Isotta Dardilli: Queen of Italian Graphic Design and All Around Fabulous Person

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Isotta Dardilli’s Poster design for the COLORS of Money Poster, 2009

Todays’s Lucid Thoughts post is something a little bit different.  Rather than featuring a photographer’s work I have decided to showcase the work of Isotta Darilli is a queen of Italian graphic design.  She has been one of the coolest people I have met because of my involvement with Fabrica, and we have maintained an artistically creative friendship ever since our first emails about 5 years ago.

I met Isotta when she was working for FABRICA in Italy.  Fabrica is Benetton’s communication research centre lab where art is encouraged through various projects.  Fabrica is responsible for the amazing COLORS Magazine.  It is though a joint project of COLORS magazine that I first met Isotta.

I had submitted a blank COLORS NOTEBOOK for consideration in their collection.  I filled the the newsprint blank pages with stencils, photographs and words.  I was shocked to learn 6 months latter that mine had been chosen to tour with a COLORS Notebook world exhibition.  I was further dumfounded to learn that my images would be published in the FACES collection of the COLORS notebook project.   Because of this work, I formed a tight bond with Isotta.

Isotta’s heart is as big and fresh as her graphic work.  She doesn’t consider herself a photographer but she loves to take snap shots of her friends.  Her passion for graphic design has led her to take a short term teaching position this summer at Shanghai University of Fine Art, sharing her love of graphic design with Chinese students.

I invite my Lucid Communication readers to wander through Isotta’s website Isotype to get a full feel for her work.  I am inspired by looking at her images, and I am so thankful for the warmth and friendship she has shown me and my photography.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Isotta for the Lucid Thoughts blog.


Please take a minute and introduce yourself to Lucid Communication?
Behind the scene I’m a bear. A beach bear, who loves the sound of the sea more than anything else. I’m lazy and I love to stay at home, watch movies and dream of an imaginary life. I love to spend my time with friends too, drinking red wine and smoking cigarettes.  I love also to waste time.

Where do you like best to take pictures?
I’m honestly not a good photographer, so any place could be good or bad, in any case my pictures will be bad.  I studied photography in high school, but I lost the knowledge on the way, because I have discovered art and graphic design.  I studied with an analog camera, developing my pictures in my bathroom (my mother was always annoyed about it, because she couldn’t enter in the bathroom for hours and hours).  Anyway, I really love to watch pictures from other people.

What was your first camera?
My first camera was a very nice camera and I still have it in storage somewhere.  It was a really old Nikkormat.

What camera do you like to use now, and why?
I don’t  have any cameras now, I just use an  iPhone.  I really love to take pictures with my mobile phone…eheh.

Does your design and your photography work together?
Yes, a lot of my work is connected with photography, but every time I have asked a good photographer to take the pictures for me.  I think that this is a good way to work.  I leave the photography to someone who can do his/her job really well!

editors note:  This is good news for all the photographers out there.  Isotta knows when to step aside and let a professional photographer take over.  In the end it will help take her projects to the next level.

We met because of your work with FABRICA. We first came into contact with the each other because of the COLORS Notebook, and later the FACES book.  You spent a long time working with FABRICA. What was it like working for them? How was it working with artists from all over the world?

Working at Fabrica was amazing!   I learned a lot of things, a learned to connect with people.  I understand the process of how people come to find a solution.  I learned that all around the world is full of very very very amazing people, young people, people that have something to say.  And, also, I discovered how nice  it is to share your opinion with others.  Surely with the help of other people your project becomes more beautiful.  And I also learned that it is always great to have fun while you are working!  If more people had fun while working the world would be much nicer place.

editors note:  Lucid Communication made a submission to the Colors Notebook project with little hope of anything coming out of my contribution.  I was shocked to find out 6 months later that my notebook had been selected to tour around the world.  It eventually led to the publication of the Fabrica book:  COLORS NOTEBOOK FACES. which featured a spread of Jacob Schere’s work, along with many other fantastic artists.

Isotta’s own COLORS Notebook

What did you learn from working with FABRICA on the NOTEBOOK project?
I already answered the first part of the question of what it was like to work for FABRICA. For the second part, WOW, it’s a very difficult question.  Colors Notebook was a project that I left a piece of my heart and soul with.  It’s very hard for me to talk about it, because someone above me took me out of the project to try to do it all himself, and the project died. Because you need a lot of  heart to do a project like that. So, it was my passion out of the box.  I don’t really know how to explain it, other than it really took a piece of my heart.

