Noviki's style is characterized by an economy of form, conceptualism and the use of abbreviations. By experimenting with new media technologies, designers Katarzyna Nesterowicz and Marcin Nowicki try to expand the notion of graphic art so that it includes interactive applications and videoposters.
Noviki is a graphic design studio established by Marcin Nowicki and Katarzyna Nestorowicz, based in Warsaw, Poland.
Active in the Warsaw graphic scene for a few years, the duo delve deeply into design research, dismissing preliminary assumptions as insufficient. In line with this custom, they blatantly oppose the common practice of taking quick commissions they observe of their contemporaries. As Noviki told Culture.pl:
We’re interested in the possibility of clashing and discussing as well as the intense interpersonal interactions and in the possibility of fathoming somebody's references.
They started out collaborating with cultural institutions and continue to develop their activity in this field. Fine examples include Rewitalizacje (Revitalizations) by Wojciech Gilewicz; Najlepsze wystawy, które nie miały miejsca (The Best Exhibitions that Didn’t Take Place), Contemporary Museum, Wrocław; and Po trzydziestu latach. Spojrzenie na pracownię Oskara Hansena (30 Years After. A Look at Oskar Hansen’s Workshop), The Museum of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. However, Novicki's aspirations extend far beyond the hermetic limitations of the art world.
The poster designs for the now-defunct Kolonie Gallery are exceptionally noteworthy examples of Noviki's highly experimental work. This commission was part of a bigger graphic structure that was being created under the auspices of the venue. The designers adopted an innovative approach for the realization for the project by consulting the artists: the outcome of discussions with Katarzyna Przezwańska, Tymek Borowski, Norman Leto and Paweł Sysiak provided the inspiration for the final product. In this way blurring the line between applied graphic art and art, the series of posters and postcards became an expositional artifact itself. Indeed, this set of works was included in the group exhibition EXPO Kolonie at the Poznań Stereo Gallery (2011). Noviki used a similar strategy when they collaborated with the scenographer Małgorzta Szczęśniak on the exhibition Pojawia się i znika (Appears and Disappears) prepared by the architect and art theoretician Aleksandra Wasilkowska for the New Theatre (2013).
A project for the Contemporary Museum of Wrocław's exposition Najlepsze wystawy, które nie miały miejsca (The Best Exhibitions that Didn’t Take Place), the duo created a generative installation (generated by a computer) which was presented at the Node 13 festival of art and technology in Frankfurt. There they brought a certain popular convention to an extreme through collaboration with Ludovik Balland, the esteemed designer responsible for the visual identification of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.
For the Dziennik Opinii (The Journal of Opinions) magazine's internet site, Novicki had the task of creating a brand identity with a simple and universal social message addressed to a broad audience - a challenge to which the duo keenly rose.
Additionally, Noviki continue to work on both niche book publications and exhibition settings. They propose experimental solutions outside of traditional 'images and text' formats, such as the catalogue to the AAAkupunktura exhibition curated by Mirosław Bałka, an alternative compositions for which the reader must cut the pages of the album himself. In this way, an unengaged reader gets 'punished.'
The artists also explore the potential of non- and anti-aesthetic language. The Gestalten publishing house invited the studio to co-create a new publication together with a group of international curators, a project in which participants were encouraged to use 'ugly graphic forms'. The anti-aesthetic convention was adopted by the duo during their work on Encyklopedia polskiej psychodelii (The Encyclopedia of Polish Psychedelia) by Kamil Sipowicz, published by the Krytyka Polityczna publishing house. The intense neon cover with blurred patches create an amorphous, controversial composition that assaults the eyes.
Indeed, Noviki switch from one aesthetic to another with ease. The duo opted for a luxurious formula for Aleksandra Wasilikowska’s Shadow Architecture, a publication devoted to various issues including street trade and vigilant societies. By giving the under-the-counter trade a 'prestigious' look that significantly juxtaposes its content, the album plays with the expectations of the readers.
