Jack Self (JS) is a London-based architect and writer. He is the director of the REAL Foundation and Editor-in-Chief of the Real Review, a magazine that explores, through a variety of topics and lenses, what it means to live today. The text below is an excerpt taken from a 10,000-word transcript of an hour-long conversion between Richard Baird (RB) and Jack Self. This covered architecture, graphic design, publishing and the review.
RB—I spoke to Jack Self about my desire to create an unexpected material object from the work I do for BP&O. That I did not know what form it would take, although the LogoArchive zine is now folded into that project. I would use words like performance or sculpture when speaking to people about it, to move the conversation beyond, say, an annual; a common suggestion (although it was always going to be material) as a way to draw people into a worldview. This is what Jack had to say about that and how Real Review creates new relationships with space and develops a dialogue between text and image, outside of their literal reading, by way of a vertical fold.
This is the first in a series of original articles that build on eight years of writing reviews. Where other publishers do well to bring us the zeitgeist and explore the pragmatics of graphic design BP&O will seek the abstract and meta. This first article experiments with two interwoven narratives; the delineation between the practice of collation and curation in design publishing and how the new metrics of the net impose themselves on today’s design work.
The language of graphic design can quickly become a demarcated space of constrained thought. Is it brand identity, visual identity or graphic identity? Each of these contains shifting nuances that positively shape or subvert understanding and can impose themselves on an outcome.
The word curation, for instance, is reconfigured and gains new meaning as it moves from art to design to popularist term. We are now encouraged to curate our lives, social groups and experiences, the brands and objects we buy into and our Pinterest and Facebook feeds. It could be argued the latter have cone to now curate us. The association, within the context of a pragmatic and goal-orientated notion of graphic design practice; an expression of purpose, becomes one of pretence, often denigrated and quickly dismissed.