When someone admits his or her ideal design client to be the notoriously weird Ween, you know you’ve crossed into unusual artistic territory. Though coming from Eike Koenig, founder of the Hort design studio and internationally recognized record sleeve wunderkind, it’s no surprise. The Frankfurt-based designer generates work that often borders on the bizarre, maintaining a complex equilibrium between irony and sincerity. With the Hort team, he’s created an empire of experimental branding, inviting clients such as Columbia, EXPN/ESPN, and Universal to either accept his unique professional vision or find some other cereal box designer to bully. The results are sometimes mystifying [Snug-britchered jockeys frozen in idyllic repose…in the jungle? On exercise bikes? Presenting melons in a wheat field? What?]. Yet they always capture attention, which keeps the big names coming back. Since the beginning, Koenig wasn’t meant for the conventional path: A necessary stint as an art department intern at Logic records in the early ’90s developed into a permanent job, and a permanent abandonment of his formal art school education. Favoring design-without-precedent to process-obsessed enslavement, he spent two inspired years as art director for Logic before branching out into the challenging world of freelance design and art direction. With the introduction of new design partners, collaborators, and a desire to reach a broader client base, his company, Eike’s Grafischer Hort, morphed into an abbreviated Hort [which essentially means playground].
For our project, Eike flocked the graphics directly onto his slipmat. The sinister angles are perhaps a nod to the music playing during its construction: “At Hort, music is everywhere. Music influences the temper, and this has an affect on what we’re doing.” Whatever it was in the CD changer that day, it doesn’t look like Ween.