Massachusetts-based designer Chad Kloepfer has previously worked at Walker Art Center and Artforum magazine, and has a talent for creating printed matter and pleasing book designs. We featured Chad back in January 2016 giving just a taster of his clean, fresh approach and since then he has picked up commissions from MoMA, Yale School of Architecture, MIT, Whitney Museum of American Art and many more.
Most recently Chad has been working with Google’s Material Design Group and was brought in to create readers for its annual design conference SPAN, which takes place in Tokyo and Los Angeles. SPAN No. 1 and SPAN No. 2 document the 2015 and 2016 conferences respectively and each publication draws upon the programming of the event and the topics that were covered. Executed in Chad’s simple yet communicative style, here the designer talks us through the project and explains what it’s been like to work with the Google team.
How did the project come about? What brief were you given?
I was contacted by Rob Giampietro, who was interested in creating a reader to accompany a conference, SPAN, that Google’s Material Design Group was putting together. The format of the book was borne out of the programming of the conference, and reflects the connection that Google Design is attempting to forge with local design communities in cities such as New York, London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. The book was also meant as a meaningful way for attendees to bring home the topics and conversations of each conference so they would live beyond that one day, which was an idea I was really drawn to.
My role in the project is immersive; it is almost like I am doing a residency at Google. I work closely with the team that is putting together each conference and designing each reader. This creates an interesting environment where I, a book designer, am working alongside digital designers and engineers and we are all talking and influencing the way we are thinking and working on different aspects of the conference.
What were your first thoughts about the project?
I was really intrigued by the proposal, especially the chance to work internally at Google. Coming from a background of working primarily as a freelance book designer in the arts and culture field I was interested in the opportunity to work with different kinds of content in a different environment. This has definitely been rewarding.
How have you kept SPAN No. 1 and SPAN No.2 distinct from each other?
SPAN No. 1 and 2 share the same trim size and overarching SPAN identity. But, just like the design of the conferences, we tried to let the different locations each year be the driving force for both editorial and visual direction. One of the main differences is that one of the locations for SPAN No. 2 was Tokyo.
It was really important to make this content available to all attendees, and in this case, that meant we would have to make this issue bilingual (Japanese/English). Otherwise, each reader is open to different papers, structures, and other graphic devices which allows them to each have a somewhat unique voice.
SPAN No. 1 was a series of French-folded pages that had very vivid colours printed on the interior of the folded pages. This adds a subtle tint to the pages on which the content is printed in black. SPAN No. 2 used a series of shapes, which we called “primitives”, that were interpreted as die-cuts on both interior pages and on the cover. We also made a sticker sheet of the shapes that could be used to personalise the cover of the book.
What’s been the most challenging part of the project?
Each book has had its production challenges, from the heat embossed plastic slipcase on SPAN No. 1 to the die-cut cover exposing the binding on SPAN No. 2. Bringing these unique material qualities to each reader has been a nice challenge, and it’s wonderful to work with people who support these ideas and will work with you to help them succeed.
What have you enjoyed about working on this brief?
One of the most enjoyable things has been to work with such a great team of people. It is certainly not me alone putting these together and the core team also deserves credit: Rob Giampietro, Amber Bravo, Bryn Smith, Damien Correll, Paul Schlacter, Corinne Onetto, and Hailey Peek. Everyone knows and does their job so well, which, in turn, allowed me space to do mine.
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