Jakob Straub (*1975 in Berlin) completed his studies in communications design at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin in 2002 at the top of his class. 2000: worked at Segura Inc, a design firm in Chicago; 2002–2004: Orecchio Acerbo design company in Rome; 2005–2008: Lohmüller advertising agency, Berlin. Works in the fields of graphic design, photography, and font design. Lives and works in Berlin and Rome.
Design and Attitude
“It’s no longer enough simply to show something. Packaging is a lie. Everything looks good today.” (Otl Aicher)
“A book is not an item that can be altered at one’s discretion: the eye and hand determine size and form,” wrote Kurt Weidemann, one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century, in his Ansichten über Schrift und Typographie (Aspects of fonts and typography). Without a doubt,Jakob Straub’s illustrated book Schatten der Macht is designed with this in mind. With refined typography and design, stitched pages, and printed in Duotone, the book was released in 2006 and almost immediately received an award for being one of the “most beautiful Swiss books.” The book was based on Straub’s graduate work, which helped him to take a degree in communications studies at the top of his class in 2002. Straub himself also took the photographs. They are of Nazi architecture in Berlin “in their ambiguous appearance: on one side, their unremarkable, everyday look and their eclectic, pluralistic style, which makes them difficult to identify now that the swastikas and the eagles have been removed; and on the other, their former ideological function as a theatrical stage for political power.”
Straub had already dealt with the Nazi era in an earlier book project in 1999, in which he photographed the Italian embassy in Berlin before it was restored. Representing fascist Italy, the building was erected between 1938 and 1943 by the architect Friedrich Hetzelt, under the supervision of Albert Speer. In 2007 Straub photographed inscriptions on public buildings from the Mussolini era in Rome, devoting himself to the contents of the messages as well as to the design of the lettering.
Besides book design, freelance photography, and commissioned photography, Straub—who oscillates between graphic design and branding—also designs corporate identities for many companies. As a typographer he develops fonts (available through his webshop) in which one can see the designer’s passion and outstanding feel for typography.
At the intersection of (photo)art and design is Roma Rotunda, a project Straub worked on between 2007 and 2011. Using an analogue, medium-format camera he photographed selected Roman domes from all historical epochs. As a designer, he was less interested in the buildings’ art historical significance than in their formal aesthetics. He shot the pictures of these round structures from the same camera angle every time, but with different exposure times. Then he took individual sections of the photographs and digitally processed them to create a new “neutral” whole. Thus, Straub creates a view that could be compared to the two-dimensional design—the architect’s original idea, which he may have at one time drawn on a drafting table. This reinforces what Mark Gisbourne calls the “essential and ideal nature” of the domes. A brochure designed by Straub joins thirty-six photographs of the circular structures, which look almost like “serialized mandalas”: dome after dome, eighteen meters.
March 16, 2015 Stefanie Gommel