CIVILIZATION - TRANSCRIPT
When we were coming together to form Civilization, it was like, almost starting a new band, and we started talking about the things that we are inspired by, whether it was art, or other designers, music etc...
And then we started thinking about the designers that we really loved, we realized that there was this thread that was through them and the projects that we were really into, were projects that were less about selling things and more about creating movements or, just a commentary on design or bringing people together.
Ken Garland’s "First Things First" manifesto when we found out about that, and that was like "oh that's a really great, great ethos to follow," and then Milton Glaser and Push Pin Studio.
Yeah I would say design history is one of the big connection points we all kind of geeked out on very similar things, and within that, we have all these amazing projects for social change.
I’m Corey Gutch, I’m co-founder and principal of Civilization, Michael Ellsworth, co-founder and principal of Civilization, and I’m Gabriel Stromberg, co-founder and creative director of Civilization.
And we came together years ago to form this design practice, many years ago. We’d be walking to get coffee and walk by Gabriel's gallery at the time, and he’d be screenprinting or having work in the window and we're all just fans of what each other was doing and kind of organically came together.
So we refer to ourselves as a design practice versus an agency or firm because we do different things than a traditional sort of studio or firm or agency does. We have our self initiated projects that are a part of the company very much, Non Breaking Space, our gallery space here, Beyond This Point, our podcast series, and the Design Lecture Series, 1:56 and so because those are really part of our company, those are sort of experiments as far as our practice as designers so we felt that practice was the most appropriate term to use.
So the lecture series brings speakers to inform and educate, the podcast has conversations with them that are recorded, and the gallery is the opportunity to show this work.
Within the word practice there's this element of action which i think is really appropriate, for the way that we approach design.
When were approached by Amelia Bonow to help with the digital platform it was already building on this movement that happened really organically via social media. Of people telling their personal story and then using the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion, so the way we approached the platform for it was to create this positive safe space for people to tell their story and this aggregate of all these stories really created this activism through personal narrative. And that "Take Action" section was a way to give people tools to take it further than just the personal narrative.
From a design perspective, this was a really kind of small grassroots movement, and they still are, but the impact that they were making was really huge. So I think, with design, we were really looking to, kind of match that size, with their visual embodiment of what they were doing.
And I know one of the ways we approach that was at the very beginning of the site there this kind of collage that incorporates images from the history of the movement, of the pro choice movement, and so it was a, we thought that was really interesting thing to kind of take that history to use that to kind of really illustrate the tradition and the history and the amount of people that had been involved in this and in this issue.
So it’s not like this is the start of something. It’s just adding to this lineage.
Typographically, we were just looking at kind of the history of protest posters, so a lot of the typ faces we chose were very utilitarian, very stripped down.
If you look throughout the SYA site and also the poster campaign that we did for them, the imagery is very stark and graphic. It's black and white, and we were definitely wanting to reference the quality of the zines that they were making, because this was the way they were kind of getting their message out before they came to us, so it was part of who they were.
It’s not necessarily trying to figure out a way to develop empathy for the user, it’s like these are people that we know, you know, they’re not, it's not necessarily looking at it from that kind of viewpoint, about trying to like sell a product and market it. It's about listening to the people that this is for.
And the other thing that's surfaced out of these initiatives, and design history, and seeing this lineage and how we're working in it, is that we have gotten to this point where we realized that design is a collective human act, it doesn't happen in a vacuum, it's all of these things are connected together and building off each other.
And I think at the heart of all of these different things, there is kind of a key philosophy. I mean we think design is important it's what we've all decided to dedicate our lives to.
And I think really our intentions behind all those things is to get people excited, like to get people excited about design because we’re excited about design.