MFA PORTFOLIO overview
“History does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us.” — James Baldwin
The essence of Baldwin’s sentiment is that history is not some distant, separate part of the human experience. Rather it continually perpetuates itself, cycling through era after era, mixing past, present and future.
History informs all aspects of my design process, which is why I chose to call my bound MFA portfolio DOCUMENT. Documentation is the intersection of history and design. As the former, a document is a factual record and of the latter it’s a covetable artifact. Just as with a historian’s efforts, a designer’s role as communicator is to clarify by framing and to convey ideas through distillation. The outcome—in each case—is predicated on one’s own point of view, as well as audience demands.
The MINISTRY OF DESIGN is an overarching metaphor I have used to present this MFA work. In my view, design is an integral part of the ‘culture industry’ (coined by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer to refer to the mass output of ideas in industrial societies), though perhaps not popularly regarded as such. Everything the designer produces, regardless of medium, is part of a continual and ever-evolving visual record of the human condition. As a fictional institution, The MINISTRY OF DESIGN comments on this dynamic.
Accordingly, as visual communicator, cultural commentator and information organizer, the designer has become the chief archivist of our life and times.
The final book is 275 pages, luxuriously bound by The Key Printing and Binding in Oakland, California. The quarterbinding includes an inlaid label on the cover, blind debossing, and a custom slipcase with label window.
I designed DOCUMENT to recall government archives of the mid 20th Century. All of the content is rendered typewritten and set to elite pitch specifications for authenticity: twelve characters per inch horizontally, 6 lines per inch vertically. The 'filing' forms are vellum shortsheets, and include typeface specifications and color palettes.
Each of the ten projects are presented as photographed on archival 4x5 glass slides.
MINISTRY OF DESIGN collateral and form minutiae set in Gotham, designed by Tobias Frere-Jones in 2000 for Hoefler & Frere-Jones. Form text set in Typewriter Extra Bold, designed by Thomas Sokolowski in 1992 for Apply Design Group. Body copy and captions set in Warnock, designed by Robert Slimbach in 2000 for Adobe Systems, Inc.
Overall, the palette is neutral grays, anchored by a deep burgundy for the cover and section breaks. Stamped minutiae consists of two reds and two blues.