Designing VICIOUS/ Behind-the-scenes with 7D8

Founded in 2012 by David Young and Kent Miller, the independent design studio 7D8 makes sure to emphasize its multidisciplinary work. The pair’s creative direction and design work range anywhere from brand identity to print collateral to video to environmental signage and interior design. Notably, 7D8 conceptualized the clean look and functional feel for the new Holladay coffee shop, 3 Cups, and also collaborated with V. Project for Mall, an experimental exploration of retail that showcased pop-up shops and ventured into new formats for fashion, publishing, and more.

umoca_3Last year, UMOCA approached 7D8 to take over the collateral design for the museum’s annual gala, the Diamond Horseshoe Roundup. Rather than running with a graphic cliché for a western theme, 7D8 decided to do something more unexpected, bizarre, and funny. They dressed a horse up in sparkly stilettos and a wig for a part-glam, part-kitsch photo-shoot. Their fresh approach to the project won 7D8 an ADDY Award from the American Advertising Foundation as well as an Award of Excellence from Communication Arts.

“We’re passionate about staying small because it allows us to do more creative work—like our work for UMOCA—and we value the direct lines of communication and collaboration. It’s feels more personal and human. That’s our approach and the gist of our studio,” explained Kent Miller, Senior Designer and a co-founder of 7D8.

For 7D8, incorporating graphic design with UMOCA’s mission is a way by which to enrich the community. “Promoting UMOCA is something we get passionate about because we feel Salt Lake City could use that type of culture mix, of contemporary art and design,” said Miller. “This is an opportunity for us to create some less traditional graphic design.”

This year, UMOCA’s gala is VICIOUS, a contemporary take on the punk-rock lifestyle. To prepare, 7D8 researched old punk-posted bills and posters, which were chock full of typography and cut-and-paste ransom note types. “It’s interesting to look at how people will communicate when they haven’t been to school to study design and learn more dogmatic approaches. They instead come up with fresh and unexpected compositions that actually inspire a lot of contemporary design across the board.”

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Of course, 7D8 didn’t want to simply regurgitate the concert posters they were looking at. Rather, they aimed to elevate the text-heavy designs into a poster that is both beautiful to keep and reflective of UMOCA and the gala. Focusing on the idea of overprinting, 7D8 overlaid metallic silver type on the black and white, tidying up the original in-your-face punk style for a more contemporary and chic take.  7D8 is also working on spatial designs for The Complex, where VICIOUS will be held, which will feature simple but impactful graphic explorations of text with large vinyl wrapping around corners and on the floor.

Everything that 7D8 does ties back to the impact of visual design.

“One thing we think Salt Lake would benefit from is more of an integration between design and art,” said Miller. “We have a lot of designers doing client-based work and a great art scene with exciting contemporary art. There’s not a lot of middle ground, though. We’re intrigued about bridging that gap, which involves designers doing self-initiated work without clients, and which is why we like being around artists—that’s what they do all the time.”

Miller continued, “The more art can seep into everyday life, the more it will affect design, and we think the more interesting our city and culture will be.”

Tickets and sponsorships for VICIOUS are available here. To learn more about 7D8 and take a look at the studio’s portfolio, visit their website.