A good while back, Aroundsquare started to take an interest in the art of cardistry. We observed, we dabbled a little, and mostly we wondered.. We wondered about the potential for new visual elements that could be incorporated into cardistry work if we threw out a lot of the assumptions that go into conventional card design. The result is The Concept. It's a deck of cards designed only for card flourishing, and nothing else. There are no numbers, no suits, no faces. The entire visual field is designed around possible visual effects.
These aren't for sale quite yet, but we've done up a test run of them, and we feel pretty good about how they turned out. Let's call it a "proof of concept". We've added a little write-up to our Goods page, but to save you clicking over, here it is below.. Be sure to scroll past for some more sneaky snaps of the deck at work!
The Concept Deck eschews conventional wisdom and conventional styling. Recognizing the art of cardistry as the manipulation of cards to produce stunning visual effects, and seeing this as distinct from other forms of card handling, such as magic, and casino games, Aroundsquare sought to produce a card design that would unlock the full potential of a card deck. The quest to produce a card purely for this purpose resulted in a string of design decisions that, collectively, have resulted in a truly distinctive card design.
The first decision was to drop the standard card faces, numbers, suits, and pips. If the cards are not being used for card games or magic tricks, then there is no need for this visual clutter. Instead, AO2 has used the entire printable area, front and back, for the sole purpose of visual effects. The Concept Deck has 55 identical cards.
The second decision was to think of the deck as a system, rather than a collection of individual cards. While each card is richly printed and sufficiently interesting on its own, the Concept Deck is designed so that the cards will work together, front and back, layered, fanned, flipped, and spread, to produce visual effects that are more than the sum of their parts. The intricate and subtle details of many artistic decks are lost during flourishing, so instead, Aroundsquare opted for big, bold, solid blocks that can be perceived quickly by the eyes.
The third decision was to drop the standard borders found on most cards, in favour of a full-bleed design with edge to edge printing. This adds to the fluidity observed during flourishing, while the geometry and contrasting colours of the printed design still create a separation of space and sense of movement during cuts. Perhaps more importantly, the borderless design also allows for fans and spreads in which the visual field is not constantly interrupted by contrasting colours.
The fourth decision was print the cards with the same pattern on both sides, but using vibrant full spectrum colours on one side, and a dark greyscale on the other. This results in a high degree of contrast between the two sides, which is striking during flourishes, and can evoke a very different look and feel depending on how the cards are displayed. Flashes of colour between dark grey cards, and flashes of darkness between the colours, add to the effect.
The fifth design decision was the card art itself, which uses a simple geometric pattern that is symmetrical when rotated but still allows four distinct corner patterns to be displayed. As a result, four different fan patterns can be created, using either side of the cards, making a total of eight simple fans possible, and many more if the cards are shuffled or layered. This artwork has also been designed to create uninterrupted patterns when laid flat, opening up interesting possibilities for table work.