Monday, 14 April 2008
Interview: STACY WAKEFIELD FORTE
This is the first part of dual interviews between the twin founders of Evil Twin Publications.
Stacy Wakefield Forte studied book design at the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated from the Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam in 1994. As well as working with her sister on Evil Twin Publications, Stacy was Design Director at Artforum and Index magazines in New York.
Now living the Catskills of upstate New York, Stacy continues to design books, is a member of Booklyn, and works as a volunteer at hydro-powered WJFF Radio.
What effect did travelling outside the US at a young age have on you? And what were the key things you learned during this period? Charmed by squatting? Was it difficult to return to the home country?
Travelling internationally at any age is fascinating. You discover things you take for granted that other cultures look at completely differently. I loved squatting for the same reason, it expanded my notions of how basic things like housing and group living could and should work. In the netherlands there is a community around squatting that functions extremely well. People in that scene are very community focussed, which is surprising to be around coming from the US where the culture is very individualistic. American underground art and music culture is exciting exactly because of our intense individualism. But the dutch are much better than us at anything community-centered, like squatting and collectively run businesses and projects. In my experience.
You’re currently collaborating with Fritz Haeg, researching earth sheltered homes for a new book. Where did you discover Fritz’s work and how did the collaboration begin? And what drew you to the subject of earth sheltered homes?
I met Fritz in LA through mutual friends and we spontaneously discovered a shared fascination with earth sheltered houses. We both had ideas percolating around them that made more sparks when combined. Earth sheltered houses are so romantic and wonderful. Covering a house with a sod roof so that it blends with the landscape and the home is protected from the elements makes so much sense.
For some reason this style hasn't captured the sustainable-building imagination as much as it should, so I think this project is really important for bringing rooted houses more into the public conciousness. There are issues around building them, it is a little more complicated and expensive to build them than above ground houses, and the right site is very important. but with more attention and discussion brought to them, these things can be addressed and improved on. So our goal is to investigate earth sheltered building, its past and present and potential, and see what we find.
What are the prominent memories and key things you learned while working as design director for Artforum and Index Magazine?
Artforum is an extremely well-run independent magazine with a phenomenal staff. I was really lucky to get to work there. The design of the magazine is necessarily straightforward and subservient to the text and art images, so as much as i loved the working environment and being involved in such a venerable institution as Artforum is, I don't think the designer has a very integral role there. At Index I had the chance to have much more impact. It could be very challenging to work there because it was a small and chaotic operation, but that added to everyone's sense of urgency and personal accountability. The role of design in the magazine was huge, I worked in very close creative collaboration with the publisher, Peter Halley, and we tried out all kinds of ideas that editors would have killed at other magazines.
Usually as a designer, you are working to please a panel of editors, who are by nature word people and not always visually adventurous. I have no problem with that, I think that kind of collaboration between a designer and editor can lead to the most accessible and relevant design. But index was a departure from that because the only person with final say over my work was Peter Halley who is a visual artist, as well as a writer. He was always pushing me to be wilder.