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"Books by Design 2" Project


See through the whole


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

‘Voices’

Designed by former UNA-Designers (Hans Bockting + Mark Diaper)

As a start of my ‘guiding’ through my research I will write down a few sentences about the designers/design agency of the book. Just a few sentences because the designers doesn’t seem to have the need of sharing a lot of personal background information on the internet, I don’t feel the need of sharing their personal information as well.

Mark Diaper who was part of the UNA design agency at the time of creating the book, founded his own design agency “Eggers + Diaper” (1999, Berlin) together with Birgit Eggers.

The former UNA design agency existed from 1987 untill 2007, founded by Hans Bockting, Will de L’Ecluse and Henk Hoebé, who all went seperate ways by 2008.

quote; “Kenmerkend voor het werk van UNA is de grote aandacht voor het evenwicht tussen vorm en inhoud, oog voor het detail, respect voor traditie en een zekere vorm van speelsheid.(playfullness, !imporant! to translate!, as I found this interesting for my research, looking at the work of Hans Bockting) Eveneens tekenend voor het bureau is de lange relatie met zijn opdrachtgevers. Voor de stad Amsterdam is UNA een belangrijk bureau geweest omdat de meeste opdrachtgevers hier gesitueerd waren.”

“UNA-Designers” is now going on as “Bockting Ontwerpers” (from 2009) runed by Hans Bockting and his wife Sabine Bockting. Hans Bockting is also co-founder of “Traffic Design” and “Concepts”.

 

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The book I chose for this project is titled “Voices”. It is a book named after an exhibition that once took place, which had the same name as the title.

“Voices is an exhibition that brings together works by nine contemporary artists of different origins and generations, discovering the domain of the visual and the material of sound contributed by the human voice”

The choice I made for this book was quite selective. As I scanned through the given booklist, what caught my attention most were titles with the word ‘voice’ in it. Probably because of last years Studium Generale that took place with the subject of ‘voice’, but turns out a subject that I have an interest for. I noticed this strong attraction for this word and decided to find a book related to this subject. Immediately my eye fell on this book with on its front cover the word ‘voices’ with big letters centered between 4 images that are filling up/being part of the front cover. The backside is divided in 2 images. On the front cover there is a hole in the letter “O” of the word ‘voices’. You can not see through the hole because the following page is covering the hole with its white. But when you flip the second page you will see (through) the continuing hole till page 33.

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And there is more which caught my attention inside the design, the ‘dividing’. A thin black line through the center of the pages (horizontally/vertically) is attracting my eye. It’s seems like a strange element in the whole of the design. I want to know about this line. Why do I experience this line as unfitting, and why is it at some pages not reaching the opposite side it should do/ and does in other pages. 3 Languages who are divided by those attention-seekers of lines in many different ways, so many notations within the book, within the design, resulting to a bit of my frustration of not be able to ‘read’ this musical score.

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While looking at other work of Hans Bockting, and getting introduced to a calendar from Hans Bockting (Traffic Design,1980), which I played with for a while, every month/page a different surprise in it’s full meaning, small attachments, opening/closing/lifting-up/changing material/sizes/colours, TACTILE SENSATION & FEEDING FOR THE EYE, again the sheet music work which I can hardly handle following from start until the end, but knowing it works perfectly as a whole. Let’s play it again.

After some plays I questioned myself why for godsake I am always attracted to such a full-filled mixture of information/ images/elements/things going on in, as now researched ,a book,design. Translated into my experience of observation “CHAOS”!

It is for my personal perspective exciting to see as much as possible, as many possible variations of information on a surface , in design, images etc. ! MASS !

I like to see mass and take time to discover every quality within that mass, but at the same time it is in general the case that I get stuck in the beginning of the discovery, losing track of what I am actually seeing while zooming in on a particular element/part, raising questions, no answers, no guide-through,raising frustration,loosing interest in zooming in on the following element, and taking it as a whole, but not really understanding.

Looking at my personal way of living, way of working, WORK, I consider myself as a possible face of the word ‘chaos’. I am attracted to chaos, but I would be happy if the chaos could be read in the way of the music sheets. In my personal way of working, I have taken steps back from mass into simple and clear, to understand the way of quality of less and the non-questionable/for itself-speaking element, in order to get to combining variables into a creation not-longer experienced as chaos as ‘?’,. My so called chaos who creates the heart/ the melody in the music sheets.

I decided to send a letter to Hans Bockting with the question, how Hans Bockting can permit himself the freedom to create such a playful diversity of work.

I did not get any response ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………

…..

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Then at one moment in thought, I looked up in my room, seeing my lamp.

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The circle. my escape out of the chaos.

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I had returned to the holes-element in my chosen book. My melody maker within my daily-life chaos. I saw dots in everything. The very clear round shaped element just made me understand.

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circles.

dots/points/holes.

the simplest element of visual design.

The defining characteristic of a dot is that it’s a point of focused attention. Dots settle themselves in space and provide a reference point relative to the other forms and space around it.

Dots are the focal points in our compositions. Dominance.

Dots create a relationship with the space around it. The two most important relationships formed are the proportion of the dot and the space around it and the position of the dot within that space.

As dots increase in size we start to see them as shapes, but they still retain their dot-like qualities and characteristics. A square placed in the white space of a page is still a dot. It still attracts visual attention to it, which again is the dot’s defining characteristic.

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Dots centrally placed within a composition create symmetry and are neutral and static, though they tend to dominate the space around them. Dots placed off center create asymmetry. They are dynamic and actively influence the space around them.

Serenity is my outcome of the research. I look through the holes of the book again, but now only focussing on what I see through the circle-out-cut on the following page. I will find the rhythm, I will find the voice.

Rietveld library catalog no : 708.5-cat-50

 

PROVO | Amsterdam’s Anarchist Revolt


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Provo | Amsterdam's Anarchist Revolt

designer: Josh MacPhee

 

The title of the book strongly indicates that it is of political context. Being myself concerned with politics, especially in a period of great upheaval (globalization/economical crisis) like the one we are in now, and coming from a country where politics itself plays a significant role in its history ever since the ancient times, this book instantly attracted my attention.

It is recognized that art is part of a practical activity that can change the world. In many cases it comes into existence in response to certain definite problems. Leon Trotsky has written that art can play a dual role within society: That of the mirror and that of the hammer. In other words, what he means by that, is that art has the ability of reflecting the movement of society while also forging consciousnesses inside it. Provo is representative of such case.

Provo is based on a political struggle in the mid 60′s, that focused on provoking violent responses from authorities using non-violent bait. It is an Amsterdam-based anarchist, political, social and art movement. Its interventions where staged into the symbolic and everyday spaces of Holland. What is interesting to look at, is that the activists involved with this movement, where really creating their own distinctive posters, graphics and other forms of art, such as political spectacles and street theater, illustrating their beliefs and intentions.

Walls and words, silk-screen posters and hand printed flyers where the revolutionary media passed out in public. The Provo radicals would carry out total black or even totally blank banners, purposely provoking the police in a ‘ludic’ attitude. They would relate themselves to Dada, constructivist movements, Bauhaus and other Russian ways.

wit

They took existing rules and decided to play within them, to see how far they could push the limits of those rules.
They were not allowed to use actual slogans, so they decided to use unwritten banners. They made use of the ambiguous nature of play: They were protesting, but at the same time not protesting. There were no forbidden slogans on their banners, but at the same time, the slogans were ever so present throughout their absence.

