2011 NVA Winner: Zak Kyes

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By the Print staff

Title/Type of Work: Graphic DesignerFrom: CaliforniaLives in: LondonAge: 29Education: BFA, Graphic Design, California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, CA Art History (incomplete), Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY

Z.A.K., the design practice of Swiss-American graphic designer, editor, and curator Zak Kyes, focuses on publication, identity, exhibition design, and art direction for art, architecture, and institutional clients. “I realized early on that my practice required independence and that I would be better suited to work with—rather than for—others,” says Kyes.

“As a side effect, I have developed many longstanding collaborations.” Quite advantageous for someone who works across so many disciplines. Founded in London in 2005, Z.A.K. currently consists of Kyes and Marcos Villalba, and Kyes explains that his studio’s approach is defined by its “active collaborations in ever-changing constellations. The studio plays a key role in complex projects that integrate graphic design, publishing, research, strategy and architecture.”

Z.A.K., Private National Currency of Dubai Düsseldorf, three-color offset print, unlimited edition, 2009.

In addition to undertaking commissioned work, the studio initiates and produces editorial and curatorial projects that encompass publishing (In fact, Kyes co-founded Bedford Press, an imprint of AA Publications, in 2008.) Their “work engages with publications and their dissemination as sites for debate and exchange rather than documentation.” Kyes says he admires the historical work of “publications initiated by students at the Architectural Association starting in 1905 with Tufton Street Tatler and continuing until present day.

These activities took the form of news-sheets, newspapers, magazines, journals, pamphlets, and manifestos all of which considered publications as an architectural ‘site.’” For daily reading, Kyes says he reviews The New Yorker, and the websites for the Guardian and the International Herald Tribune. The studio has been awarded the Inform Award for Conceptual Design in 2011 and was twice awarded the prize for the Most Beautiful Swiss Books in 2010. The studio’s work has also been included in a number of exhibitions across the globe. As for whom he wishes to work with in the future, Kyes says, “Usually collaborations are not the result of a wish, but a temptation.”

I realized early on that my practice required independence and that I would be better suited to work with—rather than for—others.

Z.A.K., Dubai Düsseldorf, installation view Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen.

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