I’ve never seen so many people that loved to be part of a project.  And, all the people  give us such amazing contributions for free.  I understand that a lot of people all around the world does’t have any way to express themselves… therefore I wanted  to find a way for these people to be able to express themselves the best I could.  I would like to emphasize that I took over this project after my colleague, Lorenzo De Rita who invented it and then left FABRICA.

What do you want people to experience when they look at your images?
Are you talking about colors notebook?  That people become aware of what is happening beyond their reach.

How has digital design changed the design world and the way that you create?
Probably that you have more options to try to do something.  Everything is easier.  I discovered that many people are creative and before had no way to be.

You recently founded your own company, What are the goals for Isotype Studio?
I do not know, I’m currently spending a sabbatical moment (smiles!)But the energy here is fantastic, isotype is just a little part of WAX studio…We are only 7 people in total, but the space is place where very cool gypsy like people can come with their laptops and work on their own projects.  The people are free to interact and talk together about everyone else’s projects.

Is there anything else you would like to say to the Lucid Communication family?
Spend well your time because life is one and society needs solutions to be able to have a good life!

Where can we see more of your work online? (but after the sabbatical year I promise I will update it!!!)

I love his work, he give me a good energy to do my work!


I would like to express my deepest thanks to Isotta for taking time to share her thoughts and art with Lucid Communication.  I look forward to more interaction between us in the future.  In the meantime please browse her website, and take a look at a sample of her work below.

Tallulah Gallery Illustration


Tee Shirt Design for Nivea


The Faces book that Isotta curated, and featured work by Jacob Schere


Book Designs for Designer Block


CD Design for The Quick Brown Fox


Art Direction for the COLORS Money Exhibition


Art Direction for Canova Show for Fabrica


All images are used courtesy of Isotta Dardilli from her website 


The Odd Reality of My Surroundings.

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Man, Bicycle and the Edogawa River

I often have to ponder about my place in Japan.  I sometimes really struggle with the fact that I am not Japanese and that I do not easily fit into society here.  But then again, I went though these same struggles wherever I lived in the states too.  So in the end, I struggle with these thoughts about society wherever I go.

I can look out my window and see the bay wedged in between the buildings, and the bridges.  If the wind is blowing in the right direction I can hear Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum float over from Tokyo Disney World, which is actually in Chiba Prefecture.  The mix of the world that I inhabit here is insanely boring, thrilling and ultimately surreal.

I was feeling sun deprived on this beautiful Sabbath day, so I grabbed my camera, and in shorts and a tee shirt hit my neighborhood.  I wasn’t the only one that was out enjoying the beautiful weather.  The park that sits only two blocks from my home was crammed full of people.

I just kept walking and this phrase kept popping into my head, “The Odd Reality of My Surroundings.”  I am not sure why, but those words seem to sum up my relationship with my own neighborhood.  My neighborhood is nothing special to most people.  It has its 7-11s and supermarkets.  It has homes, and large danchi structures, but it is my hood.  It is where I have called home now for more than 10 years.

Sometimes life just throws some thoughts into my head that the only way I can sort them out is though my camera.  I don’t know why, but it is often the only therapy that works.

So, I welcome you all to the Odd Reality of My Surroundings.

Hilltop and Across Edogawa River


South South Kasai [南南葛西]

The Urban Life Side of Urayasu

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Old Sweater, Old Urayasu

My friend Double You asked me what happened to the my urban images I used to take. I replied that I still take them, but I rarely share them.  I have become a bit obsessed with photographing how humans and nature interact in an urban setting.  To put it simply, I like to see some green in my images.

The crux of the matter is as an artist changing one’s point of view is essential for development.  After the earthquake hit on March 11, 2011, I no longer felt any comfort in my attraction to the urban world.  I saw the urban world as partially responsible for the nuclear mess that Japan found itself in.  I sought comfort in nature.  The colors enveloped my sadness. The resilience of the roots, stems and petals that still sprouted from the dust was amazing.

