running words around
design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

Student Awards @ D&AD

Friday, 30 April 2010

Judging at D&AD
Judging at D&AD. Courtesy of D&AD.

Just received word today from D&AD that they have selected one of my students for an Award, which is great news. D&AD Awards are regarded as the benchmark for creativity and employability in the creative industries.

D&AD 2010 judging took place at Olympia in London last week, and finished on Friday. All the Professional Awards were posted on the D&AD website.

The student nominations go to press on May 11th, so until then that's all we can publically say. But I am already booking the tickets down to the Awards Ceremony on June 29th.

Arrivals Has Never Looked So Good

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

PA photographer Dominic Lipinski caught this great image of the first passengers disembarking at Heathrow Airport following the lifting of the ban on entering UK airspace. The photo appeared on the Guardian's article on the lifting of the restrictions.

The decision brings to an end the six-day long suspension of air travel, caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland, that has stranded thousands of Britons overseas and pretty much shut down air travel right across Europe.

The typeface is FF Info, designed by Erik Spiekermann of EdenSpiekermann.

A Showcase of Airport Signage.

Constructing a New World - De Stijl

Monday, 19 April 2010

entry door to the De Stijl exhibition, Tate Modern.

I finally managed to get a day down in London to see, amongst other things, the De Stijl (literally, 'The Style') exhibition at Tate Modern, which I previewed in a post back in February.

This is the first major exhibition in the UK devoted to the Dutch artist, writer, designer and pivotal figure of the European avant-garde, Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931).

The exhibition explores van Doesburg's tireless promotion of Dutch Neoplasticism, his relationship with Dada and Bauhaus, his links with Constructivism, and his legacy as chief protagonist in the movement which brought modernism to mass culture.

As you'd expect at the Tate Modern, this show is immaculately installed. The works are split up into 12 rooms, and the influence of De Stijl on a number of disciplines, including film, architecture, design and typography is presented in roughly chronological order.

For me the real highlights were Rooms 5, 6 and 7, which showcased De Stijl typography, magazines, and events posters.

In Room 5, Van Doesburg's geometric alphabet was on show, as an exhibit in its own right, and on dozens of posters and leaflets.

Van Doesburg Alphabet

Room 6 featured a series of Dadaist slogans and pronouncements (written by Van Doesburg under the pseudonym of IK Bonset) which typified the ethos of times -

In Room 7 were numerous copies of the seminal magazines De Stijl, Merz, and Mecano, all in surprisingly good condition, and displayed using the 'leger and trager' freestanding exhibition display systems, invented in 1924 by another De Stijl designer, Frederick Kiesler.

Magazines and Posters

As well as a wide selection of Van Doesburg's own paintings and designs, this brilliant exhibition features over 350 works by artists such as Jean Arp, László Moholy-Nagy, Kurt Schwitters and Sophie Taeuber.

There is a stunning set of El Lissitzky lithographs, and a series of visual 'scores' by Hans Richter. As if that wasn't enough, there are half a dozen pieces by Mondrian, some of them free of glass, allowing you to clearly see the texture and strokes on his famous geometric compositions.

The amazing level of collaboration between the various artists of the period is inspiring.

The overall impression is one of dazzling optimism, unbridled experimentation and Van Doesburg's enormous self-belief. This is the guy who was so committed to De Stijl that, on failing to gain a teaching post at the Bauhaus in 1921, he promptly wrote his own course and recruited a number of important Bauhaus students over to it. By 1924, De Stijl writings were regularly being published by the Bauhaus movement.

It's not all celebratory stuff though. The latter part of the exhibition demonstrates that by the late 1920's, the De Stijl 'rules' were beginning to fracture - some of the work looks like tired parody, and a certain amount of monotony creeps in to the primary colour palette and the heavy grid layouts.

Towards the end of the show, in Rooms 10A and 10B, van Doesburg's dramatic 'Counter-Compositions' make their appearance. These works embrace van Doesburg's trademark diagonal, and are brilliantly juxtaposed with Mondrian's final minimalist refusal to move beyond the horizontal and vertical - effectively the end of the movement, but emphatically the beginning of graphic design as we know it.

Van Doesburg and the International Avant-Garde
Tate Modern - 10 Years Old.


Thursday, 8 April 2010

Poster for Objectified

I finally got around to seeing Gary Hustwit's 'Objectified', the second installment in his trilogy on design (his first was the awesome 'Helvetica', which should be required viewing for all design students).

Objectified explores the ways in which design affects our lives. Specifically, the design of objects around us.

As well as looking at how we critically think about objects, consumerism and branding, the film examines the process of industrial design, and looks at the environment and social costs associated with global manufacturing, planned obsolescence and our need to acquire gadgets and tools.

Objectified follows the same structure as Helvetcia - using vérité footage, some clever audio editing, and informative conversations with key figures in industry, and provides a fascinating overview of our relationship with everyday design.

The Independent Lens website has a special section about the film, including a look at how it was made, and also includes an amusing quiz -'What Object Are You'.

Hustwit doesn't claim to be an expert in graphic or industrial design, just an inquisitive film-maker with a fascination about the way visual communication informs the modern world. As yet he hasn't announced what the final part of his trilogy will be about but it should be worth the wait.

Objectified Official Site
Objectified @ Independent Lens

Müller-Brockmann et al on Blanka

Friday, 2 April 2010

Muller-Brockmann poster

Blanka is an interesting website that displays a collection of original, vintage and limited edition posters and prints, and has a facility to purchase them.

Someone forwarded me a link to the latest set of posters on Blanka's flickr photostream, and it's pretty awesome - a selection of work from some of the great designers of the International Style, including Neuburg, Hofmann, Kaptizki and a personal favourite of mine, Josef Müller-Brockmann.

Brockmann pioneered the theory and use of structured grid systems, and was founding editor of New Graphic Design in the late 1950's.

What I like about these posters is how little variation there is in typeface (in fact all of it is Akzidenz-Grotesk, an early precursor to Helvetica), and for these guys the use of whitespace was all about building angles and partitioning the page into sections. This allowed them to create order, producing a controlled visual narrative in their designs.

Heavy on precision, easy on the eye.

examples from Blanka

Joseph Muller-Brockmann @ Blanka
Brockmann Interview @ Eye Magazine
Akzidenz-Grotesk @ wiki