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Kickstarter: 7 Questions with Pocono Modern and the Retro Deck


You may have heard of Pocono Modern, but maybe not realize that Playing Cards aren’t their only creative outlet. Pocono Modern actually has an interestingly creative company, specializing in a wide variety of services. Pocono Modern offers architectural services as well as beautiful home furnishings down to Vintage Art prints. Kraig Kalashian is an architect and designer who is also the owner of the company. Joe Morelli’s background is in sculpture and graphic design, who received his MFA from the University of Massachusetts. It was Kraig’s idea to produce a midcentury modern deck of playing cards and in May of 2014 the Pocono Modern Playing Cards were launched on Kickstarter and found great success, not only reaching its funding goal, but exceeding it.

“Kraig and I simply love playing cards and we love midcentury modern graphic design. We’ve been wanting to create fresh, well-designed and functional decks of cards for some time, and are so pleased with all of the feedback we’ve been getting for these.”

With that success, Pocono Modern brings its second deck to Kickstarter, The Retro Deck. Inspired by the simplicity and elegance of midcentury modern design, The Retro Deck is available in two colors and features some truly striking design and graphic elements. The project is currently live on Kickstarter and will be available until November 3rd. Kickstarter campaigns are always hectic, but Joe Morelli was nice enough to take a small break from the campaign and answer a few questions about The Retro Deck and its development.


Did the experience with the Pocono deck give you a better vision of how to approach the Retro Deck?
We learned so much from the design of previous deck. For both the Woodland Deck and the Retro Deck, we looked at hundreds of historical and current designs, but no amount of research can beat the dialogue that happens from a Kickstarter campaign between the card enthusiasts and the designers. Particularly, aspects of functionality and playability were the first things we considered with this new deck.

Do you have a routine when coming up with a design concept?
Aside from hours of research, we have stacks of card mockups that were printed and cut at full-scale, held in our hands, fanned out, etc. Since a playing card is as much an object as a design composition, it’s important to get a feel for the scale and how each card relates to another.

What was the inspiration and motivation behind the concept of the Retro Deck?
Where the Woodland Deck feels more bright and playful, this new Retro Deck is darker, relatively minimal, and more sleek and mid-century modern. We wanted to explore the clean, hard geometry of the era a bit further and create a deck that was just as bold, yet more elegant. Sticking to people for the court cards in this deck allowed us to get even deeper into playing card history and lore. It was a lot of fun reinterpreting certain details that have now been in playing cards for decades, and in some cases, centuries.

Most designers get very excited about an idea, what excites you about the Retro Deck?
Kraig and I both are diehard fans of midcentury modern graphic and industrial design, and so any opportunity we have to design a product that harkens back to the timelessness and elegance of that era is very exciting. Also, the challenge of balancing the design aesthetic with the need for functionality is a fun, indeed.

Was it challenging to maintain some of the “Standard” deck features with the design style of the Retro Deck?
We wanted the pips to be vertical and elegant, and so it was a challenge to arrange them at an appropriate scale on the number cards. Also, with the colored field on the faces of the cards, it’s very important to keep a good amount of contrast with the indices. Precise Pantone colors are being selected for this purpose, as opposed to a CMYK print.

Could you tell us about the two variations available for the Retro deck?
In the end, we liked both the Light version of the Deck and the dark too much to choose any one, and felt that this design would best be presented as a set. There are merits to both versions.


What are some of your favorite decks or designers?
Kraig and I both have our favorites, and there are so many amazing designs that we’ve both started collecting. Currently we’re loving the Federal 52 Deck, The Boardwalk deck, and the Draplin Design co. "Thick Lines” deck.

We want to thank Joe and Pocono Modern for sharing some information and their time, if you haven’t checked out The Reto Deck, you can check it out on Kickstarter where the project is currently LIVE! You can also visit Pocono Moderns website and check out all their other wonderful products and services.
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