Photo: Sebastian Schroder
Zak Kyes is the recipient of the 2010 INFORM Award, the annual accolade presented to graphic designers who develop a practice within the context of applied and contemporary art. Previous recipients include Laurent Benner (2007), Julia Born (2008) and Rebecca Stephany (2009).
The award was marked by this one-person exhibition Zak Kyes Working With … – originating at the Museum for Contemporary Art Leipzig and travelling to the AA and the Graham Foundation, Chicago (14 June–22 September 2012). Curated in collaboration with Barbara Steiner, the exhibition brought together a range of works by Kyes, as well as new ones by a host of collaborators including architects, artists, writers, curators, editors and graphic designers, presenting contemporary graphic design as a practice that mediates, and is mediated by, its allied disciplines.
A Swiss-American who lives and works in London, Kyes has developed a graphic design practice that includes publishing, editing and site-specific projects for and in collaboration with cultural institutions. In 2005 he founded the design studio Zak Group and in 2006 became Art Director of the AA. Under the auspices of the AA, he organised the touring exhibition Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design, and later co-founded Bedford Press, an imprint that seeks to develop new models for contemporary publishing. By broadening the highly specialised role of the designer, Kyes challenges and further develops today's graphic design practice.
Each invited contributor is assigned a role that addresses the different formats of an exhibition. Architect Jesko Fezer was invited to propose the exhibition architecture, while typographer Radim Pesko designed a typeface for the show's object labels and wall texts. Artist Jospeh Grigely will create the exhibition poster, and writers Shumon Basar and Charles Arsne-Henry conceived the audio guide. Artist Can Altay conducted a publishing workshop, and archivist and librarian Edward Bottoms offered a historical lecture on architectural publishing. Architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller devised an archive structure, and graphic designer Wayne Daly designed an expanded exhibition catalogue published by Sternberg Press which included contributions by Richard Birkett, Andrew Blauvelt, Edward Bottoms, Maria Lind, Markus Miessen and Barbara Steiner, among others.
Organised by The Museum for Contemporary Art Leipzig in collaboration of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, and the AA. This project was also supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.