Psychedelic Perfume is the title of a hypothetical exhibition at MoMA PS1. It was conceived as a student project at ArtCenter College of Design, focusing on the editorial design associated with a Vaporwave-themed exhibition. It’s predicting that potentially this contemporary subculture, Vaporwave, and its related art, music, and design will be formally recognized by the broad masses – especially by the Millennial generation – in the future.
The project itself not only aims to present a comprehensive research of this unique subculture, but also criticizes the existence behind Vaporwave. It’s a subculture firmly associated with the Internet world, nostalgia culture, and capitalism of the 1990s. Vaporwave, in its essence, is a statement that reveals the broad masses’ reaction to the collapse of the economic bubble such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
As the core item within this project, this exhibition catalogue demonstrates the context, history, fact, and anatomy of Vaporwave. The overall design inherits its core aesthetics, such as grid, Greek plaster, palm trees, Asian languages, and 90s computer interfaces. Typographical choices are intentionally made to match the uncanny, psychedelic, technological, and dreamy aspects of Vaporwave.
The duality of softness and sharpness present in Lust and its unique visual characteristic matches with Vaporwave’s overall impression. Kozuka Mincho was chosen as the Asian language typeface, to match the visual characteristics including the thick-and-thin contrast of Lust. While the use of Graphik is intentionally bringing out the neutral perspective from the designer, the choice of Scotch as the text typeface in this book aims to create a sense of scholarly and dated feeling to readers. Since 1990s computer interfaces are one of the major visual features in Vaporwave, Stoxina – which unites the essence of digital typefaces with distinguishing swashes – is a no-brainer choice for details. The one replacement of “Psychedelic Perfume” with Digestive and Druk Wide is only a personal twist for the topic, functioning as a small information indicator as well as a decorative element.