“Design requires positioning. You need to know where you stand, to know from where you are speaking.”
Since launching LOKI in 2014, we’ve been dedicated to working with organizations and individuals who share our values of collaboration and community building, with an anti-authoritarian, anti-oppressive bent, and an appreciation for thoughtful, and dare we say beautiful, design. Doing this in a sustainable way in a climate of austerity is a challenging task, yet it has led to many meaningful projects for us, with an expanding roster of inspiring clients and collaborators.
The spring has been a particularly busy one, with projects launched for WIOT Magazine, Metonymy Press, Friends of Public Service, Solidarity Across Borders, and Articule, with many others still to be unveiled. However, this has left us little time to address some questions we raised in the winter, to critically self-reflect on the studio’s own positioning, mandate and practice in a concerted way.
Sandy Kaltenborn, of the Berlin-based activist design studio Image-Shift, has been a long time inspiration for us, as a mentor (at the Declarations conference way back in 2001), a colleague (through Memefest), and as a friend. In the work that he does, and the way it is presented, we see an inspiring, yet practical model of a socially engaged design studio.
Image-Shift's non-manifesto sketches out 13 points that share his views on (graphic) design and visual communication practice. It clearly and concisely sets the parameters for his work (including and beyond "actual" design) and resonates deeply with how we'd like LOKI to operate and communicate.
9. it is a privilege to speak, to design in a society where most are not even asked about their opinion. this leads to "response-ability" not to abuse this specific power designers have. we believe that (visual) culture and its different forms are a matter of solidarity and critique. we honour this matter.
So we've decided to slow down our production schedule over the summer, to take back some time to do this kind of necessary thinking. With the help of our summer intern Julie King, we plan to be asking and thinking through plenty of questions. What do we mean by cultural production? How do we negotiate the line between our commercial work and our activism? What do we mean by activism? Do we even like the word activism??? What types of future collaborations are we seeking, and why? How do we define and present and extend our output? Why the emphasis on typography? Do we even like colour? What are frogs? etc.
As we slowly move towards our third year of existence, we hope to share many of these thoughts here, and we would like to invite you, as clients, collaborators, designers, activists, friends, etc. to participate in this thinking with us. We're excited that we've made it this far, and we feel this process is an important next step in order to better understand ourselves and the communities we serve.
NB: The studio will be closed between June 27 – July 10, as we head to the West Coast for some much needed time off. We'll be back on July 11th!