Now that design seems to be subject to the winds of artificial intelligence, style is more important than ever. Known for the subtlety and timelessness of his identities, posters, and books, graphic designer Ibán Ramón represents for many the formula that never runs out. RI HOUSE now presents his latest book ‘Por encima de todo / Tensar la cuerda’, a publication in which images and texts overlap like indivisible layers of information.
TELL US ABOUT THIS NEW PUBLICATION.
This year we celebrates the 20-year history of the studio and it was a good excuse to publish a book, but I did not want it to be just a compilation of projects. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about the ideas behind the work, the processes and motivations, preferences, goals…
The book has two titles: Por encima de todo / Tensar la cuerda’, I use some examples to explain what is prioritized in each project, what is put first: simplicity, content, process, experimentation, and finally, “tensar la cuerda,” which refers to the idea of stretching the client and the user to move forward, to learn how to read images and accept new languages, depending on the context of each case. Understanding that design is a (also) cultural issue and should not remain anchored in time.
The texts in the book overlap with the images, sometimes printed directly on them, and other times placed on small pieces of paper that are attached to some pages. Everything is very mixed, like layers of indivisible information.
IS THIS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I don’t have a closed method; I move in a kind of chaos. There are steps that are always taken and have their order of appearance, but then there is a continuous back and forth, I discard many ideas for different reasons, designing has to do with thinking, selecting, and making decisions, the form comes at the end of the process, as a result that I prefer not to anticipate, it ends up coming out almost unintentionally.
THROUGHOUT THESE 20 YEARS OF THE STUDIO’S LIFE, WHAT PROJECTS HAVE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYED?
Many, I really enjoy what I do, although it is work and there is also suffering and a lot of effort. There is a lot of self-demand and responsibility that makes it impossible to relax, and tension is always constant. But I remember with great satisfaction works such as the “Mueble de España” campaign from 2004 or some public campaigns carried out for Valencian institutions, I am very interested in the public and anything related to culture. The campaign for the Filmoteca d’estiu in 2019 or the recent one for the Generalitat Valenciana’s 9 d’octubre. The design of some logos such as Gan, which is already 15 years old and I still like it very much, that of Francesc Rifé Studio, which was an easy process with very good communication, or the logo for the Capital of Design in Valencia 2022. There are also many book designs that I have enjoyed, many art catalogs, and also small publications with my reference Fallera commission (Falla Corona), with which I have been collaborating for a long time.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE RI HOUSE AND FRANCESC RIFÉ STUDIO IDENTITIES?
The brand design of Francesc Rifé Studio has to do with the work you do, which I find clean, honest, and without artifice. With an appearance of normality and also of a certain containment, everything very well done, but without any excessive demonstration of anything, and if anything, with some subtle gestures, visible to sensitive eyes. The logo also has all of that, a very subtle gesture, like using italics in the keyword within the name, to highlight it, but only a little, without making any noise. And maintaining that cleanliness throughout its application, remembering that gesture at some moments, where we want to put a little emphasis, titles, project or product names, etc.
DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU DESIGN? WHAT DOES YOUR STUDIO SOUND LIKE?
I listen to music all the time, I’ve been into experimental and minimalist music since I was very young: Wim Mertes and Nyman, especially their early works, which I discovered through Greenaway’s films, Glass. When I was young, I used to listen to things that the people around me couldn’t stand, like Morton Feldman and similar things, but I’m also very interested in repertoire music, classical and ancient music. Some jazz. And of course, I also like rock, especially alternative rock. I really like, for example, what Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood do, solo or together in all their different formations, of course Radiohead. Now we have so much at our disposal that it’s endless, the list is endless, although there are things that play continuously while I work, Johann Johannsson, Arvo Part, Richter, Hania Rani, Julia Kent, Nils Frahm, The Smile, Mahler, Brad Mehldau, Bach…
WHAT IS YOUR SPACE LIKE, THE SPACE YOU LOVE?
I don’t think there’s a perfect space, or at least I haven’t found it, but I try to get close to it. On the one hand, I like simple and uncluttered environments, I’m interested in materials almost alone, woods, empty plaster walls, etc. But then I’m a great lover of objects and I can’t give up having many things. I like versatile spaces, open and bright spaces. My space is like this, smaller than I would like, so that there is less density of things, or that with a gesture almost everything is hidden. But I’m immensely happy in my place, I love my house and also the studio, if it could be moved I would bring the studio next to my house, perhaps only separated by the terrace, which offers me views of infinity.