A Tale of Symbiosis

posted in: Projects 3

I have created many types of catalogs, from three-ring binders acting as furniture makers’ printed showrooms, to stapled or bound catalogs, price lists and technical manuals with hundreds of pages of photos or illustrations. Catalog design is an artform and a process, and each has a unique solution.

Every catalog tells its own story, but some have stood out as more memorable experiences to me. For the past 28 years, I have been designing catalogs for California-based, Labcon International, one of the leading laboratory plastics manufacturers in the country, creating pipet tips, culture tubes, microcentrifuge tubes and storage racks for science labs around the world. From a two-color 32 page catalog full of my hand drawn illustrations in 1990, to the current catalogs full of 100+ pages of “laboratory-tech fashion”, we have developed a long term client/designer relationship that has had mutually beneficial results. When I starting working with them, my office was a few miles away from theirs. But for 25 years, I have been over 600 miles away. Yet the relationship has been strong enough to stay intact, thanks to a mutual design sense and trust that developed between us.

Trav-mad-scientistThis past year had the special distinction of bringing my business and personal lives/loves together on their latest catalog. My son (mad scientist Travis shown at left) is a student in micro-biology at Portland State University, and he mentioned to me that Labcon products are used throughout the university virology lab where he works and studies. We received permission from his professor, Dr. Kenneth Stedman, PhD, head of the Archaea Lab of the Center for Life in Extreme Conditions to use an electron microscope image of a Sulfolobus spindle shaped virus 2 (SSV2) on the cover of the latest Labcon catalog. Perfect symbiosis.

The catalog turned out great. But, I’m saving that story for another time, probably after its conversion to interactive PDF form. In the meantime, thanks Travis. You’re almost finished. Hang in there, buddy. Thank you Dr. Stedman for your viral cover model, and thanks always to Tom Moulton, director of marketing and sales at Labcon International. You are the best, Tom. A team effort that was just the right solution for this year’s beautiful cover. Go science!

There aren’t enough years left for me to start any new 25 year business relationships. But whatever the length of the connection, the art and trust will always be delivered together. My clients get me. Always.

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Bill Giobbi (bgob1) is founder and owner of Linea Forma Design, a 38 year old design firm specializing in creating graphic content for print, web and video. He is a graphic designer, industrial designer, model maker, technical illustrator and a digital 3D content creator/animator, with a love of all things design.
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3 Responses

  1. Elisa Giobbi Mills

    The evolutionary connection with all of you and your entities is awe inspiring! Very cool.

  2. travis giobbi

    oh yeah, the whole reason for this post… I now get to see this beautiful cover everywhere! It’s hanging up outside our lab, inside the lab on the whiteboard, over by the scale, above one of the work benches… We are all very proud of this thing and look forward to other opportunities to share the work being done with Labcon products at PSU’s Center for Life in Extreme Environments (CLEE).
    thanks again to everyone involved in the whole process.

  3. travis giobbi

    As you can imagine, Labcon has been a huge part of my life over those 28 years, even as its meaning to me has evolved. As a teenager they were a part of putting food on my plate and of my dad’s entrance (and the world’s, really, thanks to that first apple computer) into the computer-based world of creative design. Tom really gave Linea Forma a lot of creative trust and leeway. Into my 20s they were a part of teaching me to be a graphic designer under dad’s tutelage – another symbol of Tom’s trust and shared vision with Linea Forma.
    Then came my first day volunteering in one of the labs on PSU campus, before even attending my first class, – Labcon Scientific (and their OEM partner VWR) products were everywhere I looked. After starting classes I noticed Labcon/VWR in every single one of my teaching labs. It occurred to me that Labcon is a huge part of putting food on lots of plates. From the professors making cutting edge discoveries, the students starting their journey into the world of science, those of us getting our first lab experiences under the generous tutelage of people like Dr. Stedman, all the way to their employees and the creative thinkers behind their marketing tools.
    I don’t think anyone quite understands why I get such a thrill everytime I grab a pipettor and put on a Labcon tip to apply an aliquot of growth medium to the cells I work with, but now you all do. Thanks to dad and Tom for Labcon’s green place in the scientific community, and to Dr. Stedman for giving me the keys to that community.