 

pro0102-provo-artists-book-god-nederland-oranje  Anarchy

 

http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/provo/

http://www.experimentaljetset.nl/archive/interview-graphic-no-24

 

It is a simple, black & white book. Its design is intentionally simple, in this way successfully highlighting the content of the book, erasing any type of decorative matter. Looking at it’s outline, it is clearly characterized within the Provo attitude. It is not modern or in any way trying to draw attention through some kind of unusual graphic design. The pages are matte and the text produced with a bold, black typeface. The only evident, decorative detail are some thick black lines and squares either on the sides and bottoms of each page or in the beginning of a new chapter. The ink on the paper seems quite thick, giving the impression that if you rub the pages in the book you are almost able to scent, as well as feel it.

Consequently, it successfully carries out a very strong depiction, that the book itself, could be an original Provo pamphlet or poster. The do-it-yourself feeling is well portrayed through its design. The cover of the book itself is also represented by a successfully eye-catching Provo poster, illustrating a pair of gigantic feet ready to be chopped off by a tiny white figure.

 

Photographic documentation from the book:

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The designers background totally reflects upon the the books context and therefore explains his design. Josh MacPhee is a Brooklyn based artist, activist and archivist. He is also a print-maker and a self-taught historian of 21st century left politics. He established a distribution system called ‘Justseeds’, a decentralized, worker-owned cooperative of twenty-five other artists. Justseeds relates to social and environmental movements and issues in order to get more radical art projects out to the public. Their work illustrates an extraordinary aesthetic range of radical movements during the past 50 years and explores the rise of powerful countercultures that evolve beyond traditional politics, creating distinct forms of art, lifestyles and social organizations. MacPhee’s simple aim is to use art, such as visual and graphic work, to inject protest politics into public discourse.

Besides Justseeds, MacPhee also organizes  the ‘Celebrate Peoples History Poster Project’, an ongoing poster series in which  different artists create posters to document and remember moments in radical history. He himself, has a big collection on political posters. For instance, he collects Cuban political posters as, while according to him, they are some of the “most aesthetically diverse, experimental and impactful in the history of political posters.”

http://www.justseeds.org/subjects/anarchism/

 

We cannot delude ourselves. No art has ever only served itself. We ought to support and defend the art born within resistance, the art which fights and contributes to equality and fairness.

 

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Josh MacPhee :
No Fence Uncut /offset printed postcard • Three Steps /3 color screenprint 

Rietveld library catalog no : 947.6 kem 1

A wise man


Thursday, October 30, 2014

I chose this book because of it’s dark red crocodile/snake like cover, with its light blue text. The cover is soft and flexible, but still stable and firm. I spotted the book immediately by its contrasting colors, and small thick size. I like the fact that the first two, and last two pages associates to the cover by their light blue block color, clear of text. The design is strong, graphic and individual.
The book is mostly all text, except for one page with a picture of a painting.
But i really like how the text is setup in ‘boxes’ placed in the middle of the page, very simple.

The book is called ‘De Komedie Van De Overeenkomsten’, designed by Felix Janssens a dutch graphic designer that lives in Holland. He is now working as Creative director at the company Total Identity. I’ve been talking with the designer over email about this very special and eye-catching book of his, and he agreed to answer a few question for me.

 

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Why did you chose this cover/design?

The cover is part of a series ‘beschouwelijk werk’ (reflections) of renowned historians. I always look at publishing houses like Gallimard or Penguin, how they made these series…. only type, but in a way it pops! by making it physical with the leathers it really became something tactile, a sensation for the senses. But its not only the cover that matters, the interior is like a comfortable living space.. comfortable, with some sparky details. Smooth papers, easy to hold in your hands for a longer time…
The type, the combination of the industrial Egyptiëne display font and a Garamond-like body typeface, the mirrored border on the cover…. an art-deco appraoch that fitted well to the titles in the series.

 

Did you decide on your own, how the design was going to turn out, or did the author have any inputs?

Since the concept was applied for more books like Cioran, Blumenthal, Barthes and others, it was finding the right combination of colours and textures.

 

barthes_werkelijkheidseffec blue-yellow-shade

 

Why those colors?

Red and blue, complementary… high contrast… and like you wrote, a blue that’s off normal, slightly lighter than you would expect… making it look younger. Juvenile.

 

Why the size?

The size is comfortable in you hands while reading. Slightly more wide than a pocket would be. It makes it more like a little catalog…

 

How long did it take you to figure out the design?

I can’t recall, but normally these processes start with an intuitive idea,

which becomes starting point and goal, without being a dogma or fixated idea…
Its the accumulation of what you’ve seen without being concrete yet. Typography and book design, it’s pure intuition for me. The moment one starts to rationalize or describe it, it becomes false. It’s the space of pure abstraction which you have to keep ‘open’, which you have to prevent from putting to literal meanings (design) on top of it.

 

What does your agenda look like when you get a job to design a book? Where do you begin, and how many samples do you go through, before you find the right one?

You’re right it’s a generational process. More recent i designed in collaboration with the artist Willem Oorebeek the book Monolith2, starting with a white book to be filled. It was like a painting process.
Normally book design is about planning, this time it was like growing, creating, shaping, molding… very interesting. And different!
For a good book, physical qualities play a big role. So different samples in weights, binding types and finishes are being made. Also for the series of the HU/Beschouwelijk Werk.

 

I’ve discovered that you have been using the same design, for other books writing by other authors, but in different colors, whats the idea behind that?

Like i said before, to create a series, with enough differentiation between the volumes, colour combinations are like a personal comment on each book.

 

What is your opinion of this book?

Danto as very specific ideas about art and art history. Radical, and unconventional. I like that.
To be honest, i don’t feel myself equipped to judge about this book- I am more influenced by philosophers, economists and sociologists.

 

Do you often buy books mainly because you get fascinated by its look?

Do I buy books? less and less. After collecting books for years, 4 years ago I stopped buying books. It just didn’t give meaning anymore. I think that most designers collect books for their looks, the design or the designer. Just a few actually get read.
So it was with me. I rather preferred experiencing things in reality… Now I buy/want a book because of it’s content, the overview it gives me. So books now fascinate me by the content, regardless of their looks. But if they look good, it’s not too bad ;-)

 

Would an ugly/less attractive book cover/design (in your opinion) keep you from buying or looking into the book?

No, an ugly book may enter my domain. You wouldn’t discriminate a child or dog by it’s looks either? It’s their inside what matters.
Would you trust somebody who’s too good looking? But it proofs that design is just a dream, a phantasy when disconnected from it’s primary function. A book, a chair, a bread, a bicycle, all objects we use.
But now, Bread can be bought for more then 5 euros on the Noordermarkt! a bread! how about that? That Bread is more like a conversation piece for guests and friends…it’s a today’s authenticity fetish. 4 slices of industrial fabricated C1000 bread allow me to cycle for 200km. The c1000 bread is the ‘ugly book’ under the breads, yet it’s functional.
The Noordermarkt bread is the ‘design book’ under the breads- it is validated by it’s “sign-value”.

 

Do you always work in colors?

The Identity color codes project learned me a lot about colors. About the psychological dimensions apart from cultural differences. It tought me a lot about the limits of symbols. Colour is free, free to use, to adapt to. It’s inclusive. Symbols are exclusive.

 

What is your top 3 favorite book designs?

It can be any type of books, just 3 that caught your eye and you have to own them.
I lost a great part of my collection/archive a few years ago…. but these ones I carried with me
Walter Nikkels made a beautiful book with Lothar Baumgarten “Carbon”, The Custom Road bike or Viewing Matters from Hans Haacke

Rietveld library catalog no : 700.6-dan-2

She put a spell on me


Thursday, October 30, 2014

 

Boezem

The book was staring at me. With its big shiny, purple letters saying BOEZEM, the Dutch word for bosom, and its firm, solid appearance, almost like a brick. What could this book be about? Anyway, this title, the bookmaker must definitely have been aware of the confronting and maybe also provocative impact it has on its audience. Me, in this case. I found it daring. I found it also daring that there was no picture, no nothing on the cover, except for those letters. I felt like touching the book.

