@studiocatherine Not in the slightest! Our printers just require a little extra time.
Collaborations/collectives: working together to achieve a common objective. A recursive process where two like-minded people work together to reach shared goals. Two heads are usually better than one.
Ömse is the new evolution of the dialogue between Australian and New Zealand designers James Kape, 23 and Briton Smith, 26. Their story started when the pair met and gained pace with their work at Sydney-based music festival promoter, Fuzzy and then began a new chapter when they launched their own collaboration in design. “Ömse means ‘both’ in Swedish,” explains Smith. “We found we had a lot in common when we met. We kind of reinterpreted it to mean ‘like-minded’. We thought that meaning was appropriate, plus, we liked the letterforms.”
It’s a tale of handcrafted design and technique, patience and problem-solving and the everyday. They touch on the themes of art history, philosophy and technology.
When you think of Ömse, you think of a hands-on, clever approach, and broad sensibility. The guys behind the name are as passionate as you would expect. In between their design roles with renowned agencies – Kape at New York-based multidisciplinary design network nr2154, and Smith at Interbrand in Sydney – they collaborate on valuable projects with mediums such as paper. “Paper is a great medium and it’s easy to work with. Our main reason for using paper or building models in general is because it gives you so much creative control. Computer generated work may allow you the same control, but it doesn’t have the warmth and depth of photography. It’s a great way to bring an idea to life,” they both agree. “While we are both currently working for studios in different countries, we try to keep collaborating as much as possible.”
The peripatetic existence of Ömse is subject to endless exploration in objects, books and nature.
“At this stage, projects usually come in through one or the other of us. Then we identify it as something we can do together as Ömse. What makes working together easy is we often have a similar idea as to where we should take it and any differences only help us refine the direction or develop the idea. Depending on the project, we take different aspects that best suit each other or, in some cases, work together,” says Kape.
A stand-out project the pair worked on collectively, in conjunction with Fuzzy, was this year’s Parklife music festival brand. Initially, they had to meet some forward-thinking criteria – to build on the brand Parklife had developed in the previous two years, to show the event is held in parklands and to capture the atmosphere of the event.
Their idea was based around building a miniature music festival and recreating some classic festival moments that people could identify with, and get them excited about the festival in summer. “We created a list of scenes with everything from crowd surfers to streakers and kangaroos. In order to create one main image in addition to the close-ups of these scenes, we decided that the miniature festival would be set on 3D letters that spelled out Parklife. Parklife’s previous two years’ artwork had used miniatures and the tagline ‘A World of its Own’, so it was a natural fit,” recalls the pair.
While I believe we are in the middle of a vigorously design-focused culture, what’s really interesting is the duo are combining traditional craft techniques with technological treatments. “We began by making plans around the timeline and resources needed to build the model. That involved finding sources for everything we needed – ordering a lot of model train figures from overseas, getting the basic form of the letters cut from polystyrene and hiring truss and photographic equipment, as well finding a space to work in. Basically, we tried to solve as many problems as we could beforehand and leave as little to chance as possible, but due to the nature of these types of projects, you can only plan so much and a lot changes as you go along,” says Smith.
Spending seven days building the model, they encountered a few problems. “We had a lot of trouble hanging the letters and getting them to sit straight. Eventually, we screwed a brace across the back of the letters, so we could get the alignment and kerning exact.”
The result is a concentrated visual brand and form, highlighting the very essence of Australian pop culture. And the future for Kape, Smith and Ömse?
“We are going to be collaborating on editorial design for the clothing store Somedays on the new issue of a magazine. We also have another project in the pipeline and we’re creating some self-initiated print work, but that’s still in its infancy,” says Smith.
From desktop magazine.
All images copyright Ömse. Parklife 2011 music festival identity.