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Inventory Form & Content

  • Words and Images by: Tag Christof
  • File Under: Life
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Designers Adam Michaels and Shannon Harvey officially opened their brand new practice, Inventory Form & Content, IN-FO.CO for short, inside Richard Neutra’s one-time office in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood last month.

They are ideal stewards for this gem of L.A. architecture and are set to inject the space with a fair bit of new creative energy thanks not only to their studio but with a planned slate of exhibitions, lectures, and events.

IN-FO.CO encompasses the established publishing imprint, Inventory Press, and also comes with a big baked-in legacy, as it is superseding their former practice, Project Projects. The work of the two designers is well-known for its cultural incisiveness and managing to always bridge the gap between beautiful and cerebral. Some of their most recent work includes a book of Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth photographs and a positively gorgeous Ellsworth Kelly monograph for Phaidon. They’re also hard at work on the graphics, identity, and a book for “Dimensions of Citizenship,” the upcoming U.S. Pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennial.

Adam and Shannon warmly welcomed me into their new digs shortly after IN-FO.CO opened up shop. I had the run of the place with a camera for a bit, and then we talked about moving to L.A., design heroes, and what we might expect from their new endeavor.

So, welcome to L.A.! How are you finding it so far? Do you find the design scene as vibrant as New York’s?
Adam Michaels: Thanks! We’re thrilled to be here. All has truly been a pleasure; on the most basic level, it’s now February and it was 80°F today. Amazing. The day-to-day here has been remarkably pleasant, with great food, sunshine, mountain views on the way to the studio, and so on. The design scene is geographically a bit further flung than in NYC, but all that we’ve encountered has been consistently impressive.
What drew you here?
Shannon Harvey: L.A. already has such an incredible history of art and design, and over the past few years there has been a real influx of creative energy on the west coast. We were attracted to so many things (in addition to the weather!) — there’s an incredible creative energy here, and also much more space to create.

Adam: Also, it felt like the right time for a change after living in NYC for nearly 17 years. It comes up a lot in conversation how NYC and L.A. are polar opposites, yin and yang, etc.—a set of clichés that actually hold a lot of truth. So, after so many NYC years, it feels very healthy and balancing to make a shift in this direction (also speaking as someone who grew up around Chicago, a city that has a range of both east and west coast tendencies).
So, welcome to L.A.! How are you finding it so far? Do you find the design scene as vibrant as New York’s?
Adam Michaels: Thanks! We’re thrilled to be here. All has truly been a pleasure; on the most basic level, it’s now February and it was 80°F today. Amazing. The day-to-day here has been remarkably pleasant, with great food, sunshine, mountain views on the way to the studio, and so on. The design scene is geographically a bit further flung than in NYC, but all that we’ve encountered has been consistently impressive.
What drew you here?
Shannon Harvey: L.A. already has such an incredible history of art and design, and over the past few years there has been a real influx of creative energy on the west coast. We were attracted to so many things (in addition to the weather!) — there’s an incredible creative energy here, and also much more space to create.

Adam: Also, it felt like the right time for a change after living in NYC for nearly 17 years. It comes up a lot in conversation how NYC and L.A. are polar opposites, yin and yang, etc.—a set of clichés that actually hold a lot of truth. So, after so many NYC years, it feels very healthy and balancing to make a shift in this direction (also speaking as someone who grew up around Chicago, a city that has a range of both east and west coast tendencies).
Let’s back up a few steps: why did each of you get into design? Do you have any design heroes whose work has had a enduring influence on your own?
Shannon: I studied Architecture first, but was always more interested in how architectural ideas are communicated than the day-to-day practice of architecture itself, and ended up studying graphic design. After a stint working designing exhibitions at OMA in Rotterdam I returned to complete my Masters in Architecture in Montreal, where I was fortunate to become enmeshed in the world of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. My design heroes are many and are especially those who have managed to integrate, or work across those two worlds, which is not always easy.