There is a considerable dose of scepticism in Noviki’s work. Their artistic ethos is rooted in systematic doubt concerning beliefs we tend to hold true. Doubt is an integral part of graphic design – questioning what the purpose of the work is and what medium best suits the message conveyed is crucial. Noviki go a step further and even question the existence of their own studio, as for some time now they’ve also been known as Post-Noviki. Their work goes beyond constrained areas; in addition to regular commissions they explore an alternative framework for design which they consider as part of the research process. Nestotowicz and Nowicki participate in panel discussions and workshops, as well as giving lectures and consultations – they examine publishing, curating, and exhibiting practices in post-artistic times. Due to their cooperation with various clients, Noviki are often perceived as ‘shape shifters’ or even ‘utopian travellers of hyper-realism’.
In September 2014, the new headquarters of the Cricoteka Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor opened in Kraków. In addition to an exhibition, the opening was accompanied by a series of workshops, meetings, and performances. Nothing Twice is a catalogue created especially for this event and entirely designed by the Noviki duo. The opening aimed at showing affiliations between theatre, performance, and visual arts; it examined how ‘nothing in life happens twice’. Apart from the catalogue, Nestorowicz and Nowicki designed the visual identification of the exhibition using the idea of transience ‘through the endless repetition of literal compositions’.
Two years later, Post-Noviki worked on the graphic design for an exhibition entitled Objects Do Things at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw. The project appealed to the pleasure one gets from engaging with the world of imagination. It combined puppet theatre and visual arts, putting the titular objects at the centre of the experiment. The event showed how things can interact in the artistic world and in what ways this can be applied to human existence. In addition to a coherent narrative for the exhibition, the graphic designers created a promotional video.
One of Noviki’s more recent projects is a magazine created for the Opera Buffa Theatre. In 2018 the theatre celebrated its 20th anniversary. The duo came up with the idea of a transitional, modern fashion magazine which featured two main aspects. The first was a thorough presentation of the theatre’s history, while the second focused on the uniqueness and originality of this theatrical undertaking. The troupe consists of people with schizophrenia and people who openly talk about this disease trying to shed light on the topic. Through their plays, the Opera Buffa Theatre tries to show reality through the eyes of schizophrenics. They want to present to viewers a completely different perspective than the one they’re familiar with and at the same time introduce the topic of said mental illness to the public, in order to debunk the stereotypes surrounding this community. The two layers of the magazine broke away from the typical form of archival publications. Post-Noviki ended up with something between a professional, artistic magazine and an academic album. The designers played around with the form and created fictional ads and speculative tourist sections in the magazine.
Another of Noviki's projects was the 2018 exhibition Peer-to-Peer: Collective Practices in New Art. The title refers to the method of direct communication between networked computers. The exhibition featured at the Museum of Art in Łódź touches upon the topic of contemporary methods of collective working developed mostly by the generation of thirty-something artists. Nowadays, the peer-to-peer system has eliminated the intermediary position from the service and finance sectors, replacing it with digital technology due to which it is possible to create grassroots alternatives to corporate systems. Symbols of the already existing peer-to-peer infrastructure, such as Uber, Airbnb, and Blockchain, inspired the project. Nesterowicz and Nowicki – along with the Matosek / Niezgoda duo – were responsible for the graphic design and arrangement of the exhibition space.
In addition to working on exhibitions, Post-Noviki produced two short but visually impressive films. The first, Displacement, explores the concept of displacement in various contexts – sociological, personal and aesthetic. The video produced in 2015 has two narratives. One presents the process of tracking graphics from Marcin Nowicki’s blog, since the act of re-blogging by other users completely displaces the context of the work. The second narrative concerns the problem of internally displaced people – there is no legal definition of displacement despite the fact that this is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The video wittily integrates materials found with through re-blogged links, which emphasises how inadequate and ridiculous those affected by displacement must feel.