I lifted it from the shelves and it surprised me once again. Whereas I had considered the book as quite minimalistic and probably consisting of just the two colours black and purple, it actually had this very subtle grey pattern on the side, looking a bit like stars in the galaxy. When opening the book it had more surprises for me. So much information! Totally not the white, sterile pages that I had expected, with maybe equally sterile pictures and once in a while a minimalistic amount of text. There were drawings, there was text, dark green as well, and both black and white pictures and full-page colour prints…

 

 

 

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“I want to make books with a high amount of density and content.”

Says Irma Boom, the designer of BOEZEM. You can say that in that sense, this one is a very typical book of hers. Just during a first sec google-investigation, I found out that she is probably the most famous Dutch book designer of the moment and that she has made over 250 books. It made me wonder; if I had known this designer Irma Boom, would I have known that the design of BOEZEM was hers? In other words: if a person makes this many books, is his or her ‘handwriting’ visible in every single one of the books? Is it even inevitable? And maybe even more important: would a clearly visible signature of the designer rather thwart or support a proper presentation of what the book is about?

 

It made me wonder about what it specifically is in that makes people like her books so much. I knew that I had already experienced it in kind of an intuitive way, when getting drawn to her design for BOEZEM. And the way I responded to this book must be an experience a lot of people have when seeing one of her books. Otherwise, she would not have been praised so much as a book designer. But what are the more concrete causes for this?

In order to find out more, first I decided to get more informed about her books; about what kind of projects she has done and about the books` appearances. I started searching on the internet for interviews and articles and I also went to the bookshop Nijhof & Lee that has two bookshelves dedicated to Irma Boom`s designs. To get more of an overview, to hold the books, and experience them as the objects they are. Some of her projects that were the most striking to me, seemed to be also the most famous.

For example, there is the SHV Thinkbook (not in the book shop) which is a jubilee book for SHV, a family owned company with interests mainly in the energy-industry and it is a collaboration between Boom and the art historian Johan Pijnappel. It weighs a little less than 4 kilograms, has 2136 pages and is made up of poems, quotes, letters, advertising, interviews, reports, speeches, memos and photographs from the company`s archive. The book has no page numbers, because it is not meant to be read from beginning to end, but as a ‘voyage’; you have to discover things by coincidence. The touch of Irma Boom becomes maybe the most expressed in all the little details: the poem on the side, the text on the cover that only becomes visible after the book is being used, the fact that there are a lot of pictures in it of family members with their dogs…

Another example is N°5 Culture Chanel, a book printed with no ink, because all the text and all the images are embossed. Just like the perfume, you see it, but it`s not there. This book as well has some interesting detail. The book for instance has a height of 5 centimeters, referring to the name of the perfume, and it is fully white and goes in a black box, referring to the relation between Chanel and black and white.
Furthermore, there is Colour Based on Nature, which consists of colour diagrams that are derived from 80 natural locations designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The book pages have to be torn open in order to let more diagrams appear. Another notorious example is Sheila Hicks: Weaving as a metaphor. One of the many beautiful details are the rough edges that refer to Hick`s tapestry.
Just some examples, but they already show how varied the projects are that Boom has done. Every book is a totally different object, having an original style adapted to the subject and interesting new details, and with a totally different format.
 

“Perhaps every book I make is kind of a failure that I constantly  want to improve by the next book.”

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But still this does not necessarily exclude that there are some resemblances throughout Boom’s designs, because there definitely are. They differ from returning details – little obsessions maybe – to approach of book design, but one thing is clear: they are indispensable for a Boom-design.
What the books are known for in the first place, is their object-like quality; they are almost like pieces of architecture. This I experienced when seeing BOEZEM and having the association of a brick. Boom sees the book as a container of a lot of information, an ongoing thing, with a permanent quality (of spreading information), in contrast to the internet. And this of course should be manifested in and attained by the design of the book. This is also why the book’s edges are almost always incorporated into the overall design: to make it one whole. Besides, a lot of the books ask for interaction and this way a relation is stimulated between the viewer and the content.
Next to that, attention to detail is what is most essential for a Boom-book. Through those exceptional details, Boom is really able to make –mostly symbolic– links between design and content. Otherwise there is these recurrent little features Boom seems to be fan of, such as embossing, reversed chronological order, and every publishers` worst nightmare: the white cover.
But actually most of all, her books scream uncommonness, everything in it is opposite of what you would expect.
So, the designs certainly have things in common and are in that way sort of connected, very much also approach-wise. You can call this Irma Boom’s signature, but I think it would go too far to define her signature by an obviously present personal ‘imprint’.

But let’s get back to the other questions I raised in the beginning of the article. As a book designer, is it actually desirable to have your signature visible in your designs? And if not, is it even avoidable?
 

“Making a book you should do with your heart, intuitively”

If this is Boom’s belief, how can her own ideas and preferences of aesthetics not prevail? But still, by saying that she wants to make the book for someone and not just a book, you might actually conclude that Irma Boom tries to keep out anything that refers to herself, as a book designer and as a person, so the book can be fully centred around its subject. You could translate this statement of her as the aim for objectivity. But just have a quick look at her books, and you are assured that her books are far from objective. Her taste, her humour, and her willingness to experiment always become apparent.

And the fusion of Boom with a subject, it seems to work. The adding of a little subjectivity, so to speak, seems to lift the subject. It seems to give it a structure, a context, a voice maybe… This effect is also enhanced by the fact that she is often the editor of a book as well. Maybe this kind of ‘subjectivity’ that Boom incorporates in her designs is part of what makes her so successful. So, in case of Irma Boom, she is sort of depending on her signature and thus it is very desirable for her and her audience.

From a different viewpoint, if someone, a publisher, a company, or an artist asks her if she wants to make a book for them, wouldn’t they want, the ‘handwriting’ of Boom, to shine through in the design a little bit? She is so renowned that it is such an honour if she makes a book for you. Let it be visible, they would probably think. Besides, it obviously sells better when people know that she is the designer, or it could mean something very good for one`s career… look at Sheila Hicks. The many awards winning book that Boom made for her, instantly gave her a huge career boost. Of course, you can also question why customers buy one of Boom’s books in the first place. Is it because they are actually drawn to the book itself? Or is it because they are drawn to the fact that the famous Irma Boom has done the design? Looking at it in this way, does Boom’s signature perhaps stand in the way of properly presenting the subject? Anyway, fact is that the people she makes books for are almost always very content with the outcome. And who knows better if the subject is well presented, than the subject itself?

Simple as it is, that is what Boom does: she evokes excitement. At the time, her own wild ideas excited herself, and through realising them she shares with us that feeling. Going for the realization of these wild ideas, it also takes some courage, and I think this is also something a lot of people respond to. Boom is not afraid. She is not afraid to personally connect herself to the subject, she is not afraid to not know at forehand what the exact outcome will be, she is not afraid to take her time (it took her five years to finish the SHV book), and she is definitely not afraid to do the uncommon. But most of all, she is not afraid to disappoint her clients or to not do what they want. The risk-taking in combination with her ingenuity and eye for beauty are always the recipe for a special result. Most people love this specialness, but of course a risk-taker has a lot of enemies as well. In the beginning it took Boom probably a lot more courage to not listen to them than nowadays, since she is a very respected and many awards-winning book designer.