Adam: My interest in design first originated in music and its packaging, starting as a kid going through my parents’ hippie record and paperback book collections. These interests intensified through my involvement in the Chicago punk scene, which eventually led me to art school in Minneapolis in the mid-’90s. In terms of design (and publishing and etc.) heroes, it’s hard to pick just a few, but here are some (with a focus on early-to mid-20th-century generations—rather than my own, or those directly preceding): Jan Tschichold, Max Bill, László Moholy-Nagy, Willem Sandberg, Bruno Munari, Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, Hansjörg Mayer, Sol LeWitt, Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel, Muriel Cooper, Rudy de Harak, and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon. Relatedly, SST Records, Touch and Go, and Dischord Records were each a major influence, as was the output of numerous other independent record labels (and the general idea of a label/publisher reliably putting forth disparate titles that still legibly form as an overall sensibility).
Let’s back up a few steps: why did each of you get into design? Do you have any design heroes whose work has had a enduring influence on your own?
Shannon: I studied Architecture first, but was always more interested in how architectural ideas are communicated than the day-to-day practice of architecture itself, and ended up studying graphic design. After a stint working designing exhibitions at OMA in Rotterdam I returned to complete my Masters in Architecture in Montreal, where I was fortunate to become enmeshed in the world of the Canadian Centre for Architecture. My design heroes are many and are especially those who have managed to integrate, or work across those two worlds, which is not always easy.

Adam: My interest in design first originated in music and its packaging, starting as a kid going through my parents’ hippie record and paperback book collections. These interests intensified through my involvement in the Chicago punk scene, which eventually led me to art school in Minneapolis in the mid-’90s. In terms of design (and publishing and etc.) heroes, it’s hard to pick just a few, but here are some (with a focus on early-to mid-20th-century generations—rather than my own, or those directly preceding): Jan Tschichold, Max Bill, László Moholy-Nagy, Willem Sandberg, Bruno Munari, Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, Hansjörg Mayer, Sol LeWitt, Quentin Fiore and Jerome Agel, Muriel Cooper, Rudy de Harak, and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon. Relatedly, SST Records, Touch and Go, and Dischord Records were each a major influence, as was the output of numerous other independent record labels (and the general idea of a label/publisher reliably putting forth disparate titles that still legibly form as an overall sensibility).

 

“We really like that IN-FO.CO sounds like a public utility company, in the business of providing knowledge (i.e., an Information Company), which is in a way the essence of what we do.”

Spread from Museum of Capitalism, edited by FICTILIS and published by Inventory Press

