Joining the design dots
The people who create Porsche cars love design in all its forms, says Thomas Walk. As creative director of cult Instagram lifestyle channel Type 7, the Australian acts as part curator, part design genealogist, helping to join the dots between Porsche car design, photography, architecture, furniture, fashion and beyond. If you can appreciate the beguiling curves of a 356, he believes, you will be equally mesmerised by a Soviet-era Brutalist tower in St Petersburg or Terence Conran’s cone chair.
“You look at a beautiful 911 and it has a lot in common with a beautiful building,” says Thomas on a warm, early summer Sydney evening. “With Type 7 we’re delivering a statement that says that just because you are into cars, that’s not all you are into. The people that design Porsche cars are also into architecture. They’re also into photography. Everything influences the other. And at Type 7 we are bringing it all into one place.”
A sense of permanence
It’s a philosophy that Thomas – alongside the Type 7 editorial team of Ted Gushue, editor in chief, managing editor Nat Twiss and Franziska Jostock, Type 7 project manager from Porsche – expand upon in physical form with the newly-released second volume of the Type 7 book. It's a mighty, 400-page celebration of not just Porsche but the multi-disciplinary design landscape into which its cars seamlessly blend. And it’s an opportunity for Thomas and the Type 7 team to dive deeper into the captivating world they’ve created.
“As great as Instagram is, as great as the idea of bringing something new to the table every day is, there’s no longevity to it,” says Thomas. “A good piece of content will be in people’s feed for 24 hours. The whole idea behind the book was that we wanted to give these incredible photographs and articles a long-term home – something that people could keep visiting without having to scroll through a feed of a million photos.”
Juggling. Balancing. Gatekeeping
The project – curation, selection, commissioning, designing and production – took, says Thomas, near enough the entire year to pull together. And as to what goes in? It’s a fluid formula. A significant proportion of the book’s content is informed by the more enthusiastically received posts on the Type 7 Instagram feed (which is rather prolific, putting up on average three posts a day). It gives them an opportunity to not just expand on the range of images but on the words too. But the book also features images that appear in the feed as well as some specially commissioned, all-new shoots and stories.
“It's all about striking a balance,” Thomas explains. “You want to try to have as much car in there as you would architecture or art. Curating it is the hardest part of the book. You try to narrow it down to the very best content. You try to focus on what people liked the most. But you also want to pick the stuff that's the most fascinating – and the content that is going to look the best when you print it.”
Namechecking his colleagues Ted and Nat as “gatekeepers” of the Type 7 identity, Thomas adds that when it comes to an appreciation of Porsche, what makes good and purposeful car design percolates through everything else they feature. “Interesting to look at, interesting to dissect. That’s something we want to get into, something we’ll explore. That’s what we want to bring to our fans,” he says.
You look at a beautiful 911 and it has a lot in common with a beautiful building. We’re delivering a statement that says just because you are into cars, that’s not all you are into
“One of the beauties of Type 7 is that it really introduces a younger audience to things like architecture, and why they should care about it,” Thomas adds. “It helps people notice that all of this is connected. When you put up a post on architecture, you’ll get these guys in their 20s and early 30s and they just get it. They see the visual connection between a beautiful car and a building.”
All sorts of special
Of course, Thomas and his colleagues are fans too. Just as they encourage their followers to get excited about the colourful, groundbreaking Modernist structures of Maltese architect Richard England or Kate Joyce’s photographs of sculptures hit with bright laser lighting, with the book Type 7 were able to feature some of the creatives that they are most enthusiastic about. Working with a close-knit community of writers and photographers, they were able to go deep into these stories in both words and imagery.
Thomas’s favourites include a story with LA-based artist Matt McCormick, whose work plays around with the iconography of American heroes, and the dreamy imagery of French photographer Sebastien J Zanella. Although perhaps their biggest coup was securing a story about the 911 (930) Turbo owned by Daniel Arsham. One of the leading contemporary artists working today, Arsham even contributed the illustration of the 911 that adorns the rear of the book. In many ways, it’s the ultimate meeting of Porsche and art.
“That car is all sorts of special,” says Thomas. “Daniel is an incredible artist. And he treated that car as he would any piece of art that he touches. It’s beautifully shot, so we really tried to give that car as much breathing room as we could in the book. This is a great looking car.”
Share your enthusiasm
You will find hundreds and hundreds of Instagram feeds dedicated to Porsche but there’s nothing like Type 7, says Thomas, who talks with the enthusiasm and passion of a true evangelist for design. It is, he adds, “overwhelming” when he thinks about it.
“People get excited with us, share our enthusiasm,” he says. “There’s a real sense of community. By doing things differently, we’re opening doors for people.”