Titled Designers Against Coronavirus, the mammoth publication provides a comprehensive study of the past (near) two years, featuring illustrations and designs from a broad mix of international artists.
Carosello Lab and the Italian Red Cross have teamed together to produce a comprehensive book named Designers Against Coronavirus. Described as a collector's book, the tome features works created by Italian and international artists and designers throughout the pandemic – amassing to more than 270 works in total, plus 17 interviews, a preface by IUAV University of Venice professor Fiorella Bulegato and Francesco Rocca, president of Italian Red Cross and IFRC.
"I got the idea during the very first week of the first Italian lockdown in early 2020," says Enrico Caputo, founder and creative director at Carosello Lab. "We started working remotely, and I saw many designers posting personal works to share their point of view on what was going on. I thought it would be interesting to create a curated archive of those works, to leave a testimony of those uncertain times." Before proceeding with the idea, Enrico called Kim Constantino, senior designer at the studio, and the two commenced the project the next day. Two weeks later, the digital archive was built.
It didn't take long for the project to reach a crescendo and, what first started as a personal project soon evolved into a much larger study – a momentous record of a pivotal moment in history. Hundreds of submissions flooded in, and Enrico thought it wise to reach out to the Italian Red Cross to ask if they wanted to be part of the project. "Luckily", he says, they received support from donors including Fedrigoni Paper, who gave the paper for free; Luxoro, who provided the brass printing screens for the covers and foils; plus Grafiche Antiga, who printed the book at the lowest fair possible. "Basically," adds Kim, "we wanted to give physical shape to the digital archive, both for fundraising purposes and to give more depth to the project. The book allowed us to publish interviews and essays that provide contextual information for the visual content."
Inside, expect to find a broad mix of illustration and design work – from bold graphics to geometric type, sketchy drawings to digital formations. One of those featured is illustrator Malika Favre. She "played a big role" in shaping the publication as she shared the call for designers with her own followers and thus contributed her artworks and an interview. Elsewhere, you'll stumble across work from creatives like MM Paris, Akatre, Lundgren & Lindqvist, Vrints-Kolsteren, Anagrama, Futur Neue and more. And, when asked about his favourites, Enrico highlights some creatives that he hadn't heard of before collating the project. "I really enjoy a series of illustrations by Sophia Twight, showcasing people doing sports in their homes; I love the simple and wise approach, plus the vibrant colour palette. I also love Grace J. Kim's outstanding submission: a diver jumping in a hand sanitiser bottle. Last but not least, I miss you by Bio Pastori is for sure in my top five."
Kim adds on the matter: "I'm very happy we involved Fiorella BUlegato and Alberto Bassi, design critics and historians that contributed with a short essay titled Towards adaptive design. Another written contribution is a short essay Brief: Covid-19 by Lorenzo Gerbi, an Italian cultural producer based in The Netherlands."
Split across four chapters – let's be careful, let's keep thinking, let's stay united, let's remain joyful – the book strives to make sense of the past (near) two years. Within its pages, messages of hope and resilience are brought to the fore, proving that art really does have the power to change, document and communicate even in hardship. "I believe it's really about connection," shares Kim. "Lockdown seems like an old story, but it was just a few months ago. Designers Against Coronavirus allowed many creatives to feel part of a community that was reacting creatively to those dramatic and lonely days."