So, Inventory Form & Content and IN-FO.CO are both pretty hard to Google. Is that intentional? There’s certainly something to be said about being findable by only people in the know…
Shannon: Part of the idea with “IN-FO.CO” is that is actually doesn’t need to be google-able… it’s a URL! We knew from the start that we wanted a name explaining how our work both includes and extends beyond form-making, and we also wanted to directly connect our design practice to our publishing company, Inventory Press. We like the name Inventory Form & Content very much, but it’s bit of a mouthful for everyday usage. Thus, IN-FO.CO was born by combining the first two letters of each of the words of the name, with some quirky punctuation added to meet WWW-mandated requirements. We really like that IN-FO.CO sounds like a public utility company, in the business of providing knowledge (i.e., an Information Company), which is in a way the essence of what we do.
Any exciting work in the pipeline you’d like to share?
Shannon: A few upcoming projects include: exhibition, graphic, web and book design for the upcoming US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. We’re also publishing the catalogue, which explores design and citizenship, a pertinent topic in the current political climate… we’re also working on two publications for MoMA with the artist Adrian Piper that will accompany a major upcoming retrospective of her work. I’ve also been working on an education guide for the Marciano Art Foundation that is geared towards kids and teens. This is really my favorite type of project because we are conceptualizing, writing, and designing the guide—a fun example of form and content truly coming together.
So, Inventory Form & Content and IN-FO.CO are both pretty hard to Google. Is that intentional? There’s certainly something to be said about being findable by only people in the know…
Shannon: Part of the idea with “IN-FO.CO” is that is actually doesn’t need to be google-able… it’s a URL! We knew from the start that we wanted a name explaining how our work both includes and extends beyond form-making, and we also wanted to directly connect our design practice to our publishing company, Inventory Press. We like the name Inventory Form & Content very much, but it’s bit of a mouthful for everyday usage. Thus, IN-FO.CO was born by combining the first two letters of each of the words of the name, with some quirky punctuation added to meet WWW-mandated requirements. We really like that IN-FO.CO sounds like a public utility company, in the business of providing knowledge (i.e., an Information Company), which is in a way the essence of what we do.
Any exciting work in the pipeline you’d like to share?
Shannon: A few upcoming projects include: exhibition, graphic, web and book design for the upcoming US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. We’re also publishing the catalogue, which explores design and citizenship, a pertinent topic in the current political climate… we’re also working on two publications for MoMA with the artist Adrian Piper that will accompany a major upcoming retrospective of her work. I’ve also been working on an education guide for the Marciano Art Foundation that is geared towards kids and teens. This is really my favorite type of project because we are conceptualizing, writing, and designing the guide—a fun example of form and content truly coming together.
This new space is beyond cool: Richard Neutra’s former office in Silver Lake, shared with the Neutra Institute Museum. His son Dion is even your landlord! How’d you manage to swing such a fantastic spot?
Adam: We had been aware of the building for years, driving past it on Glendale Blvd. countless times. So when an old friend of mine, Ed Faktorovich—whose real estate company does property management for Dion Neutra at a few locations—listed the space as available, Shannon and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. It definitely helped to approach the situation through a friend; also Dion was enthusiastic to bring us in as we’re working in design, and it turns out we introduced him to some architecture curators via the references on our rental application. Also, the others who were interested in the space apparently only wished to proceed in tandem with a massive overhaul of the interior; whereas we understood that it was important to Dion to essentially keep all as is.
Like all good architecture, the place has some endearing quirks: a bank of vintage blue UV glass, an elaborate system of mechanical sunshade louvers, a lone bare lightbulb above your workspace that flashes when someone goes into the restroom… Are you getting along with the building so far?
Adam: Yes, we’re definitely getting along. The details around us are fascinating, and it’s fantastic to work every day in this 1950s modern building.

Shannon: We’re getting along quite well so far. A coffee in our reading/meeting room up front has been a great way to start the day. At the center of the structure is a fairly large open space, where the drafting tables used to be set up when it was being used as an architecture office. This area is occasionally used by Dion as a community gallery, which brings some life into the space, but otherwise is empty most of the time and affords us some rather generous breathing room for new ideas.
This new space is beyond cool: Richard Neutra’s former office in Silver Lake, shared with the Neutra Institute Museum. His son Dion is even your landlord! How’d you manage to swing such a fantastic spot?
Adam: We had been aware of the building for years, driving past it on Glendale Blvd. countless times. So when an old friend of mine, Ed Faktorovich—whose real estate company does property management for Dion Neutra at a few locations—listed the space as available, Shannon and I immediately jumped at the opportunity. It definitely helped to approach the situation through a friend; also Dion was enthusiastic to bring us in as we’re working in design, and it turns out we introduced him to some architecture curators via the references on our rental application. Also, the others who were interested in the space apparently only wished to proceed in tandem with a massive overhaul of the interior; whereas we understood that it was important to Dion to essentially keep all as is.
Like all good architecture, the place has some endearing quirks: a bank of vintage blue UV glass, an elaborate system of mechanical sunshade louvers, a lone bare lightbulb above your workspace that flashes when someone goes into the restroom… Are you getting along with the building so far?
Adam: Yes, we’re definitely getting along. The details around us are fascinating, and it’s fantastic to work every day in this 1950s modern building.

Shannon: We’re getting along quite well so far. A coffee in our reading/meeting room up front has been a great way to start the day. At the center of the structure is a fairly large open space, where the drafting tables used to be set up when it was being used as an architecture office. This area is occasionally used by Dion as a community gallery, which brings some life into the space, but otherwise is empty most of the time and affords us some rather generous breathing room for new ideas.

 

 

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