PaperSpecsGallery.com Presents: Desert X Invitation
Throughout history, philosophers, artists, and visionaries have all taken to the desert in search of a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them. Tapping into that tradition, the biennial Desert X contemporary art exhibition in Southern California’s Coachella Valley entices artists and other creatives to explore the convergence of art and place. The invitation for the 2019 event that Kohler crafted for some of its clients as part of its Kohler EXP program drove that point home with impressive precision.
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Focusing on the site-specific nature of the art installations at Desert X, each invitation, designed by CO Projects, consisted of a linen-wrapped box containing something very special inside. Constructed like a matchbox, the outer part consists of chipboard wrapped in Verona linen, with X’s and the Kohler EXP logo foil stamped on the surface by Premier Press. (P-Dinh Finishing Bindery handled the binding.) A tug of a yellow ribbon frees the drawer from the box.
Inside, I’m greeted by a Field Notes-like notebook boasting a cover offset printed and foil stamped by Scout Books that repeats the gridline and X patterns found on the box, all superimposed over an image of the desert terrain. Removing the notebook from the drawer finally reveals the heart of this intriguing little scavenger hunt.
For it is here that we find the invitation itself: a cardboard compartment made of pale yellow 80 lb. Neenah Royal Sundance Cover, featuring a die-cut window in the shape of that ubiquitous “X” through which I can glimpse...something. The area above the compartment only heightens my curiosity. “This artifact has been collected from a specific site in the Coachella Valley,” it explains. “This is your piece of the desert. Use the coordinates on the card for the location of its origin, near one of the stops on your exploration.”
Excitedly I open the compartment to discover a large stone inside. And beneath that, sure enough, are the GPS coordinates of the place near the Desert X exhibition from which the rock was retrieved. Plugging those into Google Earth actually gives me a satellite view of that precise area, making this one of the more interesting marriages of print and digital I’ve seen recently.
"The Kohler EXP program is engineered to inspire their clients through trips to see art, architecture, and events such as Desert X," CO Projects Creative Director/Partner Marc Cozza explains.
“The invitation set the stage for this event – up-level, high-touch and interactive,” he observes. “Guests stated that they knew they were in for an experience. Since many can only choose a few events per year to make, they had no hesitation about attending ours based on the itinerary and unique invitation. Many checked their coordinates throughout the trip. The Desert X team was impressed with the work that went into these.”
One of the lessons CO Projects learned from the project was just how difficult it is to make linen boxes, Marc confides. It takes “a lot of time to bind and fabricate. I couldn’t have done it without an experienced printer and bindery.”
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.