It all started with that very intuitive attraction to a book that turned out to be made by one of the world`s most famous book designers. Now it ends with me feeling like having at least partly unraveled the magic behind it. But even if I might have unravelled the magic a little bit, the spell that Irma Boom`s books put on me, is definitely not broken.

Rietveld library catalog no : 05547

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Esther de Vries is a graphic designer specialized in book design. Among many projects, she made two books on her father, the sculptor Auke de Vries. The two books, dealing with the same artist, are yet very different, the first one, Auke de Vries Photo Archives, being much more intimate than the second one, Auke de Vries: Sculptures, drawing and work in public space, which is more meant as an chronological overview on the evolution of the artistic career  of Auke de Vries. But what is surprising is that both books are very different from the first impression the reader can get just by watching the cover.

 

 

Indeed, at first sight and because of its very strong cover and size, the biggest book seems to be one of those very classical and sometimes deadly boring art books that present an exhaustive view of the work of an artist. But going into the design and the content of the volume you can experience it as an actual novel object. A lot of different materials are used in the book, making it exciting to go through, and a great importance is accorded to the process, thus gathering a collection of sketches, photographs and forms that helped or influenced the artist with his sculptures, and even pictures of the artist working in his studio. On all those pictures the text is set in an unquestionable playful way, sometimes even covering the images.

 

 

 

An other particularity that makes the book playful and thrilling is the use of very thin pages presenting a compilation of different forms, cut from a photograph of a work of the artist and magnified. Those pages refers to the collection of forms that the artist developed and used constantly in his work. Esther was keen to scatter that through the pages as, what she calls, an alphabet.

 

 

 

As for Photo Archives, the fabric and very simple cover makes it look at first glance as a secondary book, very small and discreet, soft, not meant to go through the years as the other one. But once more the design and content makes it very special, in a precious and sprightly way. While the other book is meant to present mainly the evolution of the artist’s works, this photography book shows through the collection of pictures the process that took place even before the artworks, as a wandering in the thoughts of the artist.

 

 

Here the relation to the reader is completely unusual, as there is no chronological order or reading direction. The reader, who is more a viewer since

there is no text, can open the book in the middle, at the end, or open the same page again and again, led to wander in the same way that the artist was wandering when he took those pictures.

 

archive_04

 

This is also a quite seducing book, designed between rule and coincidence with a set of colors and places for the pictures that are sometimes cut in two by the Japanese binding, leading the reader to focus on a particular shape that recalls Auke de Vries’ work. I noticed that the two books are very different from the first feeling you can get from them.

 

Yet, maybe Esther’s work, or at least these two books, deals a lot with feeling. That is to say the very strong feeling that the reader gets or is given in both cases of the close connection between the work of the artist and the design of the books. They pay homage to this work. It might has to do with the fact that both books where initiated by Esther herself, and not commisioned, hence the liberties in the design. This is also caused by the very long process that the designer went through while making those books, meticulously choosing each picture and composition, trying all the colors with each image again and again, changing direction until being fully satisfied, regardless of time.

 

All that makes both works very touching and the enthusiasm of the designer becomes very apparent, discovering a treasure made of all those pictures and willing to share it, making it as complete as possible to preserve the emotion aroused by the pictures themselves.

Rietveld library catalog no : Vrie 5 (

Rijksmuseum library catalog no : 832 E 13 (

k-r-k > eflux > art essay > web journal > printed reader > automated design


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Publication: e-flux journal, Hito Steyerl – The Wretched of the Screen

Publisher: Sternberg Press

Designer: Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon

 

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e-flux sprung out as an autonomous platform for art critique and comissioned art theoretical essays in 1998, eventually launching a monthly online publication consisting of a text heavy PDF in near A4 format, in 2008.

Jeff Ramsey (of design studio Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon) studied graphic design at Werkplaats Typografie in the Netherlands around the same time as e-flux was drafting their online publication. Through a local contact he was given the design assignment, containing few artistic restrictions. Working with a programmer he developed a tool that would operate according to a number of pre-determined rules (i.e. pictures should stand alone on pages, be placed as close as possible to their point of reference in the text, be sized according to importance; which in turn are factors assigned by the writer or editor, not the designer, when feeding the text into the template).

The first 5 issues of e-flux journal were supervised by the designer but have since been laid out solely by the editors of e-flux. The template tool is thus a wysiwyg-layout software custom made for this particular purpose.

As the number of web based journals grew e-flux aspired to publish a physical, printed paper reader; grouping new and previous essays by theme. Some of thus far 9 published readers are named/themed:

What Is Contemporary Art? / Are You Working Too Much? Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art / Moscow Syposium: Conceptualism Revisited / The Wretched of the Screen / Culture Class / Going Public

For consistency, the printed reader is almost an exact, but cropped, version of the online journal, fitting one column of text per page instead of two

(see below)

 

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(PDF  journal in grey, paper reader in white)

 

e-flux has gravitated towards simplistic and to-the-point design since the beginning.: ie helvetica was their web type. In order to connect the journals to the existing material Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon wanted to use a “quite-like-Helvetica-but-not-Helvetica” typeface for e-flux, hence purchasing Akkurat by Laurence Brunner from Lineto, arranging the text to reminisce of the original on-screen reading. Pages are filled edge to edge with a sans serif type. Short margins, vertically oriented notes (page numbers/titles/etc) clearly differentiate it from, for instance, the pocket sized novel, which would often be printed in a similar shape and format.

 

 

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The design is intentionally simple in material as well as execution; highlighting the content without decoration or gloss. No waxed paper is featured (not even the soft and fairly fragile cover). Pages are deliberately matte, uniform and sobre. A dignified quality is communicated when the recipient holds a copy of the reader in their hand. The format is small, slightly below A5, fitting comfortably in one hand – yet thick enough not to be flimsy. This is a type of printed matter that lends itself to be carried, used and actually red without becoming tattered. It is also a book who’s look wouldn’t suffer if it did, since no ambition towards “pretty” is made.

 

Aside from e-flux Kloepfer-Ramsey-Kwon work with other large art clients such as MoMA, Carnegie, Whitney Museum and Guggenheim. Catering to art institutions as well as individual artists (for book and graphic design) has been a conscious strategy. The co-founders wished for greater freedom to execute their ideas – which they often get when working with artist – contrasting institutions, which tend to be more bureaucracy oriented and constricted by earlier graphic profile, printing methods, etc. K-R-K also believe that the art circuit allows for a greater intellectual challenge for them as design professionals, for instance: inviting the client to collaborate on an assignment might lead to ideas and solutions the designers alone wouldn’t have arrived at.

 

The actual design process varies, from luck/intuition with “first version is the best version” to long stretches of tedious pushing, tweaking for weeks until a direction which is ready to be presented to the client appears. Strategically, all while being able to produce large volumes of work (see Saddam Hussein covers) the designers prefer to present only one idea to the client.

“We are constantly going for higher quality work, so we keep on sketching – but once we arrive to something we believe in, we’ll present that and start re-working it with the client.” – Jeff Ramsey

 

Rietveld library catalog no : stey1

The Indefinable Nature of Graphic Design


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book cover

 

In the following essay, an almost complete series of books will be discussed in comparison to each other, regarding the design, layout, and publishing choices that the respected artists/designers or publishers had to face. The books in question (both written and designed by) are: Talks About Money by John Barclay, I Heard They Ripped It Off by Robin Ekemark & Brita Lindvall, 37 Assignments by Indrek Sirkel, Can I Make Everybody Happy? by Dag Brandsæter & Noa Segal, and Our Daily Debates by Nina Støttrup Larsen.
The books in this series enquire into the different fields of graphic design, where the basic understanding of what graphic design actually is seems equivocal. They investigate this lack of definition in the different fields as a means to contribute to an otherwise arbitrary profession. The focus will be on Can I Make Everybody Happy?, which will be used as a base for comparison with the other books of the series.

