Photographer & Designer Discuss New Furniture Design Publication

Check out the Q&A below with designer Rick Valicenti and photographer Tom Vack written by Sappi, the fine paper company.  Together with Holly Hunt, the designer and photographer team created a new furniture design publication. And, as part of Chicago Design week, Sappi sponsored “Between Light and Shadow: The Designer/ Photographer Relationship.” This event takes places tonight from 6 to 10 pm in Chicago.

more opus

Page from the Holly Hunt catalog printed on Sappi’s Opus paper .


Projects reach their greatest potential when all contributing members challenge each other to go further and create beyond their current abilities.

To achieve the elegant design of Holly Hunt’s latest furniture design publication, the dynamic working relationship between designer and photographer as well as printer and paper was essential. Holly’s long-time friend and respected designer, Rick Valicenti, and world-renowned photographer, Tom Vack talk about the project:

It’s interesting how you all had close ties with Holly somehow before this project. Could you please share a little background on how you collaborated in the design process?

Tom: Rick was the leader on the rapport with Holly in the beginning, but as we began to work, Holly reviewed and interfaced with us to give direction and her point of view along with the assistance of Curt Kendall. I have in my 25 years in Europe, worked with designers, such as Starck, Michele de Lucchi, Ron Arad and Ingo Maurer, and furniture and lighting company owners such as Flos, Magis, and Driade. They are always particular as to their point of view and while respectful of your point of view (or they would not have chosen you) you must think and emote in a collaborative or harmonious interface. In this case, we had a trio of tastes to blend.

Rick: On many occasions, Holly discussed with us how to move the level of her collection branding from promotional to keepsake quality. The new collection offers the perfect opportunity to make a bold gesture and reposition the Holly Hunt collection firmly in the Luxe strata.


The catalog’s futuristic design seems to transform the furnishings into objects d’art with very little text. Was this your intention for the art direction?

Tom: That was, of course, Rick’s concept. He wanted to give a new interpretation to Holly’s new interpretation of her collection. It began with the title, Things are New Again, which arose during our first meeting to discuss a direction for the book with Holly.

Rick: This tagline, Things are New Again, became a mantra during our planning and photo sessions. The aliens have landed and they are beautiful.


Page from the Opus book

When photographing the collection, how did you use lighting to create geometric shapes ‘between light and shadow’ that are evocative?

Tom: I have been working with light as a medium of background and foreground since I began working as a design photographer. I have constantly experimented with light installations as a means to create an environment or theatrical setting for objects of design. This book for me is a continuation of that search augmented to blend with the collaboration with Rick and Holly.

Rick: It should be mentioned that many of the images are actually combinations of many images, each illuminating with a slightly different lighting direction. Once layered in post-production, this created geometric patterns of light and shadow.


As a large format catalog, the piece has a strong presence in person, not only because of the size, but because of the unique pearlescent inks and satin finishes. How did the beauty of ink on high-quality paper convey the feeling of luxury?

Tom: Luxury is certainly a key word in the vocabulary of this piece. It is the luxury of materials. Holly’s collection is one of precious, sumptuous, and harmoniously finished materials. Part of Rick’s mastery of book making is the choice of papers and printing technique. Sappi’s paper and Classic Color’s printing was the equivalent of the bronze, fine wood, leather and impeccable details that Holly puts into the crafting of her work. That’s what makes it representative of her.

Rick: Classic Color’s 8-color press with the UV coatings has provided us a vast collection of finishes to draw upon and align with various images. Our favorite experience came late one night when the reverse negative image of the long sofa received an aura of gold sparkles. While it was easy to conceive the effect, it was one of those on-press moments where once the gold sparkles were added to the UV coating there was no turning back as the press was running some 3000-5000 impressions an hour.

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The catalog is printed on Sappi’s Opus paper. Custom Opus cover.




Don’t forget to get the July issue of HOW, the interactive design and typography issue.