Our Polite Society
Artist Page — 2 Sep 2020
In the Presence of Absence, the bi-annual show of proposals for the museum collection, presents 23 artists (collectives). This artist page includes a text on the work and an artist contribution.
The FACIT Model (2019) is a publication and installation surrounding research into the printed matter of the Swedish company FACIT. It explores, from a design perspective, the history of FACIT, which manufactured typewriters, calculating machines, and office furniture from the 1920s until the end of the 1990s. The company flourished between the 1950s and 1970s, an important time in design history as well as a period that shaped current ideas on office culture and its associated codes of conduct and ways of working. FACIT was based in the small town of Åtvidaberg, where it was a major employer. The company sponsored the local football team Åtvidabergs FF, one of the most successful teams in Sweden at that time, and the first semi-professional team in the country. After decades of profound social and economic presence in Swedish society, FACIT underestimated the speed with which digitization, globalization, and competition would grow, and had to close its doors for good in 1998.
The FACIT Model installation brings together original archive materials, digital reinterpretations of typewriter fonts used on FACIT machines, printed curtains, and reconstructions of FACIT office furniture.
The publication looks back in time through the printed matter produced in FACIT’s inhouse print shops, such as type specimens, manuals, advertising leaflets, and product catalogues, and includes analyses, interviews, and a number of essays. A new text by Will Holder, written on the occasion of this exhibition, is published as an addendum to the book.
By reconstructing the visual history of FACIT and enriching it with reflections on the local communities and broader society it was rooted into, the publication and installation shed new light on overarching relationships between graphic design, typography, globalization, corporate culture, and identity.
Jens Schildt (b. 1977) and Matthias Kreutzer (b. 1981) studied together at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, and in 2008 set up their design studio Our Polite Society, which designs books, magazines, posters, exhibitions, signage, record covers, and typefaces. Our Polite Society is based in Amsterdam and Stockholm. Work by the studio has been exhibited internationally.
The FACIT Model: Globalism, Localism & Identity (2019), edited and designed by Our Polite Society, 224 pages, 70 black-and-white and 130 colour illustrations, published by Spector Books, Leipzig.
Typographer Will Holder was commissioned by Our Polite Society to produce an “addendum” to their book, The FACIT Model: Globalism, Localism, Identity (2019). From the point of view of typewriters and typewriters correcting mistakes, and how timeconsuming it is to read and write “beautiful letters,” this publication justifies a Swedish company’s idea to furnish the world with office machines. It is a bunch of short ideas, joining to produce some sense, somewhere between screen and print, speech and writing, reading and writing, hearing and listening.
“Like a giant floating eyeball” hovering over the scene (D.F.W.), pointing in so many directions, while staying close to the page [this is a] report from inside a machine - 808 typewriter, a Roland-Facit hybrid model.
In addition to this online version, read by Jens Schildt and animated by Kalle Mattsson, a 12-page saddle-stitched booklet with sprawling footnoting, published by Spector Books (ISBN 978-3-95905-422-5), is available at all good bookshops worldwide.