All books share a similar front cover, namely a white background, with a black stripe of thick spray-paint horizontally across, that sometimes covers the title. If you place the whole series next to each other, you will see that the lines join up, and it looks like one fat line of spray-paint on a white, clean surface. The title is written in a specific font that is used throughout each book differently, including fonts such as Comic Sans for Talks About Money or Courier New for 37 Assignments also seen below. In I Heard They Ripped It Off, Robin Ekemark and Brita Lindvall created a new font for themselves in “an attempt to tell a story from the closest point of a source”.

 

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Can I Make Everybody Happy? designers Dag Brandsæter and Noa Segal had decided to compose the book of emails that had been sent back and forth between colleagues that mostly disagree on plans concerning the graphic design of specific, unknown projects. Ironically however, is that the blurb on the back describes how confrontations by e-mail are prone to make people aggressive and defensive, and that matters are best discussed face to face. This ironic addition to the production of the work coincides with the theme of the series, namely to investigate the miscommunication in the graphic design world.

In comparison to Can I Make Everybody Happy?, the layout in Talks about Money is a similar type of communication. Dialogue is displayed in speech-bubble format, discussing how much graphic designers can sell their work for. There are, like every other book in the series, chapters, which in this case are divided into a logical structure of explanation. Unlike Can I Make Everybody Happy?, the content is a constructive discussion, where graphic designers ask themselves how much they are worth, further accentuation the lack of definition within graphic design. Below is a picture to get an idea.

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In I Heard They Ripped It Off, the chapters are a lot less distinguishable. There are no chapters, as this is a retelling of a story about a specific project, the “Experimental Jetset”. There are divisions sometimes, to make the reader pause for effect, with a blank page. I heard They Ripped It Off seems like a personal encounter with the graphic design choices that have to take place during a project. The retelling of the story in the book feels more personal with this custom scribbled font. 37 Assignments focuses on the variety in 37/100 chosen graphic design assignments over the course of 2002 – 2007 at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, to investigate potential patterns with the projects. To preserve the voice of the teachers, the texts are edited as little as possible: only specific dates are removed to make the assignments timeless and universal. All Assignments are presented anonymously, in an attempt to stress the entire approach of the department not simply the individual assignments. In a way, this book differs from all of the previously discussed, and dives into an almost scientific way of investigating graphic design.

Our Daily Debates is another new approach to investigating the indefinable nature of graphic design. The book is structured like a script, between Nina, Sirkel, and some other colleagues. They joined together to debate about graphic design, their future profession. In a way, this book is similar to I Hear They Ripped It Off, as the wall between reader and writer is once again broken down by the layout choices of the book.

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Subsequently, the series contains a variety of books that each contains their own specific design and content layout, sometimes seeming totally unrelated. However, the indefinable nature of graphic design is thoroughly reflected and investigated upon in these books, due to their contrast in content, difference in font choice, or disparity of the choices made to display the content. Therefore, the series works successfully together as a whole to provide a tangible examination of an indefinable, arbitrary, profession.

 

Can I make everybody happy?: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 bra1

I Heard They Ripped It Off: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 eke1

Our Daily Debates: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 stö 1

37 Assignments: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 sir 1

Talks about Money: Rietveld library catalog no : 750.1 bar 1

Untitled : September Issue


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Untitled September Magazine, by Paul Allman

 

In the book Untitled September Magazine by Paul Elliman designed by Julie Peeters, you can find about 600 pages of glossy magazine, including scans from Vogue amongst other brands that make the book indefinable in the first place. You have to go inside and try and read another kind of ‘text’, that is not said in words, but images, textures, and relations.

Note: Whilst working on the research, I made a box to transport the book, as transporting this big soft book without damaging it is impossible, there is a picture below. The box is a case of wood with felt on the inside, and the quote from ‘A September magazine’ (seen below) was laser-cut on the inside of the lid, in case that someone loses the paper. Before I started researching the book, the first instinct I had was to build the box, as a way to get more attached to the book, before getting into the details. The laser cut was added later on, as I thought it would be a nice addition to the box.

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The book was published in 2013, inside you find a collection of scanned pictures from magazines, which is important for the perception of the details of the images themselves. With this you can also even sometimes feel the texture of the print. Paul Elliman collected the images for many years, roughly 10 years. However, according to colleague Julie Peteers, nobody is really sure of how long Paul has been collecting. In the end, Paul Elliman had this collection of photos, as he is a designer/typographer, and assembled them.
Before the book was published, the images were presented in a different perspective, namely an exhibition of 2 posters. For example, a poster designed by Paul Elliman called I can no longer drink Tea, seen below, published by Colophon and Casco, as a contribution to the exhibition Latent Stare at Casco, Utrecht (link).
The book itself was a part of an exhibition by Paul, hosted in the MOMA in 2012, and the book was presented as one of the objects.

 

 

He exhibited the Paul Elliman at MOMA book lying on the floor

lying next to a brick with the same measurements as the book. The effect of this is that the nature of the book is not a book anymore, but it has transformed into an object that is treated more like a sculpture of a book, with insides physically visible as details of a sculpture.

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I can no longer drink tea, Paul Elliman for Casco

 

Paul Elliman joined with Julie Peeters to put all these images together. In the beginning there were a lot more images, but they had to select images one bye one, to determine which pictures would make the cut. The major work was that they put the images together one by one, and make decisions about what details, rhythms, forms, or psychological relationships would exist or were created. At the first glance, the book is very thick, which is also the reason for the name September Magazine, which comes from a concept belonging to Vogue. Vogue would always publish their thick winter issue in September, which resulted in Julie and Paul deciding to imitate this magazine structure. For example, you have foldout pages of certain images that are similar pages to that of the magazine in Vogue. Unlike a magazine, the structure is very different. There are no constrictions, descriptions, texts, or information anywhere on the pages, as the pages are exclusively close up shots of picture scans. However, uncharacteristic photos in the book are sometimes seen, like pornography, or ‘disgusting’ images. That gives a different tone to the book, totally different from a fashion magazine. And after a time, after seeing relationships in the pages, it is like seeing storyboards between pictures that create a rhythm from one picture to the next. Because the book is mostly about fashion, humans, and society, Paul and Julie managed to reshape the human form as it where, with strange oppositions.

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After studying and ‘reading ‘the book many times, you see types of languages or feelings that you can interpret in your own way, each their own. There are parts of shapes and combinations of close-up parts and bodies, put together in a certain way, that create movement. It makes you want to flip the page, until you have seen all the images. The only piece of text that was found in the book was a small quote on a note between the first pages that supports this feeling:

It lives, it breathes, it gives off – fragrance?
I don’t know what it gives, a vibration that
we can not name because there is no name for it;
even when my patron said “name it”;
there is no name

-       HD, A September magazine

To conclude; Untitled September Magazine is a collection of images of magazine scans details that are put together in such a specific way, that you start to see relationships, patterns, and rhythms that together form a unique feeling of an exhibition, rather than a normal book.[x]

 

Rietveld library catalog no : ell 1

 
if you want to read more on paul Elliman [link]

MVRDV Buildings


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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The reason why I chose this specific book was its colour and image placed next and on top of each other. It has caught my eye and wanted me to read and analyze its content. Page after page I began to realize there was a type of system that the designer, Joost Grootens carried out.

