Unfolded by Commission
Opinion by Richard Baird
Unfolded is a design and print festival that celebrates the creative work happening across Europe in the disciplines of design, printing and brand communication. This was held by and at The Gmund Paper Factory in Germany on the 9th November 2018. The event created a space for sharing ideas and fostering dialogue between creative individuals, providers of printing services, brand managers and experts from the business and agency scene. Unfolded also hosted lectures, keynote speakers and panels around brand strategy, materiality and sustainability. An exhibition, running in parallel to these events, showcased the latest developments within the industry.
The innovative dimension of the event, its desire to develop industry discourse, and the potential of design, material and print to synergise, is expressed in the delivery, presentation and form of the Unfolded invitation, created by London-based design studio Commission. This is initially marked by the impact of colour and type, volume and robustness, form and mechanism yet, and in contrast, is followed by the framing of a delicately micro-perforated and block foiled invitation.
The highlight of this project is in the dialogue formed between outside and in, in the robustness, character and visual immediacy of exterior packaging, and the nuance and elegance of the invitation within. In these two abstracts, a potential arises, well-aligned with the intentions of the festival to showcase innovation and create a dialogue between design, print and manufacturing.
The unmitigable variables of third-party transit imposes itself on packaging. The potential for damage; from small scratches to impact fractures, has maintained a utilitarian and economic mindset amongst clients and designers. However, the understanding and recognition of these variables within the mind of a recipient offsets this to some degree, that indeed, packaging can get damaged, yet it can still maintain something of a distinct gesture. That there remains space in which to deliver something of an immediacy and surprise by way of the ubiquity of corrugated board, not just in its surface treatment, but in its form and integrity of its design and construction, disassembly or the mechanisms of opening. Also check out Socio Design’s work for A.N Other. In this way, the Unfolded mailer becomes as a hypothetical surface in which to express a multitudinous potential, that these collective techniques contribute and can bring a richness, joy and recognition to a brand beyond the screen printing of a single colour logo. This makes even more sense when understood within the context of the mailer’s content.
The full coverage of a fluorescent pink paper with surface texture (full coverage is itself a gesture of new opportunity), the relief of thermographic ink, condensed typeface of black across the edges of the mailer, the mechanism of opening and the unfolding of box—a neat nod to name—are well-weighted in relationship to one another. That each is distinct (by way of space, colour, technique, time, or role within a sequence) but also collectively communicative and conceptually resolved. There is the visual immediacy, a material texture, and interaction that feels intellegently incremental and complete without appearing excessive.
The invite inside neatly serves multiple intentions. Firstly, the capacity of good structural design to maintain the integrity of what it holds. Secondly, the light paper, its fine texture, single fold—its prominence elevated by its raised presentation—and micro-perforations play with the material language of the delicate, the high value and the crafted. And finally, the bright white, set against the painted corrugated board and alongside the vivid neon pink form another abstract between modernity and immediate character and a more classical and restrained gesture. Both mailer and invitations are beautifully crafted—the light-play created by the micro-perforations is really lovely—yet gain far more in their dialogue with one another and within the context of an event that explores; through display and conversation, the potential of print. More work by Commission Studio on BP&O.
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