Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 5 December 2014
FIAC is an annual contemporary arts fair where galleries from across the world gather and present work by the emerging artists they represent. The fair takes place at the Grand Palais in Paris and runs for four days during October. Paper merchant Arjowiggins, a longstanding partner, continued to support the event by providing material for FIAC’s catalogue and event guides. This year, these featured a distinctive bookmark created by Moscow-based graphic design studio The Bakery and printed by Generation Press, as a way to further showcase the merchant’s Curious Matter range.
The Bakery describe their treatment as an exploration of the basic function of a bookmark, its ability to highlight the tactile qualities of paper and as a celebration of the simple joys of something analog in a world obsessed with digital. It is also said to be a reflection of its geographical context; having been designed in Russia and printed in the UK for a French company, but appears primarily as a testament to the high quality and flexibility of Arjowiggins’ paper stocks.
At its most fundamental level, it is a beautifully crafted piece, both in its digital design and in its print production, and yet, while just one small asset, it is surprising to see it informed by such a strong, well-thought-out and clear concept.
As The Bakery explain, the surface of Arjowiggins’ Curious Matter paper, which is made from recycled potato skin, resembles stone. Alongside a striking and diverse colour palette caught within organic forms, hot foiled across one side and leaving the reverse untreated, the material, finish and process appear as a simple metaphor for turning ore into something valuable, a comparison that is also made with modern design practice.
This contrast, much like polished minerals set within with a rough and heavy rock exterior, are enhanced by a rough die cut detail and a variety of robust paper weights. It makes for compelling aesthetic based on an accessible and well founded idea, delivers a high-level of contrast between bookmark and the publication it sits within, and most importantly, it surprises.
It would be difficult to argue that any flat piece of paper or board would work well as a bookmark, however, this basic utility is complemented by further communicative intention, showcasing the creative opportunities Arjowiggins can facilitate and the way their papers handle print finish. Where the FIAC guide book or catalogue is required to draw out the detail of the exhibitors and exhibitions, a bookmark, and its resolution of aesthetic and utilitarian requirements intelligently balances beauty and reason.