my final year projects at art school had me look into the disconnect between research and physical design practice. The two never seemed to marry up or consider each others existence. So when presented with a brief to conceptualise and design a publication, it felt like the perfect opportunity to finally force them together.

The Brief: Conceptualise and design both a printed and digitised publication centred on the theme of graphic design / typography. It must be dedicated to the late Wim Crouwel and you must generate / curate content to include in it.

I am a fan of many online publications such as Aiga and It’s Nice That as well as printed material such as Disegno and Art Review. However I always found myself constantly looking for something more within these publications. Something that can offer continuous learning and inspiration and be picked up at leisure, but not quite a book. Something that is aesthetically rich and exciting to hold, but not quite an image heavy coffee table book. I often found myself sifting through online journals and research papers throughout design projects, looking for theoretical principles and ideas that can back up my design decision making. And I noticed (not that it’s really that hard to do so) how bland and heavily academic these papers were. How could something that holds so much excitement and interesting ideas possibly look so difficult and uninviting? I was sick ae it.

To my surprise I had unintentionally hit upon a long drawn discussion about the disconnect between design academia and practice. The two seemed so disparate despite existing in their own wee paradox. Others were sick ae it too.

I set out collecting my favourite essays and journal pieces that fit into the theme of technological influence on design (a core interest of mine) and made sure to include a few shorter think pieces and interviews to break it all up so as not to be too word heavy. Aptly named it the ‘technocrat’ issue, and we were rolling.

In order to create the basic design layout for the publication, I studied the core elements of essay/journal layouts and identified some key components to their makeup. Title (genius!), abstract, body, references, images and captions and bibliography. Separating the design into these key elements helped break up the heaviness and monotony of the typical essay structure and offer the space needed to make subtle design choices and typographic care that would offer a more enjoyable and inviting reading experience.

The back of the publication is reserved for a collection of bibliographies from the essays found throughout and offer a sort of “space saving” that allows the reader to continue seamlessly from one reading experience to the next.

Utilising characteristics commonly found in essays/ journals inspired smaller design decisions for formatting interviews and additional information. The interviewee replies are indicated by small initials in the gutters of the page, reminiscent of footnote indicators and reference points. The borders of the page include footers and headers indicating what section of the publication you are on and additional links to portfolios, websites, etc.

The online counterpart aimed at fostering connection between researchers, writers, designers, lettering artists and anyone and everyone interested in the creative industry. The InPractice site acts as a sort of message board / social media hub for all specialisms to connect, find similar interests and share resources that would benefit their practice. The content collected from this shared space would have the chance to be featured in upcoming issues, breaking down entry barriers for aspiring designers and writers looking to get their work seen.

Ultimately InPractice acts as a design education resource that can be accessible to anyone, bringing exciting ideas and abstract themes to the forefront and encouraging new audiences to engage with the industry, regardless of experience.

Cheers, Emma.

Published by Emma Harvey

I am a Jr Graphic Designer and aspiring design research writer. I enjoy learning about systems and structures of communication and how this can be subverted for the betterment of our world. I also like dogs. Like, a lot...

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