ISABEL SEIFFERT — Interview
Isabel Seiffert, graphic designer based in Zurich.
Hello Isabel, how are you?
Very well, thank you.
Can you introduce yourself?
Sure. I am Isabel and I run my own graphic design studio in Zurich. In 2011 I graduated from Merz Akademie in Stuttgart with a degree in Visual Communications. After some work experience, I continued studying at the Zurich University of Arts (ZHdK) in the Master of Arts and Design with a major in Editorial Design. During that time, Zurich became the place I call home, so I decided to stay. After mainly working as a freelancer for a few years, I decided to open my own studio earlier this year. My work focuses primarily on editorial design and typography within a broad range of fields and projects.
Where does your interest in graphic design come from?
It was clear to me from an early age that I wanted to pursue a career in an artistic field. At school, I would always enjoy the art and drama classes the most. I remember taking an extra curriculum during 7th grade to learn writing in old style German Script. I was quite fascinated by the nature of drawing the letters. The best part was that my great-grandmother and I started writing to each other this way. We were the only ones in the family able to read our letters. To me, it almost felt like a secret language. After trying and failing to persuade my parents that I would like to study fine arts (I didn’t know about Graphic Design then), I started studies in engineering. I was quite unhappy with that, so as soon as I heard about Graphic Design, I stopped everything and applied immediately. No regrets to this day.
Can you tell us more about Not The End Of Print project – which was on the selection of the 100 beste plakate 2014?
Well, it all started out with the book‚ Not the End of Print. Warum Gestalter selbst publizieren und welche Rolle Printmedien dabei spielen (sorry for the long title) which was my final project at the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart five years ago.
I produced twenty copies and sold them mostly to friends and family. Then nothing happened until early 2014 when the publisher approached me. Since I had written the text in 2010, I wanted to rewrite and update my theory to the status quo.
I still liked the book in terms of design and layout but my typographical skills had advanced since the original version, so I decided to redesign the text part and some minor details in the book. The color gold plays a very important role in the book as it stands for the transcendence and sublimity of the printed medium and references old iconic books. For the book launch I designed a poster that needed to reflect that as well. For a huge format like a poster, the intensity of a gold screen print color wasn’t enough for me. By thinking of golden materials that could substitute paper, I quickly thought of rescue blankets. It was quite the experiment, as we didn’t know how the color would behave on the material but it worked out fine. It even had some nice unexpected effects, like when the light shines through it from behind, it almost appears embossed.
Do you have a favorite typeface to work with?
I couldn’t name just one typeface but there is certainly a set of typefaces that I regularly come back to. I don’t believe in using the same 2–3 typefaces for every client though–it always has to fit the project or concept. I prefer using contemporary typefaces more than classics, because I simply think, it’s nice to work with the tools of our time.
Is there any designer you appreciate a lot?
I discovered Ladislav Sutnar’s work a few years ago and I was really intrigued by his approach and visual boldness. As you can imagine, I was quite happy to hear about a reprint by Lars Müller Publishing that has just been published.
Then there is also Paul Laffoley. He is an American visionary artist mostly known for his complex, schematic paintings. I am very fascinated by his systematic approach and the fine line between science and fantasy that is visible in his work.
What stimulates you outside graphic design?
I am quite interested in cultural and design research of some sort or the other. I discovered the « Notes on Metamodernism » by Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker earlier this year and have been interested in their theory ever since. I am currently in the early stages of a collaboration on this topic but that’s all I can say for now. Other than that I love going to museums and riding my motorcycle on a nice sunny day.
Is there a book or a manifesto which opened your eyes about design?
I studied at two schools that had a rather theoretical approach and exposed the students to various theories in media, art and design history. Therefore I couldn’t name one particular book or manifesto that shaped my view on design. For me it seems to be the sum of a diverse number of theories and concepts that I was introduced to. But frankly, I think Joost Bottema, my teacher at Merz Akademie and Kurt Eckert, who was my mentor at the ZHdK opened my eyes about design more than any book. They are both very different from each other but have shaped my view and approach significantly.
The last word…
Thanks for having me.
Interview: Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler — 12.15
Picures an projects ©Isabel Seiffert.