MVRDV Buildings, published by 010 Publishers, is a complete overview of MVRDV’s architectural practice over a total of 20 years. To me, this has been a positive discovery while analyzing the book. It was a very good surprise. I am very much interested in architecture. The way I have understood it was that the designer has deliberately chosen and created a way of method to display and present this portfolio of this architect firm. My impression was that this “method” is a way of telling a nice story or even a nice joke. A way to share important information with people. (click on the title page image and browse the 11 consecutive images)

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.51.42 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.51.33 MVRDV Buildings Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.11 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.16 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.24 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.30 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.38 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.52.41 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.53.14 Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.53.59  Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 21.54.32

 

Another consequence was that I got to explore Joost Grootens own book. The book called I swear I use no art all, has been written by the designer and summarizes 100 books, 18788 pages of his book designs throughout 10 years in that field. The interesting part is to see how, the originally architectural-designer became a graphic information-designer. The book describes his relation to publishers, supporters, authors, collaborators, printers, workplaces and studios. A very personal way to present the changes and development that his own working field. It has made me realize how nice it is to make a summary of your own development. Even though I can not yet make a summary and create a descriptive portfolio of the last 10 years of my work-field I have already imagined creating the mapping of my family or origin.

(click on the cover and browse the 2 consecutive images)

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A part which describes the beginning in a overview, showing how one project led to another by encounters or collaborations and led into a new project, caught my interest. The designer has focused on presenting how non-book projects evolved into book projects. This made me think about my own encounters I had in my life that has influenced some decisions made later. Furthermore, allowed me to think in a non project based way. It also made me think of the origin and allow me to imagine the beginning.

As a personal mapping I was first interested in looking online for my origin in order to see routes and possibilities to reach Santiago, the origin of my father, and Budapest, the origin of my mother. I have also looked for the distance between Amsterdam and Budapest. Nowadays, it is very easy to travel between my hometown and Amsterdam which is the city I have chosen and encountered on my own. I had first visited and met this country at the age of 16 and already new that one day it would be my home. Due to the fact that I can not connect to my origin nor to my parents because of their divorce I currently have to focus on the present and the decisions I have to make every day. Choosing to study but first of all choosing to apply to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie has happened by chance. Through the Academy I have also encountered the Design Academy in Eindhoven. These two Academies are important in this case because interestingly Joost Grootens who graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie is now a teacher in the Design Academy.

At this point I have immediately remembered my past with both academy’s. At one point in the last two years I have met students in Eindhoven who have shared a lot about their work process and further information of their studies. This also made me consider to apply to that school. Although I have never succeeded to enter the Design Academy I have, as a result, got to know the Rietveld more.
Once again, choosing >MVRDV Buildings< still proves how interested I am in design, how fascinated I am about architecture.

I knew I had a good feeling about the book’s black cover.

(click on the map and browse the 2 consecutive images)

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To conclude; black to me is a colour. It is a comfort zone and also a strong feeling I have towards it. Black to me is the house I wanted to have and the friends I wanted to play with as a child. Black is also the material I preferably wear during my daily life and it is the ink I like to draw with. Black will never leave me and will always be part of my decisions in the future.

Talks about Money: Rietveld library catalog no : 716.9 rub 1

Syndicate of original and contemporary typography


Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Typeface as Program: Applied Research and Development in Typography
Designed by David Keshavjee and Julien Tavelli

 

The book “Typeface as Program” is a book about the graduation project of David Keshavjee and Julien Tavelli. They graduated at the ECAL/University of Art and Design [x] in Lausanne, Switserland.
The first thing you will notice when you see this book is, of course, the cover. As seen in the picture, this cover contains the colours red, white and black. I think this, and the typeface on the cover appealed to me the most at first sight. It also seems like a book that makes you move closer, because you see the cover but you cannot read at first side what is written on the cover, because it’s vertical. You also do not yet really understand what it is about and what you will find inside. As the title is situated very small in the left corner, it draws you come closer. When you read it, Typeface as Program, more questions pop up. What is this book about? Why did they situated the words like this?

 

When you open the book you’ll see a very outstanding orange colour which I really like.

front page

Next you will see the table of contents and introduction. What I don’t really like about that is that it’s vertical written, so you have to turn the book which is not very practical. It does look nice.

What I already mentioned in the beginning, is the typeface. If you actually start to read this book you’ll find out the whole book is about this typeface and how they developed and produced it.

 

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A view into the book about their graduation project

 

The size is a little bit smaller then A4-size, which I also like because it fits easily into my bag, and A4 mostly doesn’t. The cover is soft but not too soft. The size and the material makes the book approachable because it is not too big and heavy to open it.

The book is representing the graduation project of Keshavjee and Tavelli collaborated by other people. The project “Creating tools, Using tools” earned Keshavjee and Tavelli the Federal Design Grant in 2009 [x]. This project is realised by several steps. They decided to develop their own tools. First they programmed a script that could automatically generate character sets based on a group of specified variables. Then, with the digital font they created, they made wood types and an automatic layout tool.

 

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Pictures of the handmade woodcuts they made for their typeface

 

By combining these tools, they printed the posters seen in the beginning of the book. Using a digital font and manual wood types, they wanted to contrast different kinds of typographic languages.
In the result you can see the programmed randomness. Their type design is impossible to regenerate with either only traditional- or digital methods. The typeface was based on the idea that the, let’s call it, “DNA” was only containing the letters “o” and “n”, and from those two letters on they built the complete Latin alphabet.

 

The typeface is called “Programme”. Primitiv is the first version, which was automatically generated. Its very light, almost like a sketch with a skeletal structure. Later they made more calligraphic cuts. In the typeface it’s possible to see marks made by pen, brushes or computer. The typeface looks, even though its automatically generated, almost like an old typeface.

 

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Programme, 2009, Keshavjee&Tavelli’s typeface they made as a graduation project

 

After their graduation project they, of course, didn’t sit still. They continued a lot to work in an experimental way combining different tools and using them in a twisted way, to try to reach an innovating and interesting effect. Seen in the catalog “Acid Test”, their first experiments with chemical products.

 

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Acid Test, 2010, in collaboration with Tatiana Rihs and Körner Union

 

In this book, they tried to work completely manual, without computer but with for example tape, razor blades, acids or brushes. They were trying to understand better how colours on colours overlay and how chemicals would react on other material. “Les impressionists Magiques” is a final product of the best outcomes they got by using these new tools, shapes and gestures. They try to see the good also in “mistakes” and unexpected surprises. It marks their work. They push tools to their boundaries and use them in a wrong/different way to get new results.

 

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Maximage Formula Guide, 2011

 

They made several more catalogs, booklets, posters for festivals and record covers. Also, they work a lot in collaboration with other artists. Their latest is “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books of the year 2013″. Again they combined new methods, for example all the parameters in the book are changing all the time. Furthermore are some pages glossy and some aren’t. I think this is an innovating view on typography to use subtle and original gestures. They also used different screening types. This all comes out in a book full of varieties [x].

 

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The most beautiful Swiss Books, 2013

 

 

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La Grida Loca (2010) is a short booklet for graphic design students. It is about common mistakes and solutions for graphic designers and it also contains designer tips — in collaboration with Körner Union.

 

 

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Untitled, in collaboration with Körner Union and Tatiana Rihs

Rietveld library catalog no : 757.3 kel1

 

A Photograph Revolution


Sunday, October 19, 2014

 

Among all of the recent books in the Rietveld Academie library, Boy Politics particularly appealed to me for its very peculiar aspect and design. It is a bit damaged and looks very breakable which gives it a feeling of preciousness, emphasized by the fact that it is a unique copy. At first I had decided to go see what it looked like because the title was very evocative to me and seemed like a topic I would want to read about. I am interested in the theme of gender and particularly male domination in different cultures and have often questioned it in my work last year in my art school in France. The boy figure, what is expected from a boy and how deeply these expectations and behaviors are attached to a culture and collective unconsciousness.

