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Published September 23, 2013 Updated November 24, 2023

Interview with Alan Kriegel, creator of Gestalt playing cards

Alan Kriegel has set out to rethink the signs and symbols used in traditional playing cards.

2013 USA Alan Kriegel Interview Kickstarter Add to Collection

Alan Kriegel has set out to rethink the signs and symbols used in traditional playing cards; he's funding the project through a Kickstarter campaign.

This is a project in two parts. The aim of the first part is to revise the playing cards of today, the second, to ready them for tomorrow. Here's a few insights from Alan into the creative process of the Gestalt pack

The unique court cards, aces and numbers.
Concepts for a possible expansion if the project is successfully funded.

What made you decide to introduce new colours to your pack (the blue and the green) and in your future plans to introduce orange and purple?

I decided to use a four-color deck to provide an additional level of clarity. I initially came across the idea with bridge decks and chose to keep the most common color set. The additional four colors (which are not finalized) round out the set with distinct hues from the first set.

As a designer, what was the most challenging aspect of the project to create? Did you have any creative blocks?

There were a number of challenging aspects. I spent a lot of time on the grid system and the individual layouts to try to create a set where each number was visually distinct. After a lot of experimentation, I have a complete set of 1-20 that I am happy with. For the court, I wanted to really simplify things down to an icon. The kings and jacks were relatively easy with their crowns and shields, but the queens posed a problem in that there is not a good symbol of queendom that works well in this context. I looked at scepters, globus crucigers, flowers, and even the crown jewels of nearly every country that has them, but in the end, circlets worked best.
There was also a fine line around which aspects of cards I should keep and which I should update. While I wanted to create a new and modern deck, I also did not want to break fully with the past. With the expansions, I tried to think of sets which would be useful as game creation tools and be universal enough to be widely used. And finally, coming up with a new set of tarot nouveau trumps was hard enough, but the real challenge will be creating icons for all of them.

You mention the additional suits, (stars, plus sign, triangles) which opens the deck up to the Tarot games. Can you tell us more about the new games that can be played with your unique pack?

I am not sure what new games will be created with my system. I have seen a lot of creativity in games over the past few years and my goal is to provide people with an expanded universal system from which new games can be created. If this and future campaigns are successful, I want to be able to provide eight suits, numbers 1-20, a full court (jack, knight, queen, and king), tarot nouveau trumps (original 21 plus a new 21), actions, blanks for custom cards and experimentation, and more. I don't know what a deck of playing cards will look like in a hundred years, but I want to give people the building blocks to experiment and start creating it.

If you successfully fund this pack, do you have any plans to release more packs in the future? Have you got any more ideas for your expansion pack?

I will also be releasing the layouts under a Creative Commons license so creators of future decks can help to create a wide variety of designs using the Gestalt system. I plan on approaching larger producers as well to try to further establish the system. I really believe in my system and would like to see it become the new standard in playing cards.

Thanks to Alan for the interview. You can read more information about the Gestalt pack on Kickstarter.

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By Adam Wintle

Member since March 15, 1997

Adam has been involved in developing the site as well as reviewing new decks and conducting research. He is particularly interested in innovation, Kickstarter and East Asian cards. He is a member of the IPCS and webmaster of the EPCS.


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