Payne and Relph

Oliver Payne & Nick Relph
exhibition catalogue designed with Oliver and Nick, Serpentine Gallery, London

I find it hard to collaborate, but I am always eager to try. I don’t like designers who never compromise—I like getting suggestions from others. Maki, a designer from Åbäke, told me the story of a difficult client who was very controlling of a project to design a poster: he wanted the title to be in bold, the e-mail address to be red, all the names to be bigger, and so on. I have never seen the finished poster, but I like the idea of it: an awkward hybrid of considered design with input and art direction from the client.

Working with Oliver and Nick was not exactly like that, but they did have some very specific ideas of what the exhibition catalog should look like. Being a fan of their films, I was open to forming the book as a collaboration, to result in something special that captured the essence and spontaneity of their practice.

The catalog’s many parts and details—London Transport fabric cover, a cell phone ringtone sound-chip, reproductions of rubber stamps, photographs, handwritten notes, a flip-book smiley face, German translations, essays, an interview, a selection of invited submissions, and input from the copublishers, Kunsthalle Zürich—combined with a very tight deadline and a tight budget, made it the most complex book I have ever designed, but now that it is completed, it looks like the simplest one.