“The period since the 1960s in particular has seen significant shifts in the perceived role of contemporary art in society, as well as the impact organizations displaying art have on economic and political infrastructures and vice versa. “Identity” attempts to animate the typically fraught relationship between cultural and corporate spheres, as contemporary art institutions become increasingly preoccupied with their own image. How do changes in the graphic identities of art institutions over the last five decades reflect the shifting landscape of institutional policy and strategy? How does the conception of ‘identity’ – through an organization’s use of graphic design, its marketing and branding – function to mediate between audience, artwork, and institution?”
via Artists Space. Coming to Tramway, Glasgow, Fall (or Autumn), 2012
“Every Movement Needs a Logo“ says the New York Times.
“Of 6 established design practices, only @projectprojects understands that Occupy Wall Street does *not* need a symbol.” tweet Metahaven.
OASE Journal for Architecture has a new website and better still, editions 1-81 are available as PDF’s to download to your non-brand-specific portable tablet device. OASE is/has been designed by Dutch designer and educator Karel Martens, and is an exemplary example of design for an organisation which is consistently of the highest quality but which doesn’t need to conform to a rigid template or formula, and is coherent without needing to adhere to the dogma of consistency.
via OASE Journal for Architecture « Visual Communication.
The first of this week’s graphic identities to mark the ten year anniversary of 9/11, this from the Times newspaper. The headline above it is also quite telling. For an insightful analysis of the WTC site and events, from an architectural point of view, this article from Domus makes an interesting read. (Includes mention of a proposal by GSA New Build architect Stephen Holl).
Always a fan of drawing out connections where there are non, we were wondering why everything seems so ‘flat’ at the Design Museum at the moment. What we’re talking about here is about how the exhibitions are presented, rather than the subject of the exhibitions themselves — From the already-quite-flat work of Wim Crouwel*, to the not-at-all flat work of Dieter Rams, subject to a methodical and clinical flattening by Biblioteque, (and the promotional material for the current Kenneth Grange exhibition), we were wondering why this flatness, of a particular 1960’s/70’s variety, seems to be so popular with our leading Design Museum? This minor observation prompts the following wild and ill-informed conjecture:
Is the visual style of late-modernist/swiss-modernist design an easier sell to members of the general public than any other period in design history? Is the proliferation of digital technologies, (and the accompanying explosion of infinite possibilities), creating an inverse movement that is attracted to screenprinting, limited colour palettes, and the denial of the third dimension? Is there something in the air, from political and civil unrest, to financial insecurity, to the brave new web 2.0 of hackgate and wikileaks, that means we find a nostalgic and simplified view of design (and the world) reassuring and comforting?
*The caviat here is that to see Crouwels work in the flesh, it is not ‘flat’, and just to reiterate that this post is talking mainly about the way this work is marketed, partially about how it is curated and reflected upon, and digital emulations of a particular period in the history of Graphic Design.
Where the Cold Wind Blows (on Brand New) documents a dynamic identity for two municipalities — Gamvik and Lebesby — in the county of Finnmark, Norway. This relates, on one level or another, to everything in this blog, but specifically the question of dynamic identity being mistaken for flexible identity, and all identities being flexible, but some being more flexible than others (to coin a coined phrase).
We’re seeing quite a few identities taking advantage of the rise of a) the screen and b) digital print as primary communication tools, to create identities which move, responding to a range of variable ‘input’ data (in this case, the weather) but a lot of which seem to have similar (faceted, gradiated, modular) outcomes. It is noted on the blog that there are indeed aesthetic similarities to the Sagmeister Casa del Musica project.
A refresh for one of the worlds biggest ‘brands’, where ‘make the logo bigger’ is taken to it’s logical conclusion, and both less and more are more. But what do the customers think? Here speaks one, from the erudite comments section on the Creative Review blog;
“Okay, I have to say this. I dont mean this in a derogatory manner, this is just how I read the can. I didnt even see the swirl from the o in coke. Therefore, I read the can as saying “dike” instead of di and oke from the way that it is cropped. In some angles, you cant even see the o. In most of the angles, at first glance, this looks like it reads “dik” or “dike”. What an abomination.”
And to provide the editorial balance for which this blog is renound, if indeed the maxim is correct, this is (part of) what google says the coke brand is.
via Creative Review – Turner Duckworth gives Diet Coke new look.
MoMA design curator, Paola Antonelli, details how brands themselves have changed the landscape of contemporary communication; via States of Design 02: Brand design – Design – Domus.
“I like complexity and contradiction in architecture. I do not like the incoherence or arbitrariness of incompetent architecture nor the precious intricacies of picturesqueness or expressionism. Instead, I speak of a complex and contradictory architecture based on the richness and ambiguity of modern experience, including that experience which is inherent in art. Everywhere, except in architecture, complexity and contradiction have been acknowledged, from Gödel’s proof of ultimate inconsistency in mathematics to T.S. Elliot’s analysis of ‘difficult’ poetry and Joseph Albers’ definition of the paradoxical quality of painting.”
— Robert Venturi
The NASA 1976 Identity Guidelines manage to be both totally unique, and totally typical at the same time, which doesn’t happen much.
Following on from that ‘Google‘ post, the ‘Brand 2.0’ revelations which currently seem to be shaking the traditionally reactive and ‘late to the party’ D&AD to the core, (touched upon here; ‘Let’s Push Things Forward‘), remind me of the truism sung by Ella Fitzgerald/Fun Boy Three feat. Bananara* that it ‘Aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it’.
There’s something telling about the way the tirelessly self-promoting Simon Manchipp (moderator of this discussion) frames the debate, trying to pitch it as some sort of cock-fight between the various presenting creatives and suits, and also noting the bitchy twittersphere ramblings of the audience, concluding with some vague assertions and questions from an audience and panel that seem to know that something is up, but are clueless to address it; “why were designers not engaging with clients at a deeper level? Was change really only surface deep? What about behaviour. Experience. Thinking. Reputation. These are where brands became useful for products, services and organisations… How can we move the debate on to provide some consensus on what we should be worrying about?”
Also brings us back to this question.
*Depending on your age/cultural viewpoint.
** I wasn’t at this event, I’m just commenting on the write up of it.