In much of the world, the summer holiday is a sacred ritual with the goal of maximizing relaxation and overcoming the stresses of late capitalist working life in a very limited period of time. Going on vacation implies leaving home and traveling to holiday destinations that reflect our desires and offer all the amenities we need to achieve this goal. What happens if you change the setting, take away the most essential aspect: the distant place with which our desires are inextricably linked, and simply stay at home?
The Paris-based graphic design practice ZAINA launched an initiative to explore this idea further. ZAINA, formed in 2019 by designers Patrice Barnabé and Martí Palau, invited fifteen photographers from fifteen cities to choose an unusual destination for their holidays: their homes.
In the creative initiative “Vacanza in casa”, these photographers were asked to document their immediate surroundings during the COVID-19 pandemic. From Cape Town to Marrakech, Vancouver to Moscow, and more, many turned their apartments into impromptu workplaces. “We were left wondering: How would you go on vacation within the narrow confines of your home? That question led us to launch this non-profit creative initiative, challenging a selected group of photographers from all corners of the world during lockdown to grab their cameras and go on holiday… at home. From their own living rooms, windows and rooftops, they captured images that seem to encapsulate a unique and extraordinary moment in time,“ ZAINA tell us.
Each photo is printed on a postcard, the traditional format for short status reports on progress towards ultimate relaxation. “Our aim was to echo a summer holiday’s aesthetics, so we found inspiration by looking at holiday postcards,“ ZAINA explain. Each postcard describes where and when the picture was taken, along with a caption written by the photographer. All photographers received copies of their postcards so they could share them with others as a souvenir of their unusual holidays.
“We also designed a symbol that embodies the concept of the project: it depicts a romantic horizon whilst its bottom counterpart appears in the shape of a virus, acting as a distorted reflection of the sunset and expressing a sense of duality,“ they tell us. The postcards are made of contrasting materials and textures that find a balance in the combination of high gloss, varnished papers, and uncoated boards with natural, tactile surfaces. For the creative concept, ZAINA worked closely with Gianluca Monaco while the printing was done in collaboration with Grafiche Antiga. For the fonts, they collaborated with Swiss Typefaces.
The resulting photographs capture neighboring balconies, the own living room, or the colorfulness found in a collection of kitchen towels. The blue-faced portrait of Kata Geibl, seems to play with the urge to get tanned during your summer vacation. Others, like Clementine Passet’s shot of homemade pasta hanging to dry in her small Parisian kitchen, are reminiscent of something you would expect to see in an Italian seaside town. At the same time, they illustrate the emergence of sourdoughism in the wake of the pandemic: Those niche hobbies that can be practiced at home and have spread throughout the Western world.
In a world where every motif is only a plane ride away, “Vacanza in casa“ illustrates the infinite number of motifs to be discovered in the limited space of a flat, revealing new forms of creativity emerging from the pandemic. “We realized that when an event impacts humanity on a global scale, our differences fade away and we remind ourselves how interconnected and interdependent we are with each other and with nature,“ ZAINA tell us.
Apart from creative initiatives like “Vacanza in casa”, ZAINA engages in projects for a diverse range of international clients across cultural and commercial sectors — from artists and individuals to businesses and institutions — creating brand identities, campaigns, books, catalogs, exhibitions, websites, and digital presence. Patrice and Martí have known each other for about ten years. They met while studying for their bachelor’s in Design at Elisava, in Barcelona. After graduating in 2013, they worked for different design studios and creative agencies. After a few years in London, they decided to join forces in Paris and launch ZAINA as their own creative practice. Currently, they are busy working on two exhibitions in Paris that will launch later this year, as well as printing a photography book. They are also working on the design of several identity and packaging projects, and on a digital campaign to promote a building realized by Pritzker Prize winners RCR Arquitectes.
Vacanza in casa
Kent Andreasen, Marco Argüello, Enric Badrinas, Céline Bodin, Jennifer Cheng, Volker Conradus, Kata Geibl, Cleo Goossens, Luca Grottoli, Nanna Heitmann, Olga de la Iglesia, Matthieu Litt, Clementine Passet, Robin Stein and Ismail Zaidy.