I decided to spend spring break 2013 in Berlin, Germany.
On March 13, 2013, I spent the day alone and explored Berlin on my own.
It was very important for me to visit this museum at this moment in my life, I think. Being so close to the work created by art pioneers that I admire so much, made my knees shake a bit, seeing their work in person impacted me, but more importantly, being in the place where it all happened in Berlin, is what was important. Seeing work created by Bauhaus artists at the MOMA seems a bit out of context for me, being in Berlin however, and walking through the Holocaust memorial, being faced with its rich history, gave me an eye opening perspective on the work that came out of the Bauhaus, and how it all happened because of environment, and time. What I admire so much about the Bauhaus, was that all departments, at one point or another, collaborated with one another, artists such as Gertrud Arndt, Paul Klee, Laszlo Moholy Nagy, Herbert Bayer, (few examples), didn’t constrain themselves to one medium, or one area of focus. The work that came out of the Bauhaus left a permanent imprint on design/ art world, not because of the “institution”, but because of the collaboration, and communication that sparked amongst the artists, which was a response to the times they were currently living in.
I’ve always been drawn to the fiber arts, specifically the traditional process of creating a textile on a loom. Fiber arts, and the production of textiles has always been considered “women’s work”. Immediately when I walked into the museum, the first exhibition I saw was dedicated to Gertrud Arndt, a female pioneer of the Bauhaus. The hundreds of self portraits that she took of herself, that she insisted on not showing until the early two thousands, were now framed and mounted, in a room dedicated solely to her work, breathtaking. This exhibition showed many of her preliminary sketches of many of her rug designs, as well as the final woven pieces. All of her sketches, and drawings for rug designs, had an underlying grid structure, the process of creating a wall piece, or a rug, doesn’t limit itself to fiber, her sketches are often paintings in water color and gouache, as well as pen and ink, all over a grid structure. Seeing a preliminary sketch, with yarn samples attached to it, and next to it the final woven textile, shows the beautiful process of textile production, a process which has been mostly replaced my mechanical reproduction. I can’t ignore the link I see between graphic design and textile arts. Graphic Design, being a field whose pioneers are mostly men, combined with textile design which is known as “women’s work”, creating a mesh between the two is something i’m currently exploring in my work.
Learning to use a grid structure I know is important when getting an education in design. “Follow the grid, let the grid guide you, order”, these are things the grid whispers to me when working with it on the computer, but there is always a moment when I imagine tearing the grid out of the screen. I miss the automatic process of creating through free exploration, making what feels right. Before I can say f*ck the grid, I have to get to know the grid, this is what I am telling myself to avoid existential design breakdowns. Communicating a visual message, with images and words is what i’m interested in doing, but sometimes I feel like I am hindering myself by conforming to a grid layout. I’m afraid of blending into the giant sea of stereo typical graphic design. I feel constrained, within a system, within many systems.
While doing some research on graphic design, I stumbled upon the names of many graphic designers, that dedicated their lives to creating work that broke all of the graphic design rules set in place. While making what felt right to them, as artists, they were still able to graphically communicating messages by combining word and image.
The following images are of posters created by important graphic designers, that implemented the surreal into their designs. Using collage, and experimenting with typography, and photography they were able to make functioning posters, while avoiding conformity.
The grid is the underlying STRUCTURE in a design, it precisely defines the layout of the page. Armatures, on the other hand, are a way to unify or bind a design by using space and imagery through random placement to optically make a design work. The following are examples of designs that utilize either the grid, the armature, or both.
The chapter on pattern language in Christopher Anderson’s book “The Timeless Way of Building”, goes into poetic detail, about how the world we’ve built today, contains a pattern language. By pattern language, Christopher Anderson means that pattern is intrinsic to nature, and is the building block of existence, and this is reflected through architecture, and the design of cities. Pattern in the most miniscule way, can be found in our DNA, or in a tree’s trunk through the rings that show its age.
Acknowledging that there is a naturally occurring order(through pattern) in nature that has influenced all of the great inventions of humankind can give designers a different outlook on why design/ the arts, science, and mathematics are important. They are our reactions to the complex design of nature, the world, and the universe.
Nature is perfect, and self reliant. We try to mimic the perfect acts of nature with our manmade physical inventions, the materials used to create these machines, objects, and technologies are extracted from nature. That is to say that design isn’t something created by man, it has always existed in nature, and man just tries to mimic it.
Our pattern language and behavior, that has erected great cities with great architecture, is pattern layered on pattern, that is layered on top of the perfect pattern of natures landscape.
We’ve been trying to understand, figure out, and mimic nature so much that we’ve began to greatly influence its behavior in a destructive way.
Human beings are a part of nature.
As designers, we have to take a minute to step back, and forget about the job we’re trying to work towards, and the money we’re trying to earn, and really pay attention to what’s happening around us. Our designs that combine word with imagery draws peoples attention. What are we reacting to, and what type of visual message are we trying to convey? How does your environment influence you?
Being passive is boring.
Think about it.
Our visual messages have the power to do more than please a client.
The photo is a still from a video I shot about a week ago for my class with Fritz Haeg and Erik Troffkin. I was playing around in photoshop with photos and stills from the shoot, and thought about a “Detroit Vogue”, and what that would be like……. Knowing that Vogue uses Bodoni in its title, I made this little montage. I just bought a decent 35mm film camera, and have lots of expired film (courtesy of FUJI), and since then I started taking photos of my friends in our natural habitats outside of home such as City Club, and Temple Bar……. It’s just a small side project but i’m hoping it will be a little fashion magazine, showing crazy outfits, and costumes from vogueing events we go to/ participate in + more. Of course i’ll be using “sexy” typography to describe or name the spread etc.
” The history of typography reflects a continual tension between the hand and the machine, the organic and the geometric, the human body and the abstract system.”
Typography today is the extension of a practice that has been around for many centuries. Before Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable type , scribes were fabricating books by hand. The natural fluidity of the handwritten letters used in scrolls was used as a model for Gutenberg’s first printed bible. It’s good to be mindful of the history of type, and how it relates to the human body, it all started as a carefully handmade craft.