Admittedly, there were some challenges faced throughout the compilation of this 200-page hardback book. Of course, it was a mostly enjoyable experience, but there were a couple of tiresome nights thrown in there too – the type where they found themselves “wandering for hours” through the streets of random locations, “only to come up empty-handed”. It’s almost as if they’d been on an idle midnight stroll, only to realise they were sleepwalking. It’s the type of problem that occurs quite regularly when browsing the internet, with its endless holes and possibilities, continuous information and never-ending catalogue of imagery. Thankfully, the duo works together rather well; both hailing from either end of California – Nikolos from San Francisco and Tanna from San Diego – they had gone to school together, worked on various projects throughout their younger years, before going on and found their own studio immediately after graduation. “We got along, both inside and outside the studio, and found that our working styles and the things we gravitated towards sort of complimented each other and improved the work we produced,” says Nikolas.
For Dreams of New York, the studio’s collective voice and view on the world has come together to form a seamless integration of found imagery, curation and design. Recognisably New York in an instant, the book also feels as if you’re navigating a dream. Some subjects have remained exactly as they are, while others have been decontextualised, “removed from their environments completely and dropped into a hazy otherworldly atmosphere where the focus becomes completely about them,” says Nikolas. This was a conscious decision within the design to allow space for the images to breathe, where the readers can fully take a moment to pause and “‘meditate’ on each spread”. This, alongside Displaay’s typeface Reckless gives the pages an allusive yet familiar book-like feel.
With plans to move onto further cities around the world, to “see what gems await”, Forth and Back are certainly onto something. It’s like they’ve struck a goldmine, where an entire archive of fantastic imagery waits to be discovered. “The coincidental nature of these images seem to be one of the most fascinating aspects of this project,” says Nikolos. He concludes: “We hope readers start to attribute personal narratives to the anonymous faces and places they find here, and ideally begin to spark scenarios of their own – I know we have.”