NESHAN, The Iranian Graphic Design Magazine

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Neshan 43


Lefts Better Than Rights! ChapChinStudio

Saed Meshki

The word “left” has a negative connotation in Iranian culture, and the expressions and collocations including that also indicate this issue: getting up on the wrong side of the bed (referred to as the “left” side of the bed in Persian, as causing a bad mood), cockeyed (as referred to “left-eyed” in Persian), and feigning ignorance (as referred to “going down the left way” in Persian) and so forth. 
To make it worse, until a couple of years ago, left-handed students were compelled to write with their right hand because of the belief that to be left-handed was abnormal. Contrary to all these misconceptions, ChapChin1 Studio was established in 2011 in Mashhad on International Left-handers Day by two left-handed graphic designers; named, Davood Morgan and Farid Yahaghi. Javad Zarinia and Aghil Hosseinian (who is not currently part of the group) later joined the team.

ChapChinStudio has emerged as a result of two incidents: first, the cultural and economic development of Mashhad in the early 2000s, which caused many graphic designers of Khorasan to stay in the more calm setting of Mashhad away from the hustle, bustle, and stress of the capital. Second, this younger generation of designers, doesn’t have a single superhero or superstar.
While thegraphic design profession may have once immediately brought some great names to mind, today there is an absence of legendary designers. This gap is increasingly bridged by young, collaborating, and prolific studios in the era of new technology, teamwork, spirit, and multimedia spaces. 
ChapChinStudio earns it’s accolades through its up-to-dateness. They understand the situation of today’s art. They have correctly identified that a small group, with a variety of abilities, can produce work with great potential and influence. This is a key point in contemporary design. That is why the group name ChapChin has grown beyond its founders’ names. I have heard it quite a number of times that “ChapChin” has been referred to as a feature or trait; an achievement that is rooted in this contemporary teamwork and spirit of collective thinking.
ChapChin spends a considerable amount of time on its projects: beginning with a brilliant concept they design elaborate sets, engage in a comprehensive processes, develop ideas, and undertake extreme care and meticulousness throughout the processes.
In order to design the visual identity for the World Graphic Day in 2014, and upon the request of the Iranian Graphic Designers Society, ChapChin, with an outlook on the matter of process in graphic design, constructed a large metal structure on the outskirts of Mashhad and installed the text “Graphic Design Week” on both sides. The making-of video taken from the whole process at a high speed, accompanied with appropriate editing and music, was screened in the opening ceremony of the event, and the photographs that were taken under different climatic conditions from various angles of the structure, provided the feed for the visual identity and environmental graphic design of the event. ChapChin, which was active in Mashhad and seemed less known to the capital’s residents, demonstrated its ability to conduct a multi-faceted project.
A significant attribute of the work of ChapChin is that each project has its own proper atmosphere and identity which is in concordance with the project brief. They spend a great deal of time exploring and understanding the atmosphere for each piece; a process that is often neglected in contemporary design. Knowledge and attentiveness to the subject matter of the project enable them to make various interpretations. The result is that ChapChin has built a diverse portfolio of work, which are nonetheless consistent with the subject and with the signature multidisciplinary approach of ChapChin.
This diversity and variety of views are quite evident in their work for the Khorasan Razavi Construction Engineering Organization: practical, artistic, and relevant to the subject.
The “Coca Mashadi” painting exhibition project is another example of many hours spent in pre-production and production phases, fusing inspiration from pop art and Andy Warhol, body painting, and so on.
Rudy Bauer’s exhibition at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is another brilliant example of precise engineering of a building using portable construction techniques allowing it the capability of converting into a Turkmen tent (Yurt).
But in my opinion, the unique feature of ChapChin, which is the core idea of their studio, is the empirical nature of their approach. They deal with each subject as if they are engaging with design for the first time, yet retain all the knowledge acquired through their previous works. The vigor and freshness that separates ChapChin from others and allows them to not repeat themselves is a direct outcome of this approach. Chapchin is capable of rejoicing in any event, however repetitive—just like an inquisitive child—as if it was the very first encounter. Such spirit allows a playfulness to be infused in both their process and outcomes. This energetic spirit is noticeable in: Nowrouzi Waltz Dubsmash, CUTOFF short film, Express Currency Exchange commercial video or CircoGraphic animation. 
We should keep our fingers crossed that ChapChinStudio will continue to maintain its enthusiasm in the upcoming years, and as they say, create precious work which “Grab the attention of the masses, gain the admiration of the elites.”

1 Meaning left align in Farsi

Saed Meshki

was born in 1964 in Iran. He studied Graphic Design in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Tehran University. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), Member of the Board of Iranian Graphic Designers Society (IGDS), Manager of Neshan magazine and Member of the 5th color group and Manager of Meshki publication. Saed has won numerous awards and prizes both at home and abroad. He has been the winner of the Second Prize for cover design and the Special Prize of Creativity of the 6th Biennial of Iranian Graphic Design (1999), First Prize for Cover Design of the 7th Biennial of Iranian Graphic Design (2001), Pearl of Czech Republic Design(2002), First Prize of the First Biennial of Cover Design of Tehran (2003), Icograda Excellent Award in the 19th international poster Biennial Warsaw (2004).

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