“The idea was to create something like a bookshelf in a library that would be a visual archive for our work,” says the Leipzig-based graphic designer David Voss of his studio’s newly updated site. Placed in orderly rows against a stone-colored background, each rectangular icon jumps to life with a drop shadow when you hover over it, bringing the work of Bureau David Voss to life; the identity systems, leaflet designs, magazines, posters, and publications devised for art and culture clients.
Displayed in the David Voss library/portfolio hybrid are fantastic typographic explosions and digital renderings that combine the spirit of Dada collage with tongue-in-cheek typography. Identity systems for local exhibitions are like hefty encyclopaedias, dense with information, and you’ll also find examples of the studio’s art direction for literary magazine Edit among the digital shelves.
The website hints evocatively at the studio’s context and background: Voss studied at the prestigious Leipzig Academy of Visual Art, known for its emphasis on editorial design, and linked closely to the city’s rich publishing and bookbinding history. He set up shop in 2008, and in 2014 partnered with a recent Academy of Visual Arts graduate, Ondine Pannet. A year later, Pannet won the Prize for Young Book Design at Germany’s, Stiftung Buchkunst.
Books may be their first passion, but the studio is developing a fascination with architecture and public space, and a desire to evoke place through 2D design and printed matter.
“I’m interested in urban planning and how it affects people and their environments,” says Voss. “My friends and I often hike through cities for holidays, and this interest of course has an effect on my work as a graphic designer.”
For architecture festival RASTER:BOTON, which celebrates late modern “plattenbau” housing estates (structures constructed from large, prefabricated concrete slabs), Voss took a walk through the event’s home in Leipzig’s Grüanu neighborhood. The estate was built 40 years ago in the former GDR, and as so often happened with homogenous modernist designs, when actual inhabitants moved into the uniform blocks, they dressed up their apartments to convey individual personality. Knick-knacks like garden gnomes, lacy curtains, bulging boxes of colorful flowers, and intricate bird cages are still a staple of the balconies of these estates.
“The typographic look of the posters and brochures we created was meant to be as lively as standing in front of a housing block with all its colorful balconies,” says Voss. “The typography’s layout then reflects the architecture as it’s in a grid.” Text slips from this regimented grid like a particularly unruly pot of tomato plants streaming from a window box, the design loosely capturing the lived reality of the architecture.
For posters for Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig (KKW), Voss wanted to convey how the gallery’s space had been transformed from a former power plant into a contemporary art space. The structure is large and dusty, and it now holds exhibitions that take a wide range of formats; different typographies represent the different shows taking place, and overlapping, darkened shapes seem to evoke the shadowy history of the industrial building.
The most recent addition to the “library” of David Voss is a set of visual communication for an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig. Voss selected a gold shine to reference The Factory when designing invitations and, because context is key for him, the gold surface is translucent, evoking the glass structure that houses the museum.