Three Question Interview
Scott Dadich on POWER Platon for iPad
What were the challenges/differences of adapting a hard-cover coffee table book into an app vs. your experience with adapting magazines.
From an art direction and design perspective, the POWER project is really about getting out of the way of the photography. Clearly, the portraits are the star here. Plat and I wanted to make a book that had some really timeless design and production characteristics. To that end, we spent almost a year on materials research alone, and we were powerfully influenced by the Fluxus movement and Alan Fletcher, who was one of Plat's design mentors. Le Corbusier's Polychromie Architecturale really shaped the way we thought about packaging this project, so in the end, we wanted a book that was virtually indistinguishable from something printed in the late-1960s. It had to be a beautiful, special thing to hold in your hands. With digital, we lose almost all of those tactile characteristics, so it's tough to do a straight translation of the book experience. So we wanted to up the ante and bring Platon's (actual) voice into the experience, because hearing how the portrait was made, how the subject comported himself, is as fascinating as the close up examination of the leader's face. The book--and the app--are very much about the conversation the portraits have with one another; the odd and challenging juxtapositions are what make this a compelling design exercise. With a magazine, it's much more about sense of place, the gravity of purpose. POWER is about losing yourself in a moment of examination and reflection.
Above: Le Corbusier's Polychromie Architecturale.
Above: Two samples of the Fluxus influence.
As a designer, what platform did you use to develop POWER, and what did the app allow that couldn't be done in print?
I worked closely with a very talented young designer named Allie Fisher. We used the Adobe DPS platform, the same technology we use here at Conde Nast to develop and produce our digital editions. Certainly, we were excited to include Plat's audio commentary, and the ability to devote every pixel of each stack to the photographs was a tremendous asset. Interactive maps add another layer of utility, but my favorite feature of the app is the slideshow function, which allows the reader to play each photograph as a slow image transition from one face to the next, ideal for docking or charging your iPad.
Dadich used real letterpress type and and four actual typewriters to create the book.
Above: 72-line specimens from David Wolske, one of one a few printers left in the U.S. with letterforms of such size.
Above: A small-scale test cover collage.
As a reader/user, which am I to buy? print? digital? or both? Why?
I think it really depends. I'm a "both" kind of guy these days, and that goes especially for magazines. I love the utility and ease of transport of digital editions, but I'm still a sucker for a stack of print magazines on a Saturday afternoon. It depends where I am and what I'm doing. Beach versus living room. I think the same thing is true of this book/app combination. The book is a keepsake, something we hoped would be a desirable object in and of itself, good for the coffee table or a photography library. But the app is about the deep dive, and I think there's an educational facet that will prove compelling. Certainly the app gives us immediate global distribution--at a much lower price point--for folks who maybe won't see or be able to afford a fine art photography book like this. Part of the appeal of this project is its international reach, and the digital version certainly exemplifies and accentuates those opportunities.