This book was my first glimpse of the tip of the iceberg that are Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos’ collaborative projects.

 

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Boy Politics, Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos

 

Marc Roig Blesa and Rogier Delfos are two former students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Both graduated in 2009 ; Blesa from VAV and Delfos from graphic design. They have been working together ever since between Barcelona and Amsterdam. From 14/05/13 to 07/06/13 they held an exhibition at Rietveld library where they exposed a selection of Blesa’s secondhand books in a window display, opened at a certain page. It was a mute and powerful visual essay of the figure of the boy throughout images from the 1920′s to the 1990′s. Later on, two other former students of the Academie (Anton Stuckhard and Andrea Sergio) designed Boy Politics, a book that archives this exhibition in a very efficient manner that, to my opinion, is really coherent to the way Blesa and Delfos work. Without any fuss, they encapsulated the spirit of what was the starting point of a larger project that Blesa and Delfos have been working on ever since : « Werker ».

 

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Werker magazine is a long term project and concept that asks many questions and got more and more complex over time. There are 8 different werker projects but usually more than one edition by project.

The artists define them as « contextual publications about photography and labor that inquire into the possibility of formulating a contemporary representation of work » They are all mute analysis of a situation that they try to depict in a most objective manner as possible. They are often the following or addition to an event (exhibition, lecture…) like for Boy Politics. Werker 2, for example, was realized for the exhibition « 1979, A Monument to Radical Instants » in the Virrena Centre de la Imatge of Barcelona (2011), dealing with the issues of daily life in crisis of working class young men. Knowing that photography is the medium that communicates best the essence of a situation, Blesa and Delfos have realized a very accurate observation of several situations.

 

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An example of that accuracy is the « Cinema Diary » edition of Werker 6 (that you can find in San Serriffe book store, along with other Werker issues. It is « a collection of photo diaries that reflect on the current working conditions of the youth through self-representation and amateur photography. » It is the summary of a young artist’s (Matthijs Diederiks) side job at a Pathé cinema. In this small book (x) from which the cover is handwritten by Diederiks, you can find an extract of his working contract and meaningfulness in the lost time of a very boring job.

 

Werker is the story of how graphic design and art meet through photography (amateur photography, secondhand books images, internet pictures…) aiming to deliver a message : Images have power and that power is into the wrong hands, the people must take it back. Blesa and Delfos are indeed strongly politically engaged with revolutionary ambitions.
Let’s focus on « Werker 7 : the language of revolution ». This exhibition followed by an edition of newspaper (once with and once without image) was inspired by the words of Ariella Azoulay in a lecture she gave at the museu d’art contemporani de Barcelona in 2011 in which she did an analysis of Egypt’s revolution through images from the internet (you can find her lecture here : x). Werker 7 questions the revolutionary image, the revolutionary language, the role of mass-media in all this and the function carried out by photography in construction of a global revolutionary language. All the images chosen for that project were found on the internet.

 

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Werker takes its name from the « Worker Photography Movement » :  a group of amateur photographers that appeared in Germany in the 1920’s, following the steps of the first socialist photography experiences in the USSR which extended into the rest of Europe, the USA and Japan. The first group of amateur photographers to use the camera as a tool to fight class-struggle. When I found out about this origin, the work of Blesa and Delfos came clear to me to its full extent. Werker 3 is a « political kitchen calendar » developed within the « grand domestic revolution – user’s manual », a long term living research initiated by casco office for art, design and theory in Utrecht. it is a call for students, artists, domestic workers (and so on) to contribute to the collective gathering of materials. A call for amateur photography as an observation of domestic space. The assignment was « Think politically of your domestic space and contribute to Werker 3 ».

 

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Finally, I found in the « Cinema Diary » an extract from the book Der Arbeiter-Fotograf from Willi Münzenberg (1931) that I thought was very relevant to Delfos and Blesa’s approach, aims and tasks.

« Photography has become an indispensable and outstanding means of propaganda in the revolutionary class struggle. (…) For an illustrated book is easier to read (…) than the lead article of a political daily. Photography works on the human eye (…) the bourgeoisie caters for the mental laziness of the masses and also makes a lot of money. (…) Much more important is the political effect (…) a skillful editor can falsify every photograph into its opposite and can influence the politically naive reader. (…) The revolutionary workers of all countries have to realize these facts very clearly. They have to fight the class enemy with all means. Just as the workers of the Soviet Union have learned to make their own machine-tools (…) the proletarian amateur photographers have to learn to master the camera and to use it correctly in the international class struggle. »

Delfos and Blesa’s aim and ambition : an anti-propaganda revolution guided by photography.

Rietveld library catalog no : roi 1

Content Is King


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

 

Present

 

The Most Beautiful Swiss Books is an annual contest of the most beautiful books in Swiss, which started in 1943 at the suggestion of graphic designer Jan Tschichold. Designing the catalogue itself has always been a desirable task and the job is handed to the most popular designer each year. For Brunner it was a big achievement to secure the catalogue for three years with his concept of ; -The Past Issue(2007), -The Present Issue(2008) & -The Future Issue(2009).
In the making of this catalogue Brunner positioned himself in the middle of the whole process. So he could influence what the content of the book would be, choose which people were interview and what other text and essays were chosen to be in the catalogue. Through this he could increase the value of his concept for each of the three catalogues. The three catalogues all have different perspectives on books and bookmaking in Switzerland, with his time based theme he creates a frame where the interviews and essay fit in.

Although the three catalogues share a format and you can clearly see that they are a series, they have such a different atmosphere. The first time I picked up the three I was immediately drawn to -The Present Issue, I think it was mostly the humorous approach it has.

The way he blends together infographics, photographs and adverts to create this strong theme.
The photographs have a really ironic approach to pop culture and modern cliches, my favorite spread of the issue is two photographs, the first one is a news photograph of miss universe being crowned and the second one is a portrait of a street sweeper with a man dressed in a Harry Potter book costume. The infographics are all connected to books, bookmaking and books in culture in a modern context, with a few random book connected instructional pictures in between the texts. The adverts in the catalogue are clearly carefully chosen, all book connected. All of them really straight forward, half of them are for contemporary books and the others are for book related technology, like the Amazon Kindle pocket reading computer.

Brunner used his typeface: Circular, that was under development at the time. A typeface that has spurred a lot of attention since its arrival with its fresh approach to the classic 20th century fonts. He achieved to make something new and modern by reworking the geometric sans, drawing from Futura, Neuzeit Grotesk and other classic builts. My favorite glyphs of this exciting font is the lowercase “t” and my native lowercase “ð”.  He also made the font; Akkurat which was a big success in 2004. He has a true talent of reinventing the classics, with new perspective.

 

Circular Font sample

Circular Font sample

 

LL Circular is a new take on a classic genre, first explored by Paul Renner’s Futura (1927-28). In the process of developing the font, the purely geometric approach gave way to more complex formal conception, resulting in a geometric sans serif marrying purity with warmth. Striking a balance between functionality, conceptual rigor, skilled workmanship and measured idiosyncrasy, LL Circular is a friendly sans serif text font with unmistakable character yet universal appeal.” -Lineto
With his typography and his layout talents he makes each and every page really aesthetically pleasing, and he makes it really easy to read and functional even though it is in Italian, french, german and english. He made this 200 page catalogue really interesting even though you don’t read one word. All the elements work so well together and are really true to his concept for the catalogue.

Rietveld library catalog no : 758.3 brun 2

Is the pursuit of happiness just an illusion?


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

 

What is happiness to you? How does it smell, taste and feel?

