Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 21 December 2018
This year, there has been a wealth of studios, both established and emerging, producing intelligent and visually and materially compelling work. New to BP&O in 2018 was Studio Najbrt from the Czech Republic and Studio Mut in Italy.
This post, the penultimate—also check out Packaging of 2018, Graphic Identities of 2018 and Books and Magazines of 2018—is made up of studios that had four or more features on the site over the last year. Small single studios sat alongside those that are larger and have multiple offices. These all share a conceptual, graphic and material interest as well as a commitment to documenting and sharing projects.
Five studios stood out for the range and extent of their work, and their balance of concept, clear communicative intention and compelling aesthetic and material expressions, and have made it into BP&O’s Best of Series. These are some of BP&O’s favourites, listed in no particular order.
Pentagram, United Kingdom & United States
Pentagram’s Highlights of 2018:
Pentagram has locations throughout Europe and the USA, however, it was their London and New York offices that made it onto BP&O in 2018, and included work by partners, and the teams of Jody Hudson Powell, Luke Powell, Paula Scher and Natasha Jen. Pentagram has a rich history and enduring legacy, and although criticism is often made of the studio, typically said to be trading on its name, in BP&O’s opinion it continues to produce some thoughtful work, with graphic identity, packaging, campaign and book design projects making it onto BP&O.
Bedow’s Highlights of 2018:
Bedow is a Scandinavian boutique design studio with an office in the Swedish city of Stockholm, a decade of experience and a roster of international clients. Their work is characterised by a progressive attitude that moves beyond what might be considered a Scandinavian style, and instead, works together moments of hand-drawn details design craft and increasingly an artfulness with a good eye for space and simplicity. This is the third year for Bedow in BP&O’s studios list with a particular highlight being their sculptures made from flotsam for the album Strandgut by Vasas Flora Och Fauna.
Commission, United Kingdom
Commissions’s Highlights of 2018:
London-based studio Commission is run by David Mcfarlane and Christopher Moorby, and has a philosophy that revolves around the idea that good design stands at the crossroads of function and beauty, and engages, compels, and makes perfect sense. Their work featured on BP&O is a neat mix of conceptual intrigue, an interesting intersection of association, material craft, graphic simplicity mechanism and sequence. This can seen in their work for Espelma, in the intersection of an immediate visual gesture and surprising silicone material finish and the story-book structure and opening of packaging.
Spy, United Kingdom
Spy’s Highlights of 2018:
Spy is a London based multi-disciplinary graphic design studio with a portfolio of bright and distinctive work across a variety of sectors. It is their education and cultural work that found its way onto BP&O in 2018. Highlights have included their continued work with Goldsmiths, developing their Alumni magazine Goldlink which channels the spirit and legacy of the area in which the university is set, and the cheerful riso-printed graphic identity for Hackney Forest School.
Studio fnt, South Korea
Studio fnt’s Highlights of 2018:
A new entry this year, but a studio that has regualury featured on BP&O since its beginnings in 2011. The work of South Korean Studio fnt is often marked by its conceptual clarity and strong visual immediacy in the use of form and colour. Their portfolio is marked by its diversity that inlcludes work with small independant coffee roaster Felt and large culutral institutuions such as the Korean International Art Fair.