If you happened to be in Glasgow during Book Week Scotland, you might have stumbled across the public library and noticed a rainbow array of colors streaming from the four brown columns of the building’s façade. Glasgow is a city made from a lot of stone, so the color stood out enormously. The bright, Memphis-inspired explosion is the work of Gabriella Marcella, a graphic designer who leaves whatever she touches spangled in pattern and paint. “My reaction to surface or space is to decorate it,” Marcella coolly informs me. “Wrapping the library columns in massive patterns was instinctive.”
As well as a portfolio jammed with posters, public-space initiatives, album covers, and silk scarves, Marcella runs Risotto, a Risograph print shop where she can inject a wide spectrum of Adobe colors into everything that comes her way. For the young designer, pattern is a way to alter and lift the world around her. The aim is to “animate surface,” to transform things by “giving volume to something flat.” Marcella’s densely packed posters combine retro Riso with a bold, illustrated hand that brings life to whatever grey lamppost they might be attached to.
It’s also unsurprising that music plays an important part in Marcella’s work; she transforms rhythm and noise into visual symbols in an almost synesthetic way, and album art and venue posters seem the perfect platform for her designs. “For a lot of designers, it’s the ideal industry to work for, as your interests and values are in sync,” Marcella says. In addition to music, scroll through Marcella’s blog and you’ll find an array of other reference points—Albert Camus book covers, LEGO box designs, psychedelic Rolling Stones posters, and, of course, different iterations of the color wheel.
Dressed in a zebra-striped coat and glowing red top, or zig-zag earrings and a neon pink-and-blue smock, Marcella’s aesthetic feeds into all areas of her life. “I’m a magpie for color and print, and everything I buy is loud.” When I speak with her, she’s in the midst of planning a fashion collection and she’s also just redecorated, covering her apartment in thick dollops of white paint. “My thinking was that having a plain background would reduce the ‘circus’ vibe, and I think it’s worked.” But if her graphic art is anything to go by, the white walls probably won’t remain that way for very long.