How I Got Here: Zak Kyes

Graphic designer and creative director Zak Kyes has brought ideas to life for publications, cultural institutions, and modern day visionaries like Frank Ocean and Virgil Abloh. He talks to us about his journey

When your design practice entails facilitating the vision of leading creatives, at some point the parameters shift to reveal that you yourself are shaping culture.

In 2005, Swiss-American designer and creative director Zak Kyes founded his eponymous design studio Zak Group and, during his tenure at the helm, the studio has led projects for a remarkable blend of figures and institutions at the forefront of creativity.

Zak Group has crafted beautiful work on the printed page, from the supple, hand-distorted type treatment for Frank Ocean’s coveted Boys Don’t Cry zine to the art direction and identity for the recently relaunched Fact Magazine, giving shape to the publication’s focus on long-form, arts-led features. This year also saw the launch of the studio’s work on Icons, a tome published by Taschen that explores Virgil Abloh’s partnership with Nike through the lens of sneaker culture.

The studio has also worked on site-specific projects, such as the exhibition design for White Cube and the Design Museum’s Beazley Designs of the Year show, which have inevitably had to take a backseat in the pandemic. During this time, Kyes’ Culture Is Not Cancelled manifesto resonated with the creative industries and birthed a campaign at AnOther magazine that sought to celebrate creative projects in these difficult times.

Following the publication of Icons, we talk to Kyes about how architecture influences his work, the projects and learnings that led him to where he is today, and how he’s had to adapt throughout a year like no other.