I work at Index, a graphic design studio and publishing imprint, together with Jonty Valentine. We started working together in later 2011 as an experiment and in February this year we moved our studio to a dedicated warehouse space in Henderson. Over the last three years we’ve built up a small group of clients for whom we do regular work, most of whom are art-based and are public institutions (we’ve done Artspace’s design for about two years now).
Being a small and independent studio, we can be selective about the work we take on; and we enjoy being involved in thoughtful or subversive projects. Broadly, our studio has an exploratory, observational, or documentary approach. We like to see it as a way to cultivate our understanding of (and emphasis on) the material qualities of production.
We have an RP 3700 risograph stencil printer, which allows us to publish and closely control (or play with) print production. We call this part of the business the Index Print Research Unit, or Index Press for short. Risograph printing has become popular in the last few years, but we choose to use it for its unique colours, for its immediacy, and for how it changes our design-print process. Some recent projects we’ve used it for are a new series of publications for Artspace NZ: Critical Texts; their publication Hermes’ lack of words; ST PAUL St’s 2014 Curatorial Symposium; and THE FLORAL SHOW 3-colour risograph prints of blooms (our first time doing proper colour separations, which we really enjoyed) for SFA (Monique Redmond & Tanya Eccleston) at Fresh Gallery Otara.
In August we launched two new books; The Lab and Mark Cleverley: Designer. Both are substantial publications that documented projects where our involvement was more collaborative and authorial than the standard designer/client relationship. The Lab documents our project at The 5th Auckland Triennial, where we operated in the Auckland Art Gallery as designers-on-demand: implementing the Triennial Lab signage system, printing event sheets, and manually updating the wall panels (almost daily). I photographed all activity in the space, as well as our time there. We considered The Lab an ongoing design performance; we moved our printer into the gallery and were challenged by the role of ‘serving’ the gallery, the five projects, and relating to the public. Some of the printed outcomes of this experience are reproduced in the publication as fragments of our documentary role.2 Mark Cleverley: Designer, written, edited and designed by Jonty, was launched at Objectspace at the August 2014 opening of the exhibition ‘Mark Cleverley: Objectspace Master of Craft’. Jonty also curated this exhibition. The book features a visual catalogue of Cleverley’s designs for the New Zealand Post Office, Crown Lynn ceramics, textiles, and stationery. Jonty’s interview with Mark discusses working as a designer in New Zealand.