Nocturnal is just the name we gave to something that had already been growing organically for quite a time before it got its label. More than a studio, it’s a space for exchange between friends. We are Michele m. Hollands, Giselle Monzón, Edel Rodríguez (Mola), Nelson Ponce and Raúl Valdés (Raupa). Each of us Nocturnals has our own life in the world of design.
The individual work of each member has developed in parallel. Some are more inclined towards audiovisual work, others prefer editorial or illustration. But a passion for silk screen printing, posters and just a love of simply doing something new has brought us together over time, often looking for an excuse to hang out together and have a good time.
The first thing we had in common was our academic training. We all came up through the Instituto Superior de Diseño (ISDi) - the only design school in Cuba. Although we were all from different classes, chance or destiny brought us all together as teachers at that school, for a period that was long enough for us to realise how much we had in common and form a friendship that extended beyond the school walls.
Later we entered a wonderful phase of collaborations, working together on projects and collective exhibitions. This grew and developed becoming more of a conscious undertaking for the group until intuitively we began to create and pitch our own proposals.
Following some collective projects and exhibitions, a meeting place and studio-workshop was born, along with the need to name the group. Unsatisfied with the thousand suggestions we came up with, in the end (as usual) we let our sense of humour guide us. The studio is located above a grotty bar, and we took the name of that bar. We didn’t even need to put up our own sign so people could find us, we usurped the bar’s sign.
Among our most important projects was our eponymous show Nocturnal, that opened at the Havana Film Festival House. There we presented screen-printed posters designed by individual group members, and then we created silkscreen test pieces taking graphic elements from those posters as a starting point, thereby turning something individual into something collective. We left space for accidents and experiments, achieving pieces that leant more towards fine art than communication.
Another significant show in our short Nocturnal life was the collective exhibition of Cuban artists entitled Ola Cuba, that took place in Lille, France. We contributed a multimedia installation called Juntos, pero revueltos (Together, But Messed Up). We placed audiovisual elements and papered large areas with Cuban cultural posters, mural paintings and screen print posters. We wanted these elements to talk to each other, to present Cuban graphic design as a gallery piece without negating its original function as a communication device on the streets.
Thinking about what lies ahead for the project, we don’t dare to tell the future but we all strongly hope this design family keeps its enthusiasm for working together, focusing more and more on our group projects, on generating interesting and fun proposals. If a good idea comes up, we hope it surprises us as we work.