The Brand Identity

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The Interviews: Volume One documents our first 57 interviews with design studios; including the original conversations from 2015-2018 and reflections on how they’ve evolved. The book marks our first external collaboration; with the dream team of Harry Bennett and Alice Sherwin from Studio Ground Floor taking the reins. Now it’s out in the wild and available, we checked back in with them to find out about the thinking behind their design.

The Brand Identity: Hey guys! How’s it going?

Studio Ground Floor: Hey Elliott! It’s all going good our end, still very much trying to figure out that ol’ work/life balance thing but who isn’t! Lots of things in the air, and lots more coming up – but all exciting stuff! 

TBI: Why did you decide to start a studio together and call it Studio Ground Floor?

SGF: We went to university together, and ever since then we’ve worked on projects with one another and have always found it so effortless. We very much get each other, and we feel very comfortable (perhaps too much so!) just saying what we think to each other. If one of us feels something doesn’t work, we don’t have a problem in saying it’s a bit shit. That kind of working relationship is pretty hard to find, we think, so once we’d been collaborating for a while, we thought it was time to formalise it – it sort of happened very naturally and a bit by accident to be honest! Best accident ever. 

The name actually took quite a while. Nothing ever really clicked with the two of us before Studio Ground Floor. At one point we were thinking about morse code and beeps and stuff, or All Good after the street by our local Co-op – very glad we didn’t agree on those!

Studio Ground Floor resonated with us because it has this notion of being on one level – we’re not looking up or down at anyone or anything – and also of course that it suggests starting from the ground up. Research and initial conversations at the beginning of projects are always so important to our process, so it very much felt right that the name would reference the idea of a grounded starting point.

“We want people to be reading this long into the future.”

TBI: So, The Interviews: Volume One – how do you feel about the end result? We couldn’t be happier!

SGF: Thank you! We’re buzzing about it! It was a dream project for us – editorial design is at the core of our practice, and it’s even more exciting when you get to design something that not only lives within a design world you love, but also includes so many different studios that we have followed forever. Of course, it does help that the client was a dream too! 

TBI: Why thank you 🙂 What would you say your original inspirations and references were for the design?

SGF: We sought to achieve an archival feel to the volume, creating something that was both timeless in order to preserve the relevance of the interviews, and contemporary, with the aim to celebrate design in retrospection. This archival line of enquiry led us down a path of visually rich historical references, harking back to those ‘History of the World: Volume Twelve’ books you’d find in a library or your grandad’s loft, with their beautiful typographic details, as well as thinking about the idea of preservation. The latter was encapsulated by the PVC cover which both references this, and also increases the lifespan of the book. After all, we want people to be reading this long into the future, and the beauty of the content and how it’s been framed means it will always be relevant.

“All of these details are physically small, but are mighty in their meaning.”

TBI: How challenging was it to find a layout system that worked for all the interviews?

SGF: The whole process was super iterative. Starting with a format for the most ‘straightforward’ of the interviews, the system expands and adapts to signify any changes to the studio since their original interview. For example, studios that have changed their name or ceased to exist are crossed through throughout the text, whilst new interviews have their type styles and page colour inverted. We also asked each interviewee to reflect on the interview they gave. This is applied upside down throughout the book in order to encourage the readers to physically engage with it, as well as to conceptually reference the notion of reflection. All of these details are physically small, but are mighty in their meaning, leading to a final system that (we think) is super nuanced and exciting, without interfering with the lovely interviews and thoughts within the book.

TBI: What’s your favourite part of the book?

SGF: Hopefully this is a good thing, but it changes each time we open it. We didn’t realise how much we’d love certain bits until they were printed. Our favourite part currently is actually a pretty understated part of the book, but we really like its exiting pages that mirror the introductory pages. They’re flipped on their head and struck through, basically referencing the book’s concept of a conversation between the past and present. But of course, we never have favourites…

“It was so important that the typefaces could hold their own.”

TBI: For the typography, why did you choose Dinamo’s ABC Gaisyr and ABC Whyte Inktrap?

SGF: The lovely Fabian from Dinamo actually shared ABC Gaisyr with us beforehand, and we immediately thought it was so appropriate to both the archival theme of the book and the thematic mash-up of historical and contemporary design. It has this remarkable mixture of classic, monospaced, seriffed sturdiness, whilst in no way feeling like a pastiche, in fact, quite the opposite. As the book’s design is typographically-led, it was so important that the typefaces could hold their own, and from the second we started using ABC Gaisyr we knew it was the one. 

We were toying with a typeface for the body copy for a while, but in the end, we thought it was best to not overthink it too much. We wanted the typeface to reference analogue typography and read beautifully as well. ABC Whyte Inktrap does exactly that, with ink traps being ingrained in historical printing processes and, as a result, printing and reading perfectly.

Thank you Dinamo and Michelangelo Nigra, you’re the best!

“Maybe they’ll see the light of day in future TBI releases!”

TBI: How do you feel looking back at the other two routes from your original proposal?

SGF: We still like them a lot! Maybe they’ll see the light of day in future TBI releases!

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