Sawdust Wired 08 Sawdust Wired 07 Sawdust Wired 04 Sawdust Wired 01 Sawdust Wired 05 Sawdust Wired 03 Sawdust Wired 02

Interview: Sawdust

Posted: July 22, 2014

Sawdust is the award-winning creative partnership of Rob Gonzalez and Jonathan Quainton and for some time now, they have been producing work of an outstanding caliber. Often featuring strong typographic influences and an immaculate attention to detail, Sawdust’s work is both as unique as it is refined.

More recently, we have been particularly impressed by their typographic work for Wired (UK). We speak with both Rob and Jonathan about the project, how it came about and their creative direction.

Studio Name: Sawdust
Studio Size: Two
Location: London, United Kingdom
Further Reading:

Sawdust boast an impressive portfolio of work that is both refined and conceptually sound. Can you tell us a little about yourselves and the studio?

Rob: Jonathan and I met whilst studying, even then we would work together on certain projects and found it helpful for our process, being able to bounce ideas off one another. 

Jonathan: I suppose what makes Sawdust work collectively is our different individual skill sets and how they work together, I am interested in type in the purer sense — the forms and shapes of the letters, whilst Rob is drawn to the visual and artistic side of typography. Our work crosses over all the time and no work ever leaves the studio without both of us having given it the ‘green light’ — but it’s when our work combines that the most interesting results happen.

Sawdust’s portfolio heavily features typographic works, do you consider this to be a specialty of the studio?

J: I would say so yes. It’s a major interest of ours and we enjoy it, which is what it’s all about.

Furthermore, how does typography further inform other aspects of Sawdust’s work?

R: Typography plays a key role in almost all of our work now so even if we’re commissioned to create an illustration the subject matter is typically typographically led. 

You’ve recently completed a number of Projects for Wired UK Magazine, in what capacity has Sawdust been engaged and how did the projects originally come to fruition? 

J: Wired UK & US editions were attracted to us because our work sometimes explores the notion of technology, innovation, progression meets typography, which is a good match for Wired.

R: Wired UK contacted us about the magazine undergoing a redesign and were interested in engaging us to explore some typographic ideas for section headers running in the magazine on-going. They wanted something “clever but readable” and also for it to feel like an image as well as typography.

One of the projects comprised of creating a bespoke typeface for Wired May’s issue cover feature. How do you approach a project like this and what is your process when developing bespoke typography? 

J: The brief was to create a modern display typeface that reflected the content, which was based on health, technology and innovation. Our goal was to design something that felt clean as to reflect the clinical and medical side but then adding some expression to certain letters, denoting progression and innovation.

We had been playing with the idea of certain letters having a dramatically different cap-height and being lifted from the baseline. We found it to create an interesting visual rhythm whilst retaining its balance.

As part of working with Wired, you work collaboratively with several other designers including creative director (of Wired) Andrew Diprose, Matt Willey and Henrik Kubel. Can you tell us about this collaboration and how it influences your creative process?

R: We weren’t fortunate enough to meet Matt and Henrik as we all worked remotely from our respective studios and our roles were very different. Matt Willey and Andrew have a long-standing working relationship and Matt’s editorial design expertise was utilised for this.

J: Our role was specifically to design engaging typographic headers for the magazine’s redesign.

More recently you have completed bespoke typographic headers as part of the Wired UK redesign. Can you provide us with some insight into the creative direction and the outcomes of the project?

J: This project was very much an exploratory process. We wanted to challenge convention and preconceptions around traditional type but ensure readability remained. The typeface was strongly influenced by previous work for Fast Company and Playstation, projects that were referenced whilst speaking with Andrew from Wired. Those projects utilised progressive and ambiguous (see Playstation especially) typography, which was our main incentive to make something very ‘out there’. 

What’s next for Sawdust?

Keep doing what we love. If we stop loving it, we’ll do something else.

Image Credits
01: Wired Typeface Set
02: Wired Typeface Phrase
03: Wired Headers Sample
04: Wired Headers 'R'
05: Wired Headers 'S'
06: Wired Headers Set

Process Journal
Process Journal Edition Eleven (New York) is now available in print, with free worldwide shipping from our online store.

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