The last time we wrote about designer Virgile Flores was about a year ago, when he released Syncope in collaboration with his friends Victor Sillon and Merlin Blondel, a musical project trying to explore the bridges between music and design. One year later, Virgile is back at it again with the incredibly well-designed and detailed publication Syn1+1 which can be seen as an extension of Syncope. “This publication is actually the continuity of the project we talked about last time”, Virgile tells Collide24, “Syn is the short form for syncope and also stands for the abbreviation of synesthesia. 1+1 is a dumb way to enhance the collaborative aspect of the project we are talking about in the journal, but I thought it was a cool and weird addition to the name, as a publication.” Building on the theme of the original project, the journal explores visual and musical collaborations, featuring great talents like the Nantes based music label Arpège, Baptiste Bernazeau, Corentin Billot, Quentin Coulombier and Trevor Powers.
“It all came into being based on a simple idea: It is easy to find graphic resources, but it’s hard to find what the purpose, process and meaning of these contents is”, Virgile states, “I find it more interesting to know about how the process shaped the design than just seeing the design itself, without any context.” Obsessed with the stories behind great music covers and frustrated that he could not find any good resources on design and music collaborations, Virgile came up with the idea to start this kind of project on his own. “You can only find some stories about Peter Saville’s greatest work or some others from Hipgnosis but that’s about it, and that’s not even that easy to find”, Virgile explains, “Why did Saville avoid putting any band or title infos on the front cover of Unknown Pleasures? That’s the kind of story that interrogates me. Graphic design is aesthetics based on context. The problem with nowadays moodboards is that we are putting away the context. If we were able to put it in front of the design stories, that would probably avoid any kind of rip-off issues.”
In order to give an insight into these processes and collect collaborative practices between music and design, Syn1+1 works more as an archive, than a music news magazine. “We focus on a visual piece like an album cover, a clip etc. and then we do an interview of both sides of the collaboration: the visual artist and the musician”, Virgile explains us, “The journal splits in two: visual interview on one side, musical interview on the other side, both confronting each other on a single spread.” At the end of the interviews, a visual map shows their references, like clips, covers, music and more. “It looks like a bad Konbini interview but I think music is about sharing and discovering new things”, Virgile jokes, while telling us more about the overall goal concerning this project, “I would have loved to get such context and stories behind records I love, because it’s more revealing to me than just aesthetics and just the music. Music and visuals are complementary and there are processes that enhance the whole narrative of the record. This is basically content I would love to read myself. So I hope in the future people would find some of these rare copies just to get to know a little more about the records they love.”
The first issue of Syn1+1 features a “cryptic” editorial by Etienne Hervy, a “very important person” in Virgile’s career. “He’s the one who told me crazy stories on design processes – stories I couldn’t find anywhere. It is an honor to have him in the first issue. I couldn’t see anybody else doing it. This editorial is actually about catalog numbers from records he likes”, Virgile states. Apart from that, the publication presents the collaboration between Trevor Powers and Baptiste Bernazeau on Trevor’s album “Mulberry Violence”, as well as the Nantes based music label Arpège and their graphic designers Quentin Coulombier and Corentin Billot. “I knew they had a lot to tell, about more than just aesthetics”, Virgile reflects, telling us the reasons he chose the featured artists in specific, “They are friends, they have amazing work and it is worth being shared to the world.”
After getting in contact with them and working on interesting and pertinent questions for the interviews, Virgile started to work on the visual language by collecting references and finding an aesthetic that would fit to the concept. The publication is designed to contrast the different interviews, with imagery of the collaborations and their process at the center. The visual map at the end of each interview feels more like a moodboard, collecting references and influences of the presented artists. The cover has been riso-printed in collaboration with Quintal Atelier, a graphic design and riso studio founded by Oscar Ginzer and Alexandra Pascual. “The title font is a custom font I made based on the logo, which represent a plus. I tried to merge this experimental font with a more Swiss, functional style, which gives a specific tone to the whole layout”, Virgile explains. His extraordinary attention to detail and his typographic finesse is unfailing across the publication, resulting in a well-balanced and contemporary design.
Describing his creative development as a “long process”, Virgile always tries to keep a balance between well-paid projects and self-initiated, personal work. Apart from Syn1+1, he has worked on a bundle of new projects and collaborations this year, among them the design for Oklou’s new album “Galore”, his typeface “DaVinci” and the art direction for Lyon based label Comic Sans Records. Focusing on his interest in the relation between music and design, Syncope “is meant to be a lifetime project”, he tells us, “So obviously there will be some next issues with great people and hopefully a second EP as soon as possible.”