Vrints-Kolsteren work in the fields of graphic design, creative direction and photography for clients including Antwerp Art Weekend and the Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. The studio is led by the duo of Vincent Vrints and Naomi Kolsteren.
In order to publish their own projects independently, they have set up Vrints-Kolsteren Editions. The platform will launch publications autonomously and will include collaborations with artists.
The Brand Identity: Why did you decide to set up Editions?
Vrints-Kolsteren: We recently started to make a few independent projects that were not related to clients. Like the Chair publication that we designed for Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx and the Red t-shirt that we created together with Frédéric Jaman. The ‘Chair’ publication was created around a chair that Benny designed, which we loved. That’s why we made the decision to create a publication for it. We really love to collaborate with people that inspire us. Benny gave us total freedom. There were no limitations regarding the design, he just gave us a lot of content which we could use freely. We received hand-drawn sketches, 3D renders, photographs… this was the perfect opportunity to make our own rules. There was still a lot of communication between us but it was a very intuitive way of working. This really gave us the feeling of true collaboration.
“This was the perfect opportunity to make our own rules.”
VK: Because of projects like this, we wanted to start with something autonomous. So we came up with ‘Vrints-Kolsteren Editions’, a platform where we could launch new projects independently. Instead of releasing these works through a publisher, we decided that we wanted full control over the design and the end product and so we wanted to publish these works ourselves.
The process of these independent projects is much more direct. During every step, we can see results and have full control over every detail, without just handing in a digital project to a client and receiving the print after a few weeks. It is much more satisfying to be personally involved during every step of the process from start to finish.
Vrints-Kolsteren Editions is basically a playground where we can freely do our own thing, and at the same time initiate new research projects. For example, with our Kado project, we experimented with many printing techniques. We wanted the typography on the cover to have the same tactile quality as a flower petal.
We experimented with adding ingredients to the ink of the silkscreen to make it thicker so the print would have more structure and have a softness to it.
“Vrints-Kolsteren Editions is basically a playground where we can freely do our own thing.”
TBI: What is Kado?
VK: The word ‘Kado’ is a synonym for Ikebana, which is the Japanese art form of arranging flowers. Kado can also be translated as ’the way of the flowers’. In contrast to the art of arranging flowers in the western world, where the quality of the flowers is most important, the Japanese art of arranging flowers is aimed at creating a beautiful composition. Attention is paid to the lines, rhythm and colour and mostly to the space around the composition. With Kado, people bring the environment in, in relation to the outside, nature.
For us, Japan, in general, is a big inspiration and we’ve wanted to do a project with these flower arrangements for such a long time now. We didn’t want to copy the art of Ikebana, because it’s not something we could ever realise but we wanted to use their approach and make it into something new.
“The word ‘Kado’ is a synonym for Ikebana, which is the Japanese art form of arranging flowers.”
TBI: Can you talk us through the construction of the publication?
VK: You could see the book as a collaboration in a kind of way. Instead of working together with an artist, you could see this project as a collaboration with the audience. They make their own flower arrangements, but they will always make their own Ikebana’s with our personal set of editorial rules.
The first thing we had to do was make a selection of flowers and photograph them. This was a big challenge because we had to keep in mind that all the flower stems could fit at the end. We decided to work with a spiral binding, which gave us a lot of freedom to play with the order of the book and the materials that we used. We were not restricted to work just on spreads, we had to think of a way that every page could fit and work perfectly with all other pages in the book. As big fans of print work we really wanted this project to be as tactile as possible. We wanted to emphasise the benefits that print has over the digital.
We also wanted to translate the tactile aspect flowers in the book. Flowers have their own colour, feeling, build and character and we really wanted this to be reflected in the Kado project by experimenting with different kinds of paper textures, colours and prints. From silkscreen to riso print to digital print.
During the making of Kado, we were asked to make a playlist for our personal mixtape. So we decided to build a playlist around the lifespan of a flower. Starting with a song called ‘The Seed’ and ending the playlist with a song called ‘Dead Flowers’. You can check this project out on march2004.com/mixes.
“As big fans of print work we really wanted this project to be as tactile as possible.”
TBI: What inspired the fluid letterforms seen throughout the publication?
VK: As typography is a very important aspect of our practice, we wanted to create a bespoke typeface for the Kado project. We made a typeface inspired by organic shapes but still used in a systematic grid. Inspired by the idea of ‘Kado’, that focuses on composition and the space around the object, this is how we wanted to approach the Kado typeface as well. The whitespace around the letterforms is as important because they create new circles as well. This is how we look at typography in general, using the space surrounding it.
For us, it’s important to give something unique and bespoke, which we achieved by creating these custom typefaces. Kado essentially is a full translation of what we do in our practice: a combination of concept, photography, typography and editorial design.
TBI: Thanks guys, looking forward to seeing future publications.