The Soul Agent Video was made in 2017 using the photogrammetry technique and focused on exploring the role of images in our lives. This film is a journey to the world of the psyche, where memory, soul, and archetypal images are embedded in the narrative of American psychologist James Hillman.
Designers' website: noviki.net
Author: Lidia Pańków, September 2013. Updated HSz, May 2019.
young polish design
- Pretty Ugly Graphic Design & Style – Visual Rebellion in Design, Gestalten, 2012
- Introducing Culture Identities, Gestalten, 2013
- TYPO, IDPURE, Slanted, 2010–2013
- 2013 – Best Graphic Design Project Of The Year 2013, STGU; First prize in the category: Print for Encyklopedia polskiej psychodelii (The Encyclopedia of Polish Psychedelia)by Kamil Sipowicz
- 2012 – Projekt Roku (Project of the Year), Polski Konkurs Graficzny, nominacja za identyfikację wizualną Instytutu Studiów Zaawansowanych
- 2011 – Best Graphic Design Project Of The Year 2011, STGU; Gold in the Polish Ed-Awards 2011, category: books and illustrations; wyróżnienie w kategorii: Print — za Shadow Architecture Oli Wasilkowskiej nominacja w kategorii: Forma – Identyfikacja Galeria Kolonie.
- 2010/2011 – Konkurs Graficzny, nominacja za formę i identyfikację Galerii Kolonie
Participation in selected exhibitions:
- 2018 – Post-Noviki: Memplex, Art Bunker Gallery, Kraków; Postterrorism. International Poster Competition, USA; 28th International Biennial Of Graphic Design, Brno, Czech Republic; Peer-To-Peer. Collective Practices In New Art, Museum of Art, Łódź
- 2017 – 140 Beats Per Minute: Rave Culture And Art In 1990s Poland, MOMA, Warsaw; Flumaddidle. Graphic Design Scotland, Glasgow, Scotland; Ministry Of Internal Affairs, Intimacy As Text, MOMA, Warsaw
- 2016 – Assembled, Disassembled, Zachęta Project Room, Warsaw; 27th International Biennial Of Graphic Design, Brno, Czech Republic
- 2015 – The Collective Intention in Depot Basel, Basel; Architektura Cienia, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; De Service Garage, Design Displacement Group show, Amsterdam; Manifest Fest, 50th Anniversary of Ken Garland's Manifesto, Warsaw; Designing Poland, Tent London, Bazaristan, Wrocław; Festival Fur Zeigenossische Kunst, Görlitz; Druga Ogólnopolska Wystawa Znaków Graficznych, Gdynia Design Centre, BWA Wrocław, Warsaw MOMA
- 2014 – Recipe For Small Design, Łódź Design, Łódź/ Bwa, Katowice; Is It Art Or Is It Just, BWA, Zielona Góra; Brno Biennale 26th, This is not a workshop, Brno
- 2013 – 22th Poster Biennale, BWA, Katowice; The Wrong, New Digital Art Biennale, São Paulo; ENFANT TERRIBLE, La nouvelle affiche polonaise, BOZAR, Brussels; NODE13, Forum for Digital Arts, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt; La Noche De Los Libros Mutantes, La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Best Graphic Design Project Of The Year 2013, STGU, 1st prize: Print for Encyklopedia Polskiej Psychodelii (Encyclopedia of Polish Psychodelia) by Kamil Sipowicz
- 2011 – 5th International Biennal Design Exhibition, Lemesos, Cyprus; Dialogs Biennale, Manege, Petersburg, Nepokorennye, Moscow;
- 2010 – EXPO, Kolonie and Stereo Exchange Gallery, Poznań; Ain't No Sorry, Museum of Modern Art, Warszawa; HMM..., Arsenal Gallery, Białystok; Powinność i Bunt, Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw; Let's Dance, CCA, Kiev; ZOOM OUT!, Video Art Festival, Berlin