Though Mariscal has often tackled the design of logos, his graphic design work is sometimes dismissed as calligraphy rather than being regarded as serious graphic design. Nonetheless, typography is fundamental to his work. ‘Letters are like the bricks of architects. They can communicate a lot of expression,’ he says. In many ways, his work is the equivalent in design to Italo Calvino’s short novel Invisible Cities, carving a space for the imagination and the dream where everything is possible.
The title of his exhibition at the Design Museum expresses the importance of hand drawing in Mariscal’s approach, and more than most designers, the direct relationship between his attitude to life and his graphic style. Although Mariscal is often asked to design for children – for example, his Me Too collection for Magis – he believes there should be no division between design for different generations. ‘The world would change if large companies learned how to play like children,’ he says.
Mariscal is also ready to make fun of those who take themselves too seriously: the installation includes a temple built from plastic furniture, symbolising the temple of design. For Blueprint’s Paper City exhibition at the Royal Academy, we asked Mariscal to apply his thinking to the metropolis of the future. The result (pictured below) is a view of a city from above, where transport systems appear like slides, and people whizz between towers in high-level transparent tubes. Paper City: Urban Utopias includes 44 images of imaginary cities by designers, architects and artists from around the world, and it is revealing that Mariscal is one of just a few who have drawn people as part of their vision.
* Paper City: Urban Utopias is at the Royal Academy from 31 July to 27 October: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk; Mariscal – Drawing Life is at the Design Museum 1 July-1 November: http://www.designmuseum.org
* Estudio Mariscal, Diseño gráfico, industrial, videos, web y multimedia.