Manhattan-based Project Projects may be a graphic design studio, but it works in all dimensions, on the page and off. Founded by Prem Krishnamurthy and Adam Michaels in 2004, the firm designs everything from books and architectural signage to websites and museum exhibitions.
When Krishnamurthy and Michaels met through a friend in late 2003, they both had degrees in graphic design, occasional day jobs at magazines, freelance gigs for nonprofit organizations, and an “aversion to more commercial practices,” says Michaels. Three months later, they decided to start their own firm, aiming to “eke out a living doing obscure and intelligent design work” related to culture, art, and architecture. The firm now numbers six, including a third principal, Rob Giampietro. In 2009, Project Projects was named a finalist in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards.
“We’re happiest in a situation where we can work holistically across all platforms,” says Michaels. For Fast Trash, an exhibition about Roosevelt Island’s pneumatic-tube waste-disposal system, they designed the exhibition’s archival website, typography, and layout, and even helped curate the show’s contents. For architect Steven Holl, they designed two books, his website, and an identity system (logotype, business cards, stationery).
Though their work is diverse, “there’s often an element of the ready-made and an archive aesthetic,” says Michaels, who spent days with Krishnamurthy poring through old files at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive while designing the 560-page book MATRIX/Berkeley, chockablock with newspaper clippings, photographs, and archival documents. “Getting very deep into content allows us to create a much more informed design.”