rick valicenti (3st) interview
original content
jan 29, 2013
rick valicenti (3st) interview


rick valicenti portrait

 

3st founder, rick valicenti (RV) tells designboom (DB) about his work…

 

DB: what did you do before you founded 3st?
RV: my real on the job training as a designer followed an MFA in photography
and two years of agency production work at bruce beck design.

 

I opened the design practice in 1981 with a most un-inspired title ‘r. valicenti design’.
In 1988, I was compelled to change the direction towards creating ‘art with function’,
and was seeking out a new moniker. while in correspondence with phillipe starck,
he let a typo slip (’3st’ instead of ’3rd’) , which inspired the expression I was looking for:
‘thirst’.

 

 

set of four posters for the 10th annual chicago creative exposition, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

DB: how many people work at 3st and how do you divide your workload?
RV: the emphasis of the design is led by myself, john pobojewski, and bud rodecker.
there is collaboration between the three of us, but the individual client interaction
is usually personalized by one of us. five other talented folks also reside within our studio,
from graphic designers to industrial designers to musicians to programmers.

 

DB: which have been your most significant and satisfying projects to date and why?
RV: for me, ultimately, the answer is personal!
for significance, I feel the FLUIDITY identity seems to speak on the spirit of invention
that lies within our studio. we were tasked with discovering a meaningful expression of water,
and ultimately found that it was not one expression but an infinite number that were one
with the subject matter.

 

as such, we created a piece of software to generate expressions of the mark that aligned
with water’s dynamics, from ‘refracted’ to ‘rippled.’ no two marks are ever the same,
much like the medium itself. of course, this becomes evident on the website and in other materials…

 

for personal satisfaction, last year’s self-initiated design intervention/exhibition
ARK OF THE ARCHETYPES, THE PROJECTION OF POLITICS, I painted portraits
of president obama with images from pop culture, expressing 50 unique ‘archetypes’
that the american public demands of our leader-in-chief. it’s the sum of these impressions
that paints the portrait of US. we trust our elected individuals to be of the people, for the people.

 

as for ‘why,’ it just felt like a meaningful thing to do!

 

 

 

‘fluidity’ corporate identity system, 2012

 

 

 

public design intervention
inland steel lobby, chicago, 2012
the ark of the archetypes, the projection of politics

 

 

public design intervention
inland steel lobby, chicago, 2012
the ark of the archetypes, the projection of politics

 

 

DB: what is your favorite type of project?
RV: I personally enjoy working across all media platforms and at many different scales.
My least favorite projects are the ones that look and feel like those that I have
already been engaged. I prefer those that challenge us to present a window to a solution
that fuses intelligent problem solving with the surprise of the unexpected.
I suppose that is why the portfolio looks the way it does.

 

DB: who or what would you say influences you the most?
RV: the tradition of graphic design is peppered with designers who led studio practices
field by curiosity, play, and invention. on any given day I am inspired by the corpus of
laszlo moholy nagy, herbert bayer, april greiman, etc.

 

DB: besides your professional work – what do you have a passion for and why?
RV: I love listening to all kinds of music that lives on the edge of its time and place,
however, I never remember who the artists are!
at the end of last year I was in the front rows for cat power, okkyung lee,  
and david behrman. next month in chicago I will see the tame impalas.
and a few weeks ago while in LA I caught a john cale performance.
needless to say, I am just curious and like the night out.

 

 

obama on the occasion of the nobel peace prize
promotional alphabet book, 11 x 14”, 2011
stop the violence

 

 

 

 

archeworks contribution to the 2010 venice bienalle
3-minute animated video and sound design
give gather grow

 

gather, give, grow: archeworks MFC from thirst / a design collaborative on vimeo

 

 

columbia college media production center, 2010

 

 


columbia college media production center

under-stair lounge, 2010
fictitious TV test patterns

 

 

enforcer- type manipulation
typeforce catalog forward, 2010

 

 

identity logotype for wright auctions, 2008

 

 

business card for wright auctions

 

 

DB: what is the best piece of advice you have ever been given
something that I always remember was told to me by morton goldsholl,
a chicago design legend and student of moholy nagy’s first class at the new bauhaus:

 

on a rainy night some 30 years ago I drove to mort’s office to meet the man with a friend,
michael glass, and together we stood soaked, knocking at his front door.
when he answered, we were both completely tongue tied.
out of panic, I asked, ‘if you could share any wisdom with two young designers what would it be?’  
mort answered with, ‘I have three words for you both – take a risk.’
then he closed the door, and we left!

 

DB: what is the worst piece of advice you have ever been given
In my early days of trying to figure out how the design practice worked, I was often told:
‘DON’T BE SO CREATIVE.’

 

 

 


abacus – representative project official selection sundance film festival

limited edition commemorative poster series, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

showboat commemorative poster for lyric opera of chicago
2012

 

 

‘outlaws + icons’ commemorative poster for gravity free international design conference
2012

 

 

 lecture series poster for the illinois institute of technology, college of architecture

 

 

 

the loeb fellowship, harvard university
commemorative poster
2007

 

 

the loeb fellowship, harvard university
commemorative poster
2009

 

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