Memento is a unique Playing Card is inspired by the history of playing card design. Each card in a playing card deck has evolved and gone through many changes over the centuries. Designed by Valerio Aversa, this intriguing deck addresses these changes by going back to basics and using prominent works of art as templates.
For example, the standard court cards of today trace their design roots back to the 16th century. The individuals portrayed on each card are figures of historical significance, heroines and heroes from antiquity, Biblical sources and latter European history.
Between his busy schedule, we were able to catch-up with Valerio for a quick Q&A on his design background, the inspiration behind Memento, the design evolution and take-away lessons from his first project.
Can you tell us about yourself and what is your design background?
Well, I've been studying design and architecture for the last 6 years. Over the course of my studies I have travelled to Portugal and Australia for year-long study exchanges. In the meantime, I've been working as a freelancer for several advertising and architecture firms here in Italy focusing on renderings and other graphics.
What is your inspiration behind the Memento deck? How did you come up with the idea?
I have always loved playing cards and when I began looking deeper into the background and studying them I came to recognise certain constants in the design across decks and time, so I asked myself the question ‘why?’. Where do these elements come from? The answer to that question is history. The real history of playing card design.
How much time did you spend working on the deck and can you briefly go through the design evolution of one of your unique card design?
I've been working on this deck since the beginning of January so it's been around 5 months so far. I would like this to be a community driven project (to the extent that it can be) and flexibility and listening to the card playing community has been and will remain key. The design process started by observing the look and style of most playing cards in the world. It doesn't take long to recognise that the court cards are all (typically) quite similar, be that on a Bicycle Deck or one by Modiano. I tried to take the vectorial feel of the drawing which everyone knows and used it to design some completely new cards, ensuring that the traditional values and meanings of each card are kept in the process.
Unfortunately, you cancelled your first project, Alpha Playing Cards. In your postmortem analysis, what are some of the things that you could have improved on?
I guess the type of minimal design which I like isn't right for playing cards (unless you are a former Apple designer, see Atelier playing cards). All the people I've been talking to told me that minimal design seems to give a lazy feel to the backers. I would counter that with the point that to achieve real simplicity is often harder than a cluttered design, however there is a fine line between the two.
One thing that could have been done differently is the amount of time devoted to the Alpha Deck, however as it coincided with my work on the Memento Deck my focus was split.
Second is price, it’s a competitive place and success is not guaranteed. The choice to go with Modiano was made with the label of ‘Made in Italy’ in mind, however the extra cost and the fact that Modiano is not as well known as USPCC or LPCC far outweighed the benefits of keeping things within Italy. Going with USPCC of LPCC, guarantees extremely high quality from giants of the playing card printing world, and will also facilitate fulfilment. Hopefully all of these benefits combined will help in securing the support that is needed.
We first noticed the Memento deck in the forums, shortly you've cancelled Alpha. What did you think of the support and feedback from the playing card community during the development of Memento?
It has been truly great. There are a lot of people who are incredibly passionate and their knowledge and experience have proven invaluable to the project. A lot of the suggestions were taken on board and incorporated into the final design. This is what has helped the Memento Deck look as great as it does, it directly reflects the feelings of the community to this project and I cannot thank them enough.
Playing card projects on Kickstarter has grown expotentially over the past few years? What are your thoughts?
I think that this growth reflects the growth of Kickstarter as a whole as well as the increasing interest in playing cards. It certainly helps that a deck of cards is to this day commonplace in almost every household, be that for poker or other games. Therefore, in trying to differentiate ourselves we always seek new, cool and otherwise exciting designs that appeal to us. Thanks to this growth and competition prices have been kept relatively low with the quality of design and materials going up, further increasing the appeal of playing card decks as something which is fairly priced, beautiful and brings people together.
Finally, what are your three favorite playing cards?
My favourite is definitely the Ace of Spades. Partly because of its meaning, but mostly for its design that differs from deck to deck. Secondly, the King of Diamonds, Julius Caesar as he is one of my favourite historical figures. Also, I really have a sweet-spot for one-eyed court cards. Lastly, it would be the Queen of Spades depicting the Greek Goddess Athena, symbolised through the book and the sceptre in her hand.
Thank you for your time Valerio. All the best!
Available in Black and White, Memento will be printed by the USPCC. Pledge starts from $15 and there are multiple add-ons available such as T-Shirts and Uncut Sheet. Don't miss out!