PARALLEL PRACTICE — Interview
The Prague-based design studio Parallel Practice was founded by Michal Landa and Jan Brož.
Hello Jan and Michal how are you?
Hello Dennis and Tiffany, just trying to catch up with time as usual.
Can you introduce yourselves?
We are 26 (M) and 28 (J), both based in Prague. We have started Parallel Practice in October 2013. At the time Jan finished his art studies and started PhD research at UMPRUM (Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design) and Michal came back from his annual trip to Asia. Back then, we didn’t know each other well, but we got lucky to be invited to a studio residency with supportive friends. We didn’t have to be freaked about money and just spent massive amounts of time learning and getting know each other through every project. The idea behind the studio is to deal with selected projects from the cultural field and to be able to fulfill commercial assignments. While Jan had the knowledge about contemporary art, Michal already had wide ranging experience in advertising.
Can you explain to us one of your projects?
The first and most important project of Parallel Practice was the creation of a new visual identity of the Futura Center for Contemporary Art in Prague. This identity is formed organically – with each new exhibition we define a new letter reflecting the intentions of the exhibition or any possible connections. A letter torn from the title of an exhibition bears no relationship to its content. In essence, it isn’t simply a fragmentary, but also an arbitrary symbol. The empty symbol (letter) serves merely as the vehicle of its own representation, which is the only thing that communicates some kind of content within the identity. From the very start, therefore, identity operates in relation to divergence, deviating from what it should illustrate. It thus maximizes the two basic mechanisms of an exhibition’s invitation – to arouse curiosity and communicate content – by virtue of its temporal separation. Paradoxically, it then encapsulates the genuine content of an exhibition far more effectively, establishing it not in relation to identity, but to difference. The illustration as metaphor or metonymy would always remain a banal simplification, an act of violence perpetrated upon the accuracy of the original, a simple sign. The visuals by Parallel Practice are more of an allegory, a poetic image, an artwork in its own right that acquires meaning only in relation to that which is manifestly excluded from it.
A designer that you admire?
Actually, the scene that surrounds us feels vibrant and authentic. We work in a studio space (called familiarly Stracciatella) with a bunch of inspiring people – we often eat, party and collaborate – for instance Richard Wilde and Jaromir Skacel (Mütanta Studio) provided us some fundamental input over the years. We have spent spring and summer intensively redesigning the business weekly Euro with them. We also love to discuss stuff with other studio mates, like Martin Groch (who helped us with three of Futura’s posters and a current book project) and typographer Jakub Samek. By the way, Jakub just finished his Rhymes, a radical and complex revision of Times New Roman. Out of the studio, we would collaborate frequently with Jan Horcik and Filip Matejicek (Heavyweight Typefoundry) and we highly recommend their recent release Pano (Panoramatic Grotesk) and to explore their lettering morphologies. We also keep in close touch with Robert Jansa and Petr Bosak (formerly known as Advancedesign) who made some groundbreaking works that changed our perspectives on design already during high school (i.e. Sperm Festival Identity, 2008), and continue to do so (i.e. Proto book, 2014). The list goes on, but it seems necessary to mention the Brno Biennale and its curators (2012–16) as their vision had a huge impact on the local community.
Pictures & projects by Parallel Practice.
Interview: Dennis Moya and Tiffany Bähler, 10.16