ori.studio is a graphic design practice which started in 2016, beginning in Shanghai and moving to Beijing in 2018. As a pair (Maxim Cormier and Xuechen Fan) together we’ve been exploring the possibilities in scale, materiality, and form innate within graphics, the relationship between graphics and language, and the subtle resonance and sensibility that occur when people interact with them.
The idea was to both create an outlet that would generate projects which have an experimental nature, as a way of pushing our thinking and methods in new directions, as well as a way of exploring the differences in peoples understandings of things both visually as well as linguistically. Starting da大 was not something which we formally planned out from the start, but instead something which just sort of organically grew along side our practice.
Our first publication with the project, reuse eventually, was an attempt to explore alternate interpretations of urban context visually. Our primary focus now is to collect different perspectives via written discourse.
c-SITE#1 centres around an interdisciplinary discussion on the topic of “New”. 10 contributors from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds were invited to participate, and we developed a format which would place us as editors outside of the dialogue almost completely. We chose to do this as we hoped it would help in generating a more natural and open form of discourse. As mentioned, the format was made to be autonomous, where participant (a) asked a question to participant (b), who after answering would then ask a question to the next person down the list (c).
The contributors themselves as mentioned are quite diverse in terms of background, and include photographer Daniel Everett, artist Uso Fujishiro, and graphic designer Yui Takada to name a few. We selected contributors based on their relationship to the topic itself, which was quite challenging and took about a month in total to have a finalized list. This relationship to “new” could be in terms of how they create, or think about their field, or how they look at things in general. To give a concrete example, photographer Soushi Tanaka in his ongoing project titled “Post”, captures images of newspapers on daily basis, which seem to be almost identical to each other, but in the act of repetition tiny differences are exposed and we receive a strong sense of newness from them.
About a year ago we had the idea to develop an interdisciplinary publication which collected views on a single topic. The name da, based off of the pronunciation of the Chinese character 大, which can mean big, wide, and broad, perhaps is a good metaphor for the thinking behind c-SITE. We wanted to exit the shelter of our particular field of practice and expose ourselves to new ideas and ways of thinking from outside. We also thought an experiment which mixed all of these different perspectives together was exciting and had a lot of potential in opening up a type of discourse which does not happen often enough.
Our concept was to have the design be primarily informed by the content and format itself, and avoid overwhelming the conversation or the individual characteristics of each participant. The conversation is bilingual (Chinese and Japanese), and the typography was designed so that the two languages blend together to form cohesive patterns which run down the page. The questions are left aligned, and the answers right, so that the two face each other to further emphasize the discussion. We added a sense of depth to the layout via subtle elements like silver ink for the Japanese text and other small elements, as well as using thin paper from which images on the opposite side of the page become slightly visible. On the cover we designed a sprout, which we felt was a good symbolic representation of “new” specifically within the context of this particular conversation.
The form of the publication is modular in nature, and there are several reasons why we chose to do this. We felt there needed to be some sort of break between the conversation and the introductions and images which we needed to incorporate for each contributor. We wanted to avoid readers being interrupted by the constant cycle between conversation and introduction, and dividing things into separate modules allowed for us to separate them completely, and allows for readers to pick and choose what they look at and when. We also got the feeling as the conversation was taking place that there was enough depth within each exchange to warrant slowing the reading experience down a little in a subtle and nuanced way. The components are wrapped in a single sheet of paper, with the cover on side A, and a preface on side B. We initially had the idea to use a box for this purpose but in the end we felt what we did gave a much more flexible and open sense of materiality when you hold it in your hands, which fit well with the rest of the concept.