Paul Marcus Fuog, of CO-OÃÂP, is a graphic designer whose vision pervades the skeleton of an idea through to the expressive capabilities of design's intersection with art. An approach that beguiles with surprising and delightful detail, Paul believes in a working life beyond his studio, and even outside his own country, seeking the unfamiliar as an educational, influential tool to the progress of his working practice. Having worked and collaborated around the world, including joining Stefan Sagmeister on his Indonesian sabbatical in 2009, Paul now focuses on the potential of experimental, open-ended design outcomes and exposed creative processes, that have become the acclaimed signifiers of his work.
The studio is deliberately small for that reason - to allow flexibility, for me to be able to travel and do other things. It is only myself and Uriah Gray. To travel, to change your location and work from different environments is a reaction to complacency. It can become difficult to notice change and new things within familiar surrounds. Travel is good for opening your eyes, reinvigorating you, making everything new again. Last year I was in New York and Los Angeles for 6 months working on a few different projects-
Both. I worked with a collaborator Karim Zariffa on a cover for the New York Times magazine. After that I worked on a few projects with Axel Peemoeller. These collaborations were the impetuous for going over there, but while there, I tried to extend my stay for as long as possible to focus on personal work. This time was valuable for me - it allowed me to generate new ideas, reflect, think and contemplate. It's the learning from these types of sabbaticals that shape your future thinking. The time in Indonesia with Stefan was an opportunity to be completely removed from the normal working space - the bookstores and the art galleries in Ubud were awful, but all that was a fortunate happenstance because it allowed me to draw inspiration from alternate sources and gave me time to immerse myself in my work. Right now, we are running the studio at about 60% client work, and 40% self-initiated work.
It is - but I started out in visual arts, then moved into graphic design. I was initially doing sculpture and drawing and I think it's more to do with still having this desire to explore my own interests and personal expression - which isn't as appropriate with commissioned work when you are talking through your client.
It's all experience, it's the feeling of being uncomfortable. Removing yourself from your day to day comforts is very confronting but also very stimulating.
Yes - and that feeling of comfort is often why we produce mediocre work. It's all a little too safe. It's good to feel unsure and experience unfamiliarity.
Not always. A few of the projects I am working on now are more personal than collaborative. The things I am examining are a reaction to design being a problem solving exercise - because I don't always have the answers. It's nice to just pose or formulate a question and discuss it - and I think that's more what I am interested in with my personal work.
Not really - the work still has graphic sensibilities but there is an artistic energy because it is exploring myself, and my personal experiences.
Yes I think so - I think I have always believed in the idea of play and experimentation, and that is something that is inherent in all the self initiated work.
We look to build a framework and allow a part of the outcome to be informed by intuition, experimentation and play.
The concept and idea generation is research-based, but when you are in the creating phase, you need to be able to use and trust your intuition. And that's where the experimentation comes into our work. In recent work we have done, like the identity for the Victorian College of the Arts, it was about building something that was dynamic, something that could evolve into different forms. In this project we set up a framework for the client that actually gave them the opportunity to experiment and explore. I like that we didn't provide a final answer.
Yes - and through their experimentation it can take a shape that we couldn't predict, but still within the framework that was set.
One of the projects I am doing now is Still Life In Motion. Again, it's setting up the parameters and celebrating the chain of events linked to what might happen when these objects and materials move and interact with one another. It's a similar medium to the paint and fruit work - exploring a series of 'still life' works, which is an interest that comes from studying sculpture. I still enjoy playing with form, tactility... The other project I am working on at the moment is a series on hard rubbish - re-ordering and re-contextualising hard rubbish - again in a sculptural form. It's something I have investigated through commercial work also, like the identity for the Rooftop Cinema. I like running a studio that doesn't have a distinctive line between the commercial work and the self-initiated work, that has a blurred boundary, and there is an exposure of the process, so it attracts those who think similarly.
I think it started when I had gained some confidence in what I was doing, When I first moved into design, it wasn't a natural transition - it was a reaction to art - I wanted something more pragmatic, more vocational, maybe I was struggling with art being so open and perhaps not feeling like I had much to say. And now I am more comfortable with the idea of examining and expressing my own thoughts. It was about 3 years ago when I went to Indonesia, and that was a changing moment - my thinking, my way of working had become tired and predictable and I needed to shake it up. I had been working 6 years at that point - not that long but long enough to feel bored in what I was doing. It really has been the last 2 - 3 years where I feel I have changed the way I work and my approach. But certainly confidence and experience has a lot to do with it. I have learnt a lot from those I have collaborated with. It's all still a learning and evolving process. But I guess it will always be.
Photography by Paul Fuog and Double Days.
The referrals began with Leah Jackson who referred Stephanie Downey who referred Chris Hill who referred Jonathan Wallace who referred Dominic Hofstede, who referred Paul Fuog, who referred Ben Edwards and Juliet Moore, who referred Ryan Russel and Byron George, who referred Dianna Snape, who finished the stream with Jessica Brent. We also introduced Matt Hinkley who referred Warren Taylor who referred Yanni Florence, who referred Liv Barrett, who referred Fayen d'Evie, who referred Masato Takasaka, who referred Madeline Kidd, who referred Meredith Turnbull, who referred Nella Themelios.
In May 2012, we began a new Melbourne stream with Oslo Davis. He then referred Alexander Stitt, who referred Mimmo Cozzolino, who referred Fysh Rutherford, who referred Simon and Jenna Hipgrave.
In March 2012, we went to Austin for SXSW, where the daily referrals began with Sonnenzimmer who referred Landland and Hometapes who referred Zorch, who referred Brian Maclaskey, who referred Bobby Dixon, who referred Brian Phillips, who, through some auspicious coincidence, turned the SXSW referral interview project into a perfect circle, by referring us back to Sonnenzimmer. Then there was a giveaway to celebrate.