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Avant la lettre: Insights 2009 Design Lecture Series: David Reinfurt

Tuesday, March 17, 7 pm David Reinfurt, New York O-R-G & Dexter Sinister While at Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair last fall, I was fortunate enough to catch David Reinfurt at the Dexter Sinister booth for a brief chat about the conception of DS and about a project they produced for a conference […]

Tuesday, March 17, 7 pm
David Reinfurt, New York
O-R-G & Dexter Sinister

While at Printed Matter’s New York Art Book Fair last fall, I was fortunate enough to catch David Reinfurt at the Dexter Sinister booth for a brief chat about the conception of DS and about a project they produced for a conference on contemporary artists’ books commissioned by the Art Libraries Society of New York.

David Reinfurt at Printed Matter's New York Art Book Fair
(Photo by Jessica Williams)

On Dexter Sinister:

“It originally started out as a project for the Manifesta Six Biennial, which was supposed to be staged in Nicosia on the island of Cyprus. They took the money that would originally pay for a biennial and restaged it as a six month long art school. For that they asked Stuart Bailey and I to come up with a proposal for the graphic design of the book. We decided to do something a lot like the way they organized the exhibition itself, which was to take the money and resources of what would usually go into printing and distributing a catalogue and set up something that had a more direct relationship to what actually was needed at the time. If it’s a six month art school you don’t need to make a 296 page catalog and send it all over the world. Things were needed in much smaller numbers so we proposed to set up a printing workshop in the city of Nicosia and make all of the materials there in this kind of vitrine where we’d be working with borrowed printers or people from the school who are artists to make the publications just in the numbers that are needed. It was just our direct response to what was actually needed rather than printing 1,000 because that’s what an off-set printer could do.

reinfurt_basement_outside_w reinfurt_org_thedemiseparty_w

We worked on that project for a year and a half in a store-front downtown in the old city. Everything was set up, but the project was canceled. Around the same time, we had found a space on the lower east side that we decided would be a good place to have a bookstore to sell some of the things we made. It was like a joke “Wouldn’t it be nice to have some presence for this project in New York…” but then when it was canceled, we just took a lot of the ideas and brought them to New York and just re-staged them in our space there. It sounds like everything was premeditated, but it wasn’t at all. It was just one kind of thing to the next. As soon as we had the underground storefront in New York, it didn’t make sense to do any printing there because it was so tiny. But a bookstore made sense, so we started running the space as a bookstore one day a week and the rest of the time as a studio.”



“This project was done for the Arts Libraries conference at the MOMA which we spoke at also. They asked us to make a book for the conference which was on contemporary artists’ books. So we decided to make this, which is a collection of Portable Document Formats (PDFs) that are on our online library. We fit each of the PDFs onto 8-page signatures and produced them on a stencil printing machine.

ds_01 ds_02 ds_03 ds_041 ds_052

ds_06 ds_07 ds_08 ds_09 ds_101

ds_11 ds_121 ds_13

Each of the Arts Librarians takes one of these sets, binds them, and puts it into their libraries. When we set up the online library we had this model in mind; that it would distribute and just push things out into the world and not necessarily circulate, lend or do something else. This was a nice project to do because it hits a few things we’re interested in, like the tension between the free thing online and the thing you hold in your hand, sealing it up and putting it into a library versus the ‘always, everywhere’ quality of a PDF.”

A vanguard among a recent wave of young designers whose practices blur the lines between the worlds of client-driven projects and critical investigation, David Reinfurt melds highly conceptual ideas with technological experimentation. After receiving his MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University in 1999 and working as an interaction designer at IDEO in San Francisco, he founded the studio O-R-G in New York, where his clients included the New York Times, AIGA NY, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Brill’s Content, and Dean Sakamoto Architects, among others. In 2006, with graphic designer Stuart Bailey, Reinfurt established Dexter Sinister, a small workshop/bookstore on the Lower East Side. Counter to the assembly line realities of today’s large-scale publishing, the studio’s process involves working on-demand, using inexpensive local machinery, considering alternate distribution strategies, and collapsing distinctions of editing, design, production, and distribution into one efficient activity. Dexter Sinister was featured at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève in Switzerland and the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Reinfurt has written for magazines such as the New York Times Magazine, Dot Dot Dot, Social Text, Visual Communications (UK), Modern Painter, Metropolis M, Idea Magazine (Japan), and Nozone Empire. He previously held a yearlong research affiliate position at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT and currently teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and the Rhode Island School of Design

David Reinfurt will be speaking at the Walker Art Center on Tuesday, March 17, 2009 as part of Avant la lettre: Insights 2009 Design Lecture Series.

March 24 Experimental Jetset, Amsterdam
March 31 Ellen Lupton, Baltimore

Series tickets: $70 ($48 AIGA/Walker members)
Individual event tickets: $20 ($15; $10 students)

For tickets: 612.375.7600

Lectures will be webcast on

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