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Kapitza Studio founders Petra and Nicole Kaptiza

East end design studio Kapitza is in the running for an award in the London Design Museum's prestigious Design of the Year 2013 Awards. Here its founders Nicole and Petra Kapitza talk about their shortlisted project and their work.
Kapitza Studio founders Petra and Nicole Kaptiza

Petra and Nicole Kapitza

Kapitza Studio founders Petra and Nicole Kaptiza

'Organic' book cover

Kapitza Studio founders Petra and Nicole Kaptiza

A Kapitza desktop font

Kapitza Studio founders Petra and Nicole Kaptiza

USPS parcel service stamp

Kapitza Studio founders Petra and Nicole Kaptiza

A spread from 'Geometric'

What has led you both to where you are and what you do now?
We were encouraged to be creative and inventive from a very young age. Growing up in the countryside offered us a lot of freedom but we also had to have a vibrant imagination to avoid getting bored as there weren’t any classes or other kids’ entertainment. Maybe this continues to influence our way of working as we still take inspiration from our surroundings and use our often limited resources with the ambition to make the most of it. Our parents were always supportive in what we wanted to do - along the way we were tutored by great people like Dirk Van Dooren from Tomato, Scott King and Heinz Edelmann.
 
Can you tell us something about ‘Organic’?
The organic project is a progression from our first book ‘Geometric’. For ‘Geometric’ we designed 100+ pattern fonts, which were very regular and each glyph occupied the same size space in the font software. With ‘Organic’ our ambition was to move as far away as possible from the regularity enforced by the font software and the Layout Software. It was inspired by nature, organic forms and shapes, irregularity. The aim was to create lively, energetic and bold artworks. Each design was meant to work as a page in the book, but it should work as a framed artwork on the wall.
 
It’s clearly struck a chord with everyone who’s seen it - why do you think that is?
Difficult to say, we don’t really want to blow our own trumpet. We think it might push people’s ideas of what you can do with font software if you are not afraid and don’t stick to the rules. Also we paid a lot of focus on the book as such, it was very important to us that the each of the designs would be beautiful, but also the book would be a nice object in itself.
 
As an example of what Kapitza does, what does it say about the studio’s practice?
We work completely independently. The work featured in our books is self-initiated, self-made, self published. This is why it’s so great to be nominated for the Designs of the Year award, because the Organic book is 100% Kapitza!
 
How do you choose the stock in relation to the content of a book?
We love uncoated stock as the ink ‘seeps’ into the paper and the printing dots become almost invisible. You also get a slightly ‘cloudy’ look in larger areas of one colour. We like the way the artwork becomes part of the paper. It is also important for us to chose stock that is environmentally friendly, either recycled or from sustainable forests.
 
Your work is both self-generated and commissioned; how do the two inform eachother, and do you prefer one over the other?

We enjoy both self-initiated and working to a client brief. Most of our work is self-initiated. When we work with clients their requests are often based on something they have seen and they ask us to create something unique for them based on a design they like. It’s nice to work to a client brief as it might move us in a different direction.
 
What are some favourite Kapitza projects and why, and what would be a dream project for you?
Favourite projects are our ‘Organic’ book, the ‘Geometric’ book and the Kaleidoscope stamp collection we did for United States Parcel Service (USPS). One dream project is to work in collaboration with fashion designers and interior designers to create artwork for walls and textiles. We would love to see our work big on a wall or on a catwalk.
 
What is something you consider absolutely essential to your work?
To experiment!

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