Photo above: Left to right—Hamish Muir, Catherine Griffiths, Andrew Howard, David Pearson
The Porto Design Summer School is a two-week editorial design course that takes place in Porto since 2013. Website.
Participants from around the world, aged from their twenties to their fifties, both students and professionals, have gathered in Porto every year since 2013 to take part in a two-week course that focuses on editorial design. They bring with them different cultural perspectives, different routines and expectations, as well as differing experience and skills. Some, at the beginning of their design careers, want to expand their knowledge, while others, as professionals, want to break their routine and refresh. Whatever the reason, this coming together in territory that is new establishes a group dynamic in which each participant is encouraged to extract what is relevant and meaningful to them while being guided through a common set of course tasks by a team of internationally renowned designers.
Despite the large range and variety of both visual and conceptual approaches that book design can offer, and the ways in which they oblige multiple and simultaneous considerations, books are nevertheless objects that have tangible limits. Beyond the possibilities of engaging in the structuring of content—itself a powerful attraction—there lies another reason that make books such an appealing and satisfying challenge for designers—their physicality.
A book is not an on-going project subject to change; its parameters are not in a state of flux. The decisions a designer makes about size, format, number of pages, layout and so on, are permanent. There is a beginning and an end. And in a world where so much is in a state of flux, perhaps there is a refuge of certainty in producing an object whose edges we are able to define. None of this makes editorial design static or without challenge. It offers the possibility of producing a self-contained, portable and rewarding expression of the act of transformation that lies at the heart of the design process.
The core tutor team at the inception in 2013 was Hamish Muir, founding member of 8vo, partner of MuirMcNeil and formally, lecturer at London College of Communication; Andrew Howard, founder of Studio Andrew Howard and course leader on the MA in Communication Design at ESAD, Porto; and from 2013 to 2016, Jessica Helfand, author, founding member of Design Observer, and lecturer at Yale University (USA).
Andrew Howard and Hamish Muir continue on the course as principle tutors and were joined in 2017 by New Zealand designer Catherine Griffiths, and since 2018 by Swiss designer Ronnie Fueglister.
Each year (except 2014) a forth guest tutor has joined the team—Jonathan Barnbrook (2013); George Hardie (2015); Adrian Shaughnessy (2016); David Pearson (2017): Sonya Dyakova (2018): Nikki Gonnissen (2019): Rajane Dal Bello (2022): Miguel Almeida (2022).
Over the past three editions we have welcomed participants from all over the world—United States, UK, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Russia, Greece, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, China, South Korea and Portugal.
The summer school was suspended in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.