SH: Your last project at the AA was the Cedric Price monograph edited by Samantha Hardingham, which received a Graham Foundation grant in 2012. Can you talk about what it has been like to work on this project for the past four years?
ZK: Cedric Price Works 1952–2003: A Forward-Minded Retrospective is a monumental two-volume monograph that brings together for the first time the pioneering projects, articles and talks of the British architect Cedric Price. Designed with Wayne Daly at the AA Print Studio, Cedric Price Works weighs 6.6kg, contains 1,400 pages, and over 900 drawings, photographs and images. We worked closely with the editor Samantha Hardingham, family members from the Cedric Price Estate and the two co-publishers: the AA, where Cedric Price studied and taught, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture which owns the archive.
The monograph is divided into two volumes contained within the kind of metal-edged archival case used in the office of Cedric Price Architects. Each volume uses material and production techniques that reflect the content within. The Projects volume is divided into decades by thumb index—a series of notches cut along the edge of the book. The volume includes a two and half metre-long leporello reproduction of Price’s 1965 City of the Future drawing.
The estate was very engaged with the design process, caring deeply about creating something that—above all else—Cedric would have approved of. That was very much in our mind. While the result is a historical document, it is also animated by Cedric’s personality and even some of his stamps. Though I never met Cedric, I felt that I go to know him through the process of making the book and working with the family. On the evening of the launch, Eleanor Bron gave me one of Cedric’s black and white checkered plaid shirts.
SH: During your tenure at the AA, your studio Zak Group has worked on many institutional identity projects. I can only imagine being imbedded in the AA for the last ten years has given you particular insight into the role graphic design plays in the life of an institution. Has your time at the AA changed how you think about graphic identities?
ZK: The experience at the AA gave me an opportunity to work and think beyond the conventional client/designer relationship. It also gave me an understanding of institutions from the inside and out—which are complex, unstable entities that need to grow and evolve. At Zak Group this has lead us to develop an approach that allows for growth by not over-planning. When we are invited to conceive of new graphic identities, we work with similarly collaborative teams within institutions to give shape to their programmes. The experience of art directing a school and a publishing company taught us not to conceive of identity separately from digital, publishing or exhibition design, but on a continuum of giving shape.