When it comes to “In Good Company Intl.,” the name says it all. Based in London and Shanghai, the two-person-strong studio and publishing house is the collaborative practice between Julia Luckmann and Scene Peng, spanning design, curating, trading, and all of the in-between. Since its foundation, “In Good Company” has produced fifteen publications, making its debut at the Unfold Shanghai Book Fair in 2021. “Independent publications are personal, intimate, and individual points of view. We enjoy sharing them on our platform and trading them for our contributors at international book fairs, reaching new audiences,” Julia tells Collide24. Together—and with their network of collaborators—the duo channels their individual and combined visions into projects using an array of creative tools and techniques. “‘In Good Company’ is not only about publishing but a wider vision. Essentially, we would like to share our knowledge in the form of designs, books, exhibitions, conversations, and ideas—a bit like a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk,’” Scene reflects.
For their debut at the Unfold Shanghai Book Fair in 2021, Julia and Scene sent out invitations to a curated list of artists, asking them to submit one of their existing works. “The aim was to take something close to them and us and to extend its reach and audience,” Julia explains. Among the featured artists are Adeline, Jess Li, Billie Muraben and Lillian Wilken, Scelia Penmann, Emily Schofield and Daniel Johns, Kalisha Tambunan, Trang Ha, Jake Vine, Can Yang, Motong Yang, Fengfeng Ye, and Zahari Dimitrov. Ranging from photo books to design zines, the selection of publications covers a variety of themes. “Non-Essential Necessities” by Motong Yang, for instance, shows a collection of photographs taken during a year-long journey through different Chinese provinces. “Eponym?” by Emily Schofield and Daniel Johns is a documentation of their same-titled research-based project questioning the hierarchical relationship between object and subject by creating abstract versions of everyday objects and pieces of furniture.
Julia and Scene met during a four-day-long commune project during their pre-degree design course “The Foundation Diploma in Art and Design” at Central Saint Martins in London. They collaborated further during their studies which led them to work together on the visual identity for the CSM Degree Show in 2020. With both eventually living in different cities after their graduation, they “never lost their common ground,” as Julia tells us. After reading an interview about the design studio Non-Format and how its founders Kjell Ekhorn and Jon Forss operate from Norway and the U.S., the two designers found themselves inspired and motivated to set up their own studio, working collaboratively across continents. “Being in good company isn’t limited to physical space, but encourages us to embrace and to develop our practices—together,” Scene concludes. However, she also shines a spotlight on the effort that goes into creating a book in the digital age: “Online, we can change things anytime, but when making a publication, you need to make your decisions very carefully. Working together actually makes all the design decisions harder, but it always pays off in the long run.”
When she was a kid, Scene dreamt of becoming an architect. She was fascinated with how architecture blurs the boundaries between logic and creativity. Later on, this fascination led her to pursue a career in graphic design instead. “Architecture improved my understanding of composition and fueled my excitement for graphic design and its potential,” she tells us. Next to ”In Good Company,” she also maintains a freelance practice where she enjoys experimenting with different mediums and collaborating with like-minded creatives. A recent project saw Scene working on the design for Trey Abdella’s solo show “Almost Heaven” at X Museum in Beijing . A further project was Scene’s work for Chán Magazine – a freshly founded magazine celebrating Britain’s Sinophone community. Even if Scene didn’t pursue a career in architecture as originally planned, she still finds parallels thereto in her work: “For me, a book is a moment frozen in time, like a miniature piece of architecture. It becomes a reference for the future, something to look back and reflect on.”
While growing up, Julia was “purely interested in language and started out with drawing images of what I was reading. Today, words are still my visual medium of choice. By composing scales, weight, and rhythm I can enhance the meaning of the content, the pace, and maybe even the emotions of the viewer. Words become places, I aim to construct them with the same freedom as I construct images,” she tells us. Now having graduated from university, she currently works at a London-based design studio, while producing self-initiated projects on the side. What Julia enjoys most about In Good Company, is bringing books into the world and sharing their message with a broad audience: “Spreading the word for good work that might reach beyond the author’s usual range—and new readers spreading the word further. I think this works especially well with printed matter. The basic structure of pages following pages is familiar to us all. I feel that it is an inclusive, approachable, and humble medium to work with.”
As a two-person team, Julia and Scene find the process of collaborating with other artists refreshing and hope to be able to broaden their network in the future. “If ‘In Good Company’ gets as autonomous as we imagine it to be in the future, collaborators might be setting up an IGC table at a local book fair, while other collaborators join an online talk representing IGC. We quite literally have the goal to be a ‘good’ company—and I think that starts with not being precious about having all the control,” Julia tells us about their vision for the future. Wherever Scene and Julia might end up, they are sure to be in good company.