Maki Suzuki Åbäke London United Kingdom – I Used to Be a Design Student

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

Maki Suzuki (Åbäke)

PROFESSIONAL YEARS

11

A VALUABLE QUALITY FOR A DESIGN STUDENT + A DESIGN PROFESSIONAL

For both: Try everything

FAVOURITE FOOD NOW

Fish, still

YOUR MOST VALUED POSSESSION NOW

A copy of Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman

YEAR OF PROJECT

2010

PROFESSIONAL PROJECT BRIEF

Design a short text by artist Eline McGeorge

CLIENT

Hollybush Gardens (gallery)

COLLABORATOR(S)

Åbäke members

TECHNOLOGY

Offset printing, staple-binding

TIME SPENT

3 weeks from idea to production

TYPEFACE

Chicago, New York and Arial

WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS PROJECT?

The text was a meta-fiction of a person who could possibly try to contact someone in a democratic country. To design it, we felt it needed to bring out the world in which it would have been written, namely a fictitious totalitarian regime. This led us to design a whole ‘computer manual’ around the text to camouflage it from ‘the thought police’. There is an overall fascination for vernacular design, but it usually is in the safe area of the just-vintage. For this publication, we used the most contemporary manuals as models, resulting in a rather revolting result in terms of our own tastes.

WHAT DO YOU DISLIKE ABOUT IT?

Too late. Definitely the ugliest thing.

OUTCOMES

A client, a commissioner or a collaborator is not someone to please or ‘service’.

FEEDBACK

Eline McGeorge on her return from an exhibition in Oslo, where the booklets were stacked as a sculpture people could take parts from: ‘Nobody took one; they thought it was a computer manual’.

DO YOU TEACH?

Tutor at the Royal College of Art, London (UK) from 2004 to 2010.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO TEACH DESIGN?

Yes, education is part of our practice. We have never given the same brief twice, which makes it difficult to test the validity of a method, but we believe in experimentation as a principle of education, which implies lots of errors lived together with students. We have never taught at BA level regularly, so it is difficult to say.