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Complements: throwback to a designer duo's anti-portraiture

In 2014, Leta Sobierajski and Wade Jeffree – a designer couple living in Brooklyn – began a two-year long self-portraiture project, titled Complements, that would encapsulate both their design aesthetics and their take on real-life romance. The young designers shared a taste for quirky aesthetics and crisp design – apparent through the bold, unrelenting backgrounds used throughout the project. Wade is a designer and art director, and Leta is a multi-disciplinary designer who works with photography, video, and digital media. They set out to create a series that would play to each of their design strengths and capture their endearingly odd sense of humour.

In their own words, Complements is a reinterpretation of "those hilariously cringeworthy couple portraits that circulate the internet". Sobierajski and Jeffree's series – which was completed in 2016 with a culminating wedding shot – presents an alternative couple portrait. Their unexpected prototype is bizarrely sweet, sometimes grotesque, and curiously suggestive.

Complements' final cut featured around 56 portraits showing a range of vignettes that the couple would shoot on their spare time. Aside from its striking sharpness, the series is captivating for its variety – bouncing from the shocking to the hilarious, and fitting in moments of intimate tenderness along the way. The couple's intention was to portray the moments of their relationship as time went on – whether sensuous, silly or serious.

Once the designer duo had finished shooting Complements, they collaborated with paper giants GF Smith to create a book that documented their series in glossy, vibrant, archive-quality photographic prints, complete with a hand-embossed spine and back cover. The book was entirely hand-crafted in Hull, England, using the high-quality materials and state-of-the art book binding technology that the paper giant company have come to be known for.

This timely design throwback reminds us that love is strange, and it looks the best when it defies convention and celebrates its honesty. So happy Valetine's Day to anyone who is in glorious, weird love.

Complements © Leta Sobierajski and Wade Jeffree. Images courtesy of the designers.


To see / read more about the Complements project, visit the project's official sites here and here. To see more of Leta and Wade's work, make sure to follow them on Instagram: @letasobierajski and @wadejeffree.

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