The perfection of the flowers reminded me that there is hope.  That the flowers can grow strong and beautiful, therefore we humans too could survive and learn to thrive.

As artist we are never completely satisfied.  We might be pretty happy with something at a given point of time, but when we go back and look at a piece of work later, we think I should have, or I could have done something else to it.  We, I, am always striving for new avenues of expression.  And changing the way in which I reflect and comment on the world around me.

Therefore, today I, LIVICATE to my friends DOUBLE you who gave me a nudge to show some images I have shot recently that urban images from my trip to the old part of town in Urayasu.

Sometimes to move forward, we have to look at where we have been to see how far we have come.

The Women's Side of Sento (Public Bath)


Umbrella, Door, Bucket, After the Rain


The Old Urayasu, is Slipping Away

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Sazae Shell サザエ (Turban Shell)

I have been in Japan more than 10 years.  I have either lived in Urayasu or spent most of my time there.  I have come to love the old part of town.  The town that harks back to its days as an important fishing town on Tokyo bay.  Most of the the fishermen these days have to offer fishing tours rather than reap the harvest from the sea.  Or they have a yakatabune (a boat used for parties).  Unlike their forefathers whose livelihood was directly dependent on what the sea provided.

Those days are quickly coming to an end.  The old part of town will not be much different from the new part of town within the next 10 years.  Therefore, I have witnessed the destruction of an authentic piece of Japanese culture.

The heart of the old part of Urayasu is Flower Dori (Street).  At one point in time before the highway and the Tozai train line was built this was the main drag. Small shops hawking their wares.  Fisherman homes lined along the canals that let out into tokyo bay.  The first time I walked down the street about 10 years ago I was amazed that there were still public baths on the street.

Now we jump to just a few days ago.  I turn my bike to head down Flower  Street to see how the destruction has been progressing, only to learn that it has been progressing at an almost unimaginable speed.  A beautiful old tackle shop had been replaced with a tasteless apartment building and that was just the beginning.

The street was being widened at one point.  Both of the historic buildings on both sides of the street had been leveled into dust.  My heart just sank.  It was heartbreaking seeing the street that was once so full of character being replaced with modern apartment buildings.

I had hopes that the city would preserve some of its own heritage, but that dream has been turned to dust.  They won’t stop until there is nothing left to rebuild.  It was one building at a time, now they are being replaced in twos and threes.  The pace is unrelenting.

One of my favorite stomping ground for photographs will be left as memories in only in pixels, and celluloid that I have captured them on.  I much rather be able to wander those streets, then just be at home and look at photographs.

Old Urayasu will be new Urayasu in a short time.  I shed some celluloid tears.

Clam Culture, Urayasu


Riverside Potted Garden

A Heart Full Day in Rainy Harajuku

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Heart Full Door, Harajuku

Harajuku is one of those places in Tokyo that I have a real love hate relationship with.  For most wether they are visitors from other countries or the Japanese themselves, Harajuku they love is full of teenage girls and boys playing dress up in and around Takeshita Street. Or the ultra brands like Gucci, Prada, and Luis Vuitton.  Often it is described as the gauge for what is happening in Japan’s fashion world.  For me, this is the part of Harajuku that just gives me the creeps and leaves me feeling empty.

It is too obvious.  Japan, crazy people, wearing lots of crazy clothes.  Being fiercely independent by all dressing alike.  Ok so there are a bunch of overly fashion obsessed kids around here, so now what?

What I actually dig about Harajuku are the little side streets that wind between Harajuku and Shibuya.  This is where cool little houses mingle with the most esoteric boutiques.  On this rainy day I was not disappointed.  I am always amazed that people live within a rock throw of the great teenage hordes.

On this rainy day in May, I still found some love to warm my heart.  A door to someone’s home had been tagged up with hearts.  Many many hearts.  Most of the hearts where smiling at me, so I smiled back at them.

Anyone who has spent a lot of time in Tokyo know that the real Tokyo lies hidden under the gloss of the tour books, and what the Japanese celebrate in their culture too.  The real Tokyo that captivates me is in these little backstreets that no one pays any attention to.  It is here on these wet backstreets that I found a door of hearts.  A door into my own heart.

Flower Full Door, Harajuku


Gated Jungle Home, Harajuku


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