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#37: Manila in 48 pages

Lupi Asensio and Martin Lorenz, founders of Barcelona-based design group, visited Manila as the destination for the 11th volume of their travel book project, The One Weekend Book Series.

If you were given 48 hours to get to know a new city — eat their food, get lost in translation, inebriate in their local alcohol, stumble in their streets — how would you retell your story? For Martin Lorenz and Lupi Asensio, founders of Barcelona-based design group, the experience is encapsulated in a 48-page handmade book.

The One Weekend Book Series is a travel book project wherein, for each issue, Martin and a guest artist are given 48 hours to experience a city, document it and create a handcrafted visual diary about their experience. The result is a narrative of cultural rediscovery from a very subjective point of view, definitely not something you would find in your usual travelogue. While the books aim to retell the charm, quirks and personality of the city they are visiting, it is also a journey of self-discovery from the artists of the book themselves.

Manila was the destination for Martin and Lupi to create the 11th volume of their series. Along with The Office of Culture and Design, they worked with local sign painter, Jumbo Ranises, in trying to capture the city of Manila within 48 pages. Martin shares with Young STAR how The One Weekend Book Project came to be.

The weekend project. “I was living in Frankfurt in 2003. I only had the weekend free to do things outside of my regular job, and I really felt that I had to do some personal work. I called my friend up and said, ‘Look, I don’t really know what we’re going to end up doing this weekend, but I have the name for the project we’re going to do this weekend.’

“This project is about breaking away from the stagnation caused by ‘knowing it all.’ What started as a fun project with a friend became a vital source of keeping creativity alive by being open to inspiration, wherever, whenever and from whomever it comes.”

48 Hours. “We usually arrive on a Friday, and we use that day to walk around and do research. We like to look at packaging of local products, fliers, posters, signage or any other thing that inspires us.

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“Friday is the day for us to collect things. Then on Saturday we sit down and just create pieces, we draw or paint or do collages or whatever. On Sunday we edit the images we have created. It’s also about organizing all the pages in a narrative fashion so that the story of our weekend in the city is told correctly, with the right ups and downs, with the right tension.”

The experience. “Normally, we try not to expect or look for anything fixed in each city. It’s about allowing yourself to be guided by the experience you have there, not about reaching a certain target or goal. We try to tell our story of how we experienced that particular city at that particular moment. The same project done in the same city on a different weekend would produce an entirely different book. It’s about our subjective moment and how that moment inspires us.”

Warming up. “In the beginning, when you get to a city, you’re just starting to get to know your collaborator and it’s all a bit weird and sometimes uncomfortable. You start working not knowing really what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. “And then all of a sudden, there comes a moment where you realize that there is a direction to what you’re producing. You realize that what you’re doing makes sense. The collaboration with the other person all of a sudden seems unified. And then you don’t know where your work begins and the other person’s work ends. That’s when you know you’re on the right track.”

The Filipino sign maker. “It’s been interesting to talk to Jumbo about Filipino typefaces and why they are so different. He’s learned from doing, and from doing so completely manually. Jumbo is also the first guy we’ve worked with that is not an established illustrator, designer or artist, so it’s a really relaxed atmosphere with him. Plus he’s a very patient guy. Jumbo is really easy to be around.”

Pack-up. “Our heads aren’t yet thinking about where the next One Weekend Book will be.

“We’ll just go with the flow I suppose, and see where life and inspiration takes us next. We did get an e-mail a few days ago to do a One Weekend Book in Romblon, though, which was surprising. Too bad we don’t have enough time on this trip. Maybe next year?”

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