Wednesday, June 26, 2013

AIGA Chicago: ”Between Light and Shadow“—realizing that chairs are creatures too

Left: Photographer: Tom Vack. Right: Design Director, Designer: Rick Valicenti.

Between Light and Shadow: The Designer/Photographer Relationship.
The AIGA Chicago event at Open Secret Studio / Chicago.
Tuesday evening, June 11, 2013.
photograph by versluis 2013

Photograph from the Open Secret Studio balcony by Steven Brooks. Photograph taken from flickr: AIGA Chicago’s photostream.

A few page spreads from the Holly Hunt Image Bookimage is courtesy of Graphis. Client: Holly Hunt. Design Director, Designer: Rick Valicenti. Designer: Robyn Paprocki. Illustrator: John Pobojewski. Illustrator: Cameron Brand. Photographer: Tom Vack

On Tuesday evening, June 11, 2013 during Chicago Design Week the AIGA Chicago held a fantastic show and tell event at the Open Secret Studio in Chicago. The event was publicized as “Between Light and Shadow: The Designer/Photographer Relationship,” which featured designer Rick Valicenti of Thirst/3st and photographer Tom Vack who spent time talking about their collaborative process to produce the beautiful Holly Hunt Image Book. Classic Color in Chicago printed the 64-page catalog on Sappi Fine Papers called Opus.

After brief introductions from event co-chairs Brendan Shanley and Robyn Paprocki the meeting was kicked-off by Holly Hunt of Holly Hunt Enterprises Inc., followed by Rick Valicenti who led the evening presentation. Rick is a cultural innovator, a leading contemporary designer and visionary, design director and visual artist. Tom Vack is an acclaimed photographer and visual artist and remarkable for his imagination.

It seems that nothing is impossible for Valicenti and Vack when collaborating on a design project. However, as Valicenti declared: “Without a visionary client [Holly Hunt] we don’t get to practice [visionary] design.” Rick suggested that a truly collaborative process begins with a fanciful client. For Valicenti and Vack a working collaborative process instigates open-mindedness and encouragement among the contributors.

Indeed, one of the most unique and striking things about Holly Hunt is that she sees her collection of furniture, lighting, and accessories as not merely inanimate objects, but actually as creatures. According to Rick it was in the planning stages of the Holly Hunt Studio catalog that Holly reviewed the sumptuous materials and surfaces of her new collection and exclaimed, “The aliens have landed and they are beautiful”. For Valicenti, Holly’s response captured the motif and emotion of the collection that “things are new again”.

Rick acknowledged that it was through the cooperation of all the participants including the people at Classic Color and Sappi who deserved much credit for continuing the collaborative spirit in order to complete the project. Tom Vack suggested that new designs, new processes and new materials require new approaches when developing tear-sheet images for the Holly Hunt Collection.

Rick explained the technical aspects of the production process while printing the page reverse negative image of the long sofa. At that moment he decided that the image needed an aura of gold flecks, which was then added to the UV coating. As a result the “fairy dust” effect would emphasize Holly’s initial quote, “The aliens have landed and they are beautiful”. Interestingly, the impact of this technique creates the quality and feel of traditional Japanese painting with mineral pigments on linen.

Additionally, Rick mentioned in a HOW Design/Sappi interview, “that many of the images are actually combinations of many images, each illuminating with a slightly different lighting direction. Once layered in post-production, this created geometric patterns of light and shadow.”(1) As Tom Vack mentioned, “photography and lighting is a formal process and with digital photography light can be anywhere and I can move it around the subject the way a Cubist way—by layering the images and erasing parts of the layers to combine and reveal the layers beneath—in this way, I developed the images.”

  1. Mazzoleni, Melissa. “Photographer & Designer Discuss New Furniture Design Publication - See more at:” HOW Design Blog 11 June 2013. Web. 15 June 2013.

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