Posts tagged with "graphic design":
The Chicago Design Museum’s current exhibition brings the ’80s and early ’90s back through the work of postmodernist graphic and furniture designer Dan Friedman. The show, Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist, was originally curated by the artist himself prior to his death in 1995. Continuing his brother’s legacy, Ken Friedman leads the exhibition with curatorial assistance from Chris and Esther Pullman, Mara Holt Skov, and Steven Skov Holt. Friedman, who posthumously won the 2015 AIGA Medal, was instrumental in shifting the world’s perspective of graphic design from a mostly commercial endeavor to a visual art form. The show includes a wide range of his work, from furniture and experimental sculptural installations to found art and his signature new wave typography. Coining the term “radical modernism,” Friedman helped define an era and style that included contemporaries like Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons. This very personal exhibition looks back into a time that can only be described as radical.
Perhaps it's the contemporary obsession with nostalgia, but somehow, just like Brutalism, dated design manuals have made a comeback. Thanks to a few within the design industry—notably "typomaniac" Erik Spiekermann and filmmaker Gary Hustwit—the thirst for graphic design guides and their retro-chic has flourished. These books have become coffee table musts. But where to buy them? Sure, they can be purchased online, but if we are to truly wind back the analog clock, nothing quite beats a visit to a proper bookstore and a new one in Brooklyn has the answer.
Graphic designers Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed opened their new graphic design bookstore yesterday, along with their new design office, Order. Located in Greenpoint, the store was designed by New York architect Miran Jang in collaboration with Smyth and Reed. According to the owners, it is the only specialized graphic design bookstore in New York City.
Order specializes in branding, corporate identity, publications, signage, and wayfinding design. The Brooklyn-based pair favors a straightforward typographic approach, preferring function over decoration. Their work has been recognized by institutes such as the Type Directors Club and The American Institute of Graphics Arts.
Formerly of Pentagram, Smyth and Reed are also the two designers behind Standards Manual. The venture started off when they unearthed a 1970 edition of the New York City Transit Graphics Standards Manual and decided it would be a good idea to reproduce it. A 2014 Kickstarter campaign asked for just over $100,000 to print 1,000 books. The pair eventually raised more than $800,000. People actually wanted this, who knew?
Naturally, a second standards manual followed, this time for NASA and also from the 1970s. And this time their fundraising fell a mere $58,000 shy of $1 million. Their current Kickstarter, for the 1977 EPA Graphic Standards System, has already reached its goal.
These design manuals and a selection of curated graphic design books from a variety of publishers including Chronicle Books, Gary Hustwit, Harper Collins, Hartley and Marks, Hachette, Laurence King, Niggli, Phaidon, Prestel, Unit Editions, and Yale University Press are available to purchase at their new store.
Standards Manual store 212 Franklin Street Brooklyn, New York
Hours: Monday–Saturday, 10–6 p.m.
How does one do good work for bad people? This oversimplified question is especially relevant for architects, and one that the exhibition of work by East German graphic designer Klaus Wittkugel at P! Gallery (P! Gallery, 334 Broome St., New York. January 14–February 21, 2016) asks us to consider, while simultaneously treating us to some modernist visual pleasure.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have been taught that capitalism is the end-all-be-all system to structure our society, and consumption is the answer to our desires—overwhelmingly influencing our aesthetics and our ethics. But looking at the oeuvre of the little-known figure Wittkugel, who was the head designer of the German Democratic Republic’s Socialist Ministry of Information, we find an alternate reality: A sense of aesthetic purpose that, while firmly modernist, shows a softer, more figurative and less abstract approach to design. And yet at times it can be reminiscent of Socialist Realism propaganda, which today is usually met with finger wagging and dismissed as kitsch. It is supposedly the preferred visual language of dictators, with smiles beaming sunshine and 150 percent worker productivity embodied in a visual image. Yet what Ost Und oder West [East and West] reveals is a more complex relationship between design and power, and the limits of artistic freedom under Soviet Communism in post-war Germany.
The exhibition is not only impressive for the work it contains, but also for how it was assembled. P! founder and director Prem Krishnamurthy spent more than seven years assembling Wittkugel’s work into a thorough survey of books, posters, exhibitions, and signage, found in auspicious moments at used bookstores and by scouring eBay. In the process of uncovering this history, Krishnamurthy tells of an early encounter in Wittkugel’s career in 1950, when he designed a poster for a GDR Five Year Plan, and was chastised for its abstraction. Some higher party official determined that this abstraction did not adequately service the proletariat. Witttkugel was censured for not being a good enough Communist, and subsequently forced to attend remedial Socialism classes, brushing up on his Marx and Lenin as if that would instill his graphic designs with the proper message.
The work of Wittkugel displayed in the gallery is in a visual style that positions him as an heir to the legacies of early 20th-century design legends El Lissitzky and László Moholy-Nagy, like a long-lost East German cousin of the earlier German Bauhaus and Russian Constructivist diasporas. The judicious use of mise en abyme—the graphic technique of creating an infinity mirror, a recursive visual trick where an image contains a smaller version of itself in a window in a window in a window, etc…. We might describe this today as “meta.” Krishnamurthy acknowledges that one of the things that really attracted him to his work is “a strain of self-reflexivity about the production of graphic design. So you have a poster, for an exhibition of posters, that is a freshly-postered poster column,” he said. The P! exhibition continues this game by recreating the poster column on the gallery facade.
