Laurence Kubski, Swiss graphic designer, art director and photographer.

Hello Laurence, how are you?

Hello, I’m doing great! It’s December in Hong Kong and I’m enjoying my stay here very much.

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m a Swiss graphic designer. I graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor in Graphic Design at ECAL in Lausanne, after which I worked in various agencies in Switzerland and abroad. After a few years, I came back to ECAL to do a Master in Art Direction, while keeping my own practice and teaching on the side. Today I am working in the fields of graphic design and art direction. My practice also includes photography.

What are you doing in Hong Kong?

After graduating last summer, I was given the opportunity of a 5 months residency in Hong Kong as a part of a new partnership between ECAL and Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI). This residency includes a part-time teaching job at HKDI, where I give lectures and workshops to graphic design students, while I can work on my own projects during the remaining time. This is a great opportunity to discover and work in this amazing city…

Where does your interest in graphic design come from?

For many years I thought about becoming a journalist, but I realized that I preferred creating images rather than texts. In a way, these two professions have similarities: to communicate an existing content, it’s equally important to find a relevant tone of voice than an appropriate graphic language. I also enjoy having clients in different fields, from the CHUV (Lausanne University Hospital) to the Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne Museum of Photography) or a retail chain – for me it’s like a collection of various small reportages.

Can you tell us more about your editorial project Domesticate?

Domesticate is my Master graduation project. Since publications about animals are usually intended for hunters, environmentalists, wildlife photographers or pet owners, I wanted to create a culture-oriented magazine about man-animal interactions.

Domestication is the process of taming an animal and making it fit to live with humans while compromising its ability to live in the wild. It is 33,000 years old. Since human interaction with animals have been rich and complex, evolving together with the changes in technology, ethics and cultural standpoints, the topics and points of view emerging are as astonishing as numerous.

For this first issue of Domesticate I visited Tokyo cafes where owls are for rent, I met Swiss gamekeepers monitoring lynx and I discovered alternative methods to make wildlife photography. I am currently working to turn Domesticate into a real publication. By the way, I am still looking for editorial and photographic contributions…

You designed one of the young socialists’ campaign here in Switzerland. How was it to work for a political client?

It was one of the first projects I’ve done on my own, right after finishing my Bachelor. This political campaign was for the election to the National Council, which runs every four years in Switzerland. I worked with Canton Fribourg’s young section of the socialist party.

During our first meeting, one of the young politicians told me that they actually had no chance to win a seat at the National Council, but that the campaign was their best opportunity to spread their ideas. This gave a clear direction for the graphic identity of the campaign: prioritizing their messages instead of promoting the candidates through the classic huge portraits.

Accepting a political mandate is an issue. I would definitely never have agreed to design the campaign for the UDC party (the populist Swiss nationalist right-wing party). I know that some designers and agencies refuse to work in the political field altogether for fear of losing clients.

Do you have a favorite typeface to work with?

I don’t have one favorite. I’m lucky to have many good type designers as friends so whenever possible I aim to use their typefaces.

Is there any designer you appreciate a lot?

Many for sure… I currently really like Peter Bilak’s work as editor of the excellent magazine “Works that Work”, and of course Ludovic Balland for his radical approach and aesthetic – he is one of the teachers who impressed me the most during my studies at ECAL.

What stimulates you outside graphic design?

A lot of things make me curious. I would love to spend my life travelling, discovering one country after the other… I enjoy working on Domesticate for instance because it leads me to investigate across various fields. Animals are the central topic of the magazine, but at the same time it is a pretext to look into culture, art, science, urbanism and industry.

Is there a book or a manifesto which opened your eyes about design?

I’m not really into theory. To me, a publication with an original concept and strong aesthetic can be as eye-opening and inspiring as a manifesto. One of the first examples that really caught my attention was Select, Arrange, the two-volume catalogue for Vitra designed by Cornel Windlin in 2005.

The last word…

Thank you for this interview! See you soon in Switzerland!


Interview: Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler — 12.15

Credits ©Laurence Kubski

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