At 16, most of us get our driver’s license — and that’s often the first time we get to truly interact with the world on our own terms. So I find it fitting that the theme of the 16th Mohawk Maker Quarterly is community.

What I truly love about the Maker Quarterly is that they take a while to digest, both visually and content-wise. They tend to inspire you to reexamine a topic you thought you already knew — and this study of community through the lenses of place, time and voice does exactly that. This issue consists of three volumes, with individual die-cut book held together with a printed belly band holding the editor’s letter, printed in brilliant blue foil.

Designed by Hybrid Design in San Francisco, the issue uses all three shades of the iconic Mohawk Superfine grade to unify its three parts into a cohesive set. The issue also features a Strathmore Wove belly band and Via Vellum on the cover of Book One.

“We’ve gone back to basics with the form of Mohawk Maker Quarterly Issue #16,” explained Chris Harrold, Mohawk’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. ” Three belly-banded books — each simultaneously distinct and integral to the whole — amplify our message in a way that’s deliciously simple. It’s a reminder that when we have something to say and a little room to experiment, materials can be more than a vehicle for words and images. They can be part of the message.”

That’s all well and fine, Chris, but can we just pause a moment to appreciate these gorgeous toothy die-cuts — which in and of themselves play into the very idea of community?

But there is more to this package than just polish. Reflections on the concept of community come from renowned artist Nick Cave, Pinterest Design Director Tim Belonax, designer and paper engineer Kelli Anderson and Dieline founder Andrew Gibbs.

“As with music, no single note makes a song, and even the right notes out of order can muddle melody into nonsense,” writes Tom O’Connor, Jr. in the boldly blue-foiled Editor’s Letter. “It’s the precise interaction of those sonic voices — and the context they give each other — that speaks to us. And just as one note cannot make a song, no community is locked in one voice or moment. Like a classic novel, as the world around it changes, so does the context in which we understand it. The shifting sands of culture necessarily influence our collective narrative. Communities have a story arc — and we are writing it in real time.”

In the Place missive, we travel from from a London bike shop, to the Facebook campus’ Analog Lab, to North Adams, Massachusetts, to examine how our surroundings impact how we see the world and what we create.

I really enjoyed reading Voice, as it tackles the idea that what makes us different can also unite us — once we find the courage to use our voice, exposing vulnerability and all. Vivid typography posters offset the content.

In a truly inspiring piece, Kristin Eberling, founder of Skate Like a Girl, opened up about falling in love with a sport that shut out her gender — and her life-affirming response. “Guys filmed me skating, only to delete my clips when I said I wasn’t interested in dating them. I turned in sponsor-me tapes, only to be told I wasn’t hot enough — never that I wasn’t good enough,” she recalled. “Almost every video I found or magazine I read had zero women represented. I thought about quitting skateboarding almost every time I skated.”

With Skate Like a Girl, she and other girl skaters got to define their world and set their own narrative — an incredibly powerful action. “I stopped focusing on how mainstream skateboarding didn’t care about my community … and instead started focusing on building a platform for women and queer representation in skating … the power of reclaiming media representation and shifting the balance in a subculture can’t be overstated … If the boys club won’t let us in, we’ll make our own club.”

Powerful stuff indeed! I also really enjoyed Designing a Plastic-Free Future by Dieline founder Andrew Gibbs, who described how a rare brain condition, and the resulting emergency brain surgery, changed his perspective on life.

I truly hope every maker and designer reads his words: “It forced me to rethink my entire existence and purpose in the this world, and how my time left on this planet could best be used … I decided that Dieline and our community could no longer be complicit in perpetuating the myth of plastic … this is a pivotal time for designers of packaging and brands, and an incredible opportunity for businesses to gain a new type of consumer trust and loyalty, built on passion, not pollution. We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to redesign consumer behavior itself, completely rethink and reinvent products, and change how we as a people and planet consume them.”

Chapter Three delves into Time, and how it can change our experience and understanding depending on where we are in it. Nick Cave’s amazing Soundsuits (seen above) provide a glimpse into how our definitions of identity, society and even politics shape the communities in which we exist, while Typografika tells the tale of how the side of a Minneapolis garage became a focal point and inspiration for admirers around the globe.

This is truly not an issue to miss! Hurry up and get your copy here already before they’re all gone!

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