Laura Hilbert’s graphic design looks digital, until you realise it’s made of clay

Laura Hilbert’s graphic design looks digital, until you realise it’s made of clay

Here at It’s Nice That, we love when work that looks like one thing when it’s actually something else, and a unique creative process. So when we saw a recent identity by Laura Hilbert for the annual group exhibition 23. HfG-Rundgang, we were instantly on board. The title of the design work, Hands On!, tells you most that you need to know; in collaboration with designer Sarah Stendel, Laura aimed to build an identity you can “feel and build with your hands”. “In the end, we decided to use the technique of printing on clay,” Laura tells It’s Nice That. Every part of the visual identity is made out of screen-printed clay, deformed, photographed and digitally edited. The result is viscerally smushed, pressed, pulled, thumbed and full of streaky ink – in short, fantastic.

Held at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach, Rundgang was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and was postponed again in 2021 till later in the year. For the identity marking its IRL return, Laura and Sarah wanted to counteract the overwhelming presence of digital spaces in our lives during lockdown. “We started to think of aspects that we missed about real life exhibitions and collected them,” Laura says. “Among other aspects, we finally focused on the lack of haptics and gave the Rundgang the motto ‘Hands On’.” To reference the notion of touch, they shaped the screen-printed clay with different materials like wooden blocks, producing around 50 physical objects. These works gave one-dimensional exhibition assets – including invitation cards, billboards, and posters – “a three-dimensionality”, says Laura. Although, the process was not without its problems; “the analogue process is very time-consuming,” she adds, “but it strengthens your decision making and leads to unexpected results that wouldn’t have been possible digitally.”

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