All of this is juxtaposed with a companion exhibition at OSMOS gallery on the work of Anton Stankowski, a former classmate of Wittkugel’s from the Folkwang University of the Arts, who went on to work in West Germany and Zurich, designing many corporate logos—most notably the minimal Deutsche Bank slash-in-square, which is still in use today. While Stankowski designed symbols of Western businesses and corporations in service of capital, Wittkugel designed the visual manifestation of the political and cultural ambitions of Soviet East Germany in the form of dinnerware, an elegantly embellished cursive visual identity, and signage for the now-demolished Palast der Republik.
While works like Wittkugel’s signage for the Kino International relate more directly to architecture, the exhibition offers conceptual lessons for architectural practice about architecture’s inevitable collaborations with people whose values may not align with one’s own. You can refrain from designing prisons if you object to incarceration, but it doesn’t mean some architect somewhere won’t design that prison, so why not engage and attempt to design a more humane prison?
The importance of critical engagement is shown in Wittkugel’s 1957 exhibition Militarism without Masks. He conceived of the exhibition, organized the team, designed it with his students, and ultimately won the East German National Prize. It was a polemical, anti-West German exhibition that featured former Nazis who became part of the West German government, juxtaposing images of Hitler with Henry Ford, snakes, and gold coins. The show featured two levels of narrative: Detailed vitrine presentations with archival materials that told the story of the Krupp family and how they made money from the war, alongside big bombastic moves that allude to El Lissitzky’s exhibition designs. Another impressive element was a mechanically louvered sign with vertical, rotating triangular slats to display three images. Also included in the exhibition was a panorama of the Kurfürstendamm in West Berlin, portrayed as a wasteland without humans—a newspaper kiosk with militaristic posters on it stands alone. Four years later, in 1961, when Wittkugel did his own retrospective exhibition, he recreated that same newspaper kiosk in the photograph, at a one-to-one scale, thereby showing his exhibition design as an object in his exhibition: it’s a very self-reflexive design move.
Any serious international cultural institution would be remiss not to consider this collection of thought provoking but lesser-known work from a precarious moment in design history.
Like many private education companies, Career Education has struggled with declining enrollment over the past few years and has been losing money. The company's 2014 revenue fell to $736.9 million from $834.1 million in the year prior, and its loss widened to $178.2 million from $164.3 million in 2013.Nationally enrollment has declined at for-profit universities, as well. “We're saddened,” said McCoy. “We are. We are happy to have been able to partner with Columbia College, and the underlying thing is we're not closing the door on our students.”
Mildred Friedman, the longtime design curator of Minneapolis' Walker Art Center and a prolific architectural author, died Wednesday at her home in New York City. She was 85. Friedman, whose friends called her “Mickey,” ran the Walker for 21 years with her husband, Martin, who was its director. Together they made it “America's leading design museum,” according to a tribute from Architectural Record on the occasion of the couple's “retirement” in 1990.
As the museum's design curator, Ms. Friedman also edited its publication, Design Quarterly, which she managed deftly, according to Andrew Blauvelt, the Walker’s senior curator of design, research, and publishing. "With its singular focus, generous reproductions, and smart design, it was decidedly not one of those dry and often poorly designed, peer-reviewed, academic journals,” wrote Blauvelt in a remembrance. “Although it’s been more than 20 years since DQ ceased publication, the void that it left has never been filled.”
Much of her work curating and editing Design Quarterly would spin off into publications. Friedman wrote or co-wrote dozens of books, including Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History, the first large-scale museum survey of the field.
Since 1990, she and her husband had lived in New York City, where Ms. Friedman continued writing and curating at institutions including the Guggenheim Museum, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Brooklyn Museum.
Under Friedman, shows at the Walker were not just shows but immersive experiences.
“In Mickey’s hands, a design show was never simply about a subject, but drew upon the principles and power of design itself to create a compelling experience,” wrote Blauvelt. “ This particular strategy of restaging, wherein visitors can not only look at works of art on view but also experience them directly and even viscerally, certainly drew upon Mickey’s skills and experience in interior design but also signaled a powerful new curatorial technique.”
Mickey was instrumental in defining the architectural landscape of the Twin Cities by connecting patrons to architects … She was the design maven of the Twin Cities for many years and she had a huge impact— huge.
Friedman's legacy is inextricably linked to those of many 20th century architects. Her 1986 exhibition of Frank Gehry's work bolstered the architect's career—a feat she replicated by championing the likes of Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, Tod Williams, Billie Tsien and César Pelli, whom she also helped win commissions in the region by suggesting them for local landmark projects.
Born Mildred Shenberg in 1929, Ms. Friedman grew up in California. She met Martin Friedman at UCLA, where her future husband was teaching drawing as a graduate student in art history and painting. They married in 1949.
In 1980 she started the Mildred S. Friedman Design Fellowship, a program to give recent design graduates experience in her design studio at the Walker Art Center.
Her survivors include her husband, three daughters, and six grandchildren.