This month the selected piece is a collection of poetry books that were incorporated into the exhibition from the Badajoz itinerant exhibition at the MEIAC. The collection of Editora Regional Extremadura has been redesigned by Manuel Ponce, from Estudio Ponce Contreras, who has also worked with different arts centres and other publishers.
Tell us about your working process, how do you start designing a book of poetry?
Before undertaking any design, you must take some time to analyse the nature of the work, to think about what the keys to the project are and what suits the design. It is, we could say, the most intellectual and artistic part of the process. From there, from that starting point, I begin working on different sketches, trying out typographies, colours and different compositions until I find something that “works”, that I feel comfortable with and that expresses my likings. Then the negotiation with the client and the job of polishing the details come to the fore.
Specifically with poetry, especially the layout of the interior –without sounding too pretentious– is very complicated because each poet establishes certain codes and typographic compositions that mean you have to make them coexist with your design guidelines.
You have used a series of plots or graphics to design the covers, what do they mean? What inspired you?
It all started with the creation of a graphic system based on Adinkra symbols that I got to know thanks to the book entitled Imagomundi [LSDspace, Sonia Díaz and Gabriel Martínez, Promopress, Barcelona, 2010] and from which I took the first signs. For me, this book was very important. We had just graduated and it meant a total understanding of pictogram systems, but also of typography. Then it evolved into other elements of the typographic world –almost decorative – that had the peculiarity of visually being a square “blob”. Later, it was a slightly more interventionist process and I created some from scratch. The research I was doing –historical or current– was very useful for the development of the commission for each of the covers.
Of the different graphic design disciplines you develop, which is your favourite and why?
I don’t think I can hide it, I’m passionate about two things: editorial design and art, and when you put them together in a commission I feel like the luckiest man in the world. For me, the publishing world, and specifically the one that supports cultural projects, has a series of processes involving teams with professional technical roles from which you learn every day. I love the work that preprinters or proofreaders/editors do –to give an example– on the book itself.
You can’t always choose, but… what would you like to design?
In fact, I used to have a certain obsession about trying to do something with wine, but I think that –for whatever reason– it wasn’t for me, because the commission never came and a long time ago, I gave up trying any more. Right now, I would really like to design a special monograph for architecture.
From Spain with Design is also a tool for the projection of Spanish design. What state are we in and what needs further training?
Well, frankly I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s a question of us having communicated it badly, because we’re young, because we don’t feel like it… The fact is that, for example, Spanish haute cuisine –which may be the same age or perhaps less than Spanish design– does have its share of international projection and recognition. I don’t know, this is an eternal debate for which we are also to blame –to a large or small extent– for the way in which we understand the profession, how we associate with each other, how we teach future designers, how we respect each other, how we relate to each other in our communities. Imagine what it is like to design from Extremadura, on the one hand with our historical evidence of absolute oblivion, which for a myriad of circumstances are not relevant, but also because we are relatively few kilometres away from Portugal, where we see that we are overtaken on the right in this sense –not only Extremadura, obviously, but almost all of Spain– and without much permeability with them.
What has been your experience within the exhibition?
Very positive and very comforting, not for me, but for seeing design in a contemporary art museum like the MEIAC, where I also almost started out as a designer, designing some exhibitions and catalogues. That’s why, for me, this exhibition has a militant and also sentimental character.
What would you highlight from the exhibition? What is your favourite piece?
I have been very surprised by the quality, especially –it goes without saying– of the production of all the industrial design pieces. For some years now, I have been unable to suppress my interest, sometimes even ahead of aesthetic quality, materiality and “perfection” in finishes and resources.