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. The award consists of a prize of 5,000 euros as well as a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig
. INFORM is supported by Dr. Arend Oetker. Previous recipients include Laurent Benner, 2007; Julia Born, 2008; and Rebecca Stephany, 2009.
This year the Museum of Contemporary Art Leipzig presents the first solo exhibition in Germany by the Swiss-American graphic designer Zak Kyes. In collaboration with the curator, Barbara Steiner, the exhibition brings together a range of works by Kyes, as well as works by a host of collaborators that includes architects, artists, writers, curators, editors, and graphic designers, presenting contemporary graphic design as a practice that mediates, and is mediated by, its allied disciplines.
Kyes, who lives and works in London, is known for his critical approach to graphic design, which encompasses publishing, editing, and site-specific projects for and in collaboration with cultural institutions. In 2005, Kyes founded the design studio Zak Group, and, in 2006, he became Art Director of the Architectural Association (AA), London. Under the auspices of the AA, he organized the seminal touring exhibition "Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design," and later cofounded Bedford Press, an imprint that seeks to develop new models for contemporary publishing. By broadening the highly specialized role of the designer, Kyes challenges and further develops today's graphic design practice.
While this work constitutes the exhibition's point of departure, its focus is on the conceptual, visual, and economic intersections that link Kyes with his collaborators, revealing and further unfolding the designer's multivalent practice. These intersections vary in form from idealistic to pragmatic, urgent and time-sensitive to abiding and long lasting. Rather than presenting a chronological overview of Kyes's work, the exhibition highlights the designer's relations with partners, clients, and institutions, and the creative potential of these collaborations to evolve traditional understandings of graphic design, art, and architecture.
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 Peko will design 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 Arsène-Henry will conceive the audio guide. Artist Can Altay will conduct a publishing workshop, and archivist and librarian Edward Bottoms will offer a historical lecture on architectural publishing. Architects Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller will devise an archive structure, and graphic designer Wayne Daly will design an expanded exhibition catalogue published by Sternberg Press (2012) that will include contributions by Richard Birkett, Andrew Blauvelt, Edward Bottoms, Maria Lind, Markus Miessen, and Barbara Steiner, among others.