We were recently a little surprised by what we found while researching Italian graphic designers, for the fact that one artist in particular gave us a strange sense of dejavu, something we hadn't quite expected to come from the portfolio of an 80 year old graphic designer. I never though I'd be embarking on a strange journey of visual archaeology, but after some inquiries with some knowledgeable fellow graphic designers, the name 'The Designers Republic' popped up multiple times, until I informed them that we were looking at someone else's work. It was quite humorous to see multiple jaws drop on Skype, but that's besides the point.
Now if The Designers Republic rings a bell, the now defunct firm contributed their expertise to one of the 90's most iconic series, a franchise that put Sony on the gamer map back in 1995: Wipeout. Now what sparked this entire conversation was a sample piece of iconic typography (Pictured above) created by Mimmo for a 1975 furniture convention called 'Arredo Expo,' but I couldn't help but notice some interesting parallels with the much lauded visual language that The Designers Republic created for the series, stemming down to some elements of typography, graphics and color choices.
After creating a side by side diagram of the elements of the 1975 expo and the Wipeout franchise and managing to confuse a few artists and gamers alike into believing they were created by the same studio, I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that perhaps we've found a decent chunk of inspiration behind the development of the Wipeout look. It kind of demystifies just how far ahead of their time The Designer Republic truly was, considering that a humble designer from Bari, Italy had already done a similar treatment 20 years earlier. At the end of the day we acknowledge that everything is a remix in some form or the other, but isn't it also cool to give credit where its due? Seeing that we aren't able to confirm this relationship fully, we'd love to hear your opinions on the subject.
We attempted to reach out to various individuals at the two firms to confirm or deny the source of inspiration, but were unsuccessful in our attempts to contact them. Sony Studio Liverpool (Formerly Psygnosis) was sadly just recently shut down, and The Design Republic has been defunct since 2009.