A smile for you

Jeppe Hein is a Danish artist based in Copenhagen and Berlin. His work attempts to be inclusive and tactile, whilst at the same provides a stimulus for contemplation.

The book tries to depict the artist’s representations of three dimensional work within the context of a two dimensional medium.
First of course I was attracted to the front cover. My eyes followed the confusion of coloured dots, like spatter from an ink-jet printer. Until they found the centre; a blister free of colour where the title nestled and seemed to lift, like the title suggested: “A Smile For You”. And then, off-centre; top left following the curve, the artist’s name. Tinier, but somehow less intimate. Different font. Lighter in colour, perhaps, but a statement nonetheless. Ownership.
I browsed through the book and saw that these elements were replicated throughout; the lack of margins, the differing fonts and point sizes, sometimes with serif, sometimes without as if each page was a different room of the exhibition. I became a visitor among the others. And there are many others. I am one of those looking at them, trying to look within.
I realised that the depiction of the artwork was an attempt to reflect the conceit of happiness. The expression of such is difficult; emotions are subjective; happiness is maybe the hardest one to express in a creative medium. I therefore found it interesting how you could try to express happiness in design and in the content of a book.
Books are neither happy nor sad. It is what is contained within and the ability of the author, the designer, and the illustrator; the bookbinder and most importantly the consumer who decides that.

I feel like I have an intimate relationship with this book, it’s precious nevertheless I’m not afraid to use it, look at it, smell it, crease it, read it and ignore it. As long as it’s on the bookshelf it will always be there. A small happiness in my head.

 

The book was designed by All the Way to Paris a Danish-Swedish graphic design studio based in Copenhagen. Founded in 2004 by Tanja Vibe and Petra Olsson Gendt. ATWTP and Jeppe Hein have a personal relationship together. They have been working as a team for the past six years. In 2008, the designers produce the graphic identity for “Karriere” a restaurant ran by Jeppe Hein and his sister. Also, in 2009/2010, they created a logo for “Circus Hein,” a circus show held in Orléans, France. The designers touch can easily be recognized. The colours and typeface are echoed throughout their work.

Circus Hein posters

The catalogue’s design is a close collaboration between Jeppe Hein, his studio and the graphic designer. The artist decided on the selection of images and came up with the idea to include the postcards, engaging the reader to participate by sharing his thoughts on happiness.
The photographs of the artist’s installations and drawings are inviting; the reader can easily travel through them. The choice of mat photo paper is important. The depiction of these works attempts to be as truthful as possible. Many of the photographs enable the reader to see the audience’s reactions to the installations and how by using everyday materials Jeppe Hein tries to reflect the serenity of introspection through voyeuristic engagement.
The designers were able to incorporate a collection of intriguing dividers into the catalogue. Each introduced by an element on the previous page that relates to it somehow. Their content is different from the rest, they’re special. Every divider consists of a short reflection on happiness. These small and grainy pages are significant. They allow rhythm within the book.

At the end, you can find the index of the work featured in the catalogue. The information is printed in landscape format, more convenient to gain space, but also to radically separate the exhibition content and the index. Though I find it uncomfortable to read a hefty book in this way.

 

What is happiness to you?

 

I thought I could use this research for personal reasons in addition to the design aspect. Expressing and understanding what makes me (feel) happy is complex. I can identify when I am intensively happy or deeply sad. But never what’s in between?

 

And I still can’t.

Rietveld library catalog no : Hein 1

 

Can one have a conversation with an artist who is no longer living?


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

 

DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY

front page

 
HOW TO MAKE A CATALOG
 

Sterling Ruby [x] / Robert Mapplethorpe [x]

Designer Rutger Fuchs, living and working in Amsterdam [x] [x]

 

Prep time: 1-2 months
Cooking time: 2-3 months
Total time: approx. 3-5 months

 

copies : approx. 1000 [x]

 

Before you start you need to collect a few people to work with.
Besides that you will need:

-       Corporate identity for Xavier Hufkens [x]

  • Typeface: Swift* by Gerard Unger [x]

-       Pictures of art work/photography

-       Pictures from the exhibition [x]

-       Exhibition notes by Sterling Ruby

-       Essay by Ed Schad

-       Gold coated mirror board (spiegelkarton)

-       Red ink

-       Printing Press

 

When you have found just the right team you collect all the images and structure them. Arrange them as you would hang the exhibition. Make sure that the pictures correspond to eachother. It is crucial to recreate the dialogue between the works, as seen in the exhibition. (A tip: start out with the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe and make Ruby’s works react to that afterwards – it works for me, but play along until you established the dialogue within.)

 

Then you add a good portion of graphic skills and mix it all up. When that is done, go through the content once again. Does it give you a feeling of entering the actual exhibition? Does the pictures relate to each other? Is the answer yes, please continue to the following step. If not, please go one step back and rearrange until you are satisfied with the result.

 

Now comes the difficult part – time to press the cover. Here you will need to add a lot of patience and some overwork. First you start out by printing the red title on the front cover. Print it twice to keep the typeface in place. The material is very easy to damage, so be careful to avoid scratches when you uses the printing machine. When the title is printed on successfully and you are happy with the outcome you let it dry. Leave it to dry for a couple of days to make sure the ink is completely dry. (Tip: try to avoid touching the red ink while drying. It might ruin the cover and you will have to do it over again.)

 

After this you end up with the final result, which should measure approx. 21,4 cm. broad, 26,4 cm. long and 1 cm. thick. This size will make it more suitable for shipping to collectors, friends etc.

 

Hope you’re happy with your result – enjoy your catalog!

 

* Swift (1985) This typeface has proved its worth in corporate identities, magazines and newspapers and occasionally in books — it is a versatile type and can be used in a wide range of circumstances. It is a striking type, with large serifs, large counters and letters that produce a particularly strong horizontal impression. This means that words and lines in Swift are easily distinguished, even where there are large spaces between words, as can occur in newsprint. Swift’s large, robust counters were designed to improve legibility particularly in newspapers. It was designed in the early eighties, when papers were less well printed than they are today, and its special features help it survive on grey, rough paper printed on fast rotary presses. Today it is used more often outside newspapers than in. The current Swift (1995) is an improved version with technical and aesthetic enhancements, and has been expanded into a family of twenty-four variants.

 

///////////

 

BONUS INFO

A catalog representing an exhibition [x] of Sterling Ruby (American artist 1972) engaging with the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe (American photographer 1946 – 1989).

“Can one have a conversation with an artist who is no longer living? What is the nature of autobiography and biography? Why is psychoanalyzing Robert Mapplethorpe so compelling?”

These are some of the questions Ruby has been working with towards creating a whole new line of works.

all_rights_reserved_xavier_hufkens4MAPP-522-1980

 

“In a way, one can say that, while Mapplethorpe captured surface transgressions, Ruby’s response has been to take the inside outside and shove it in our faces.”  [x]

 

exhibitionSterlingRuby2

 

The catalog itself catches your eye right away with its reflecting golden cover and the red stained typography in the front. I wanted to figure out why especially this shiny cover caught my attention and found this phrase online:

“We have long been obsessed by shiny objects – from the latest glimmering gold iPhone to the sheen of a pair of high heels. … It is humbling to acknowledge that despite our sophistication and progress as a species, we are still drawn to things that serve our innate needs–in this case, the need for water.” [x]

 

Rietveld library catalog no : map 6

The different similar.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

William Eggleston’s Guide.

Photographer: William Eggleston.

Author: John Szarkowski.

_______________________________________

IMG_7218

Brohm Areal.

Book concept: Joachim Brohm

layout, typeset: Heike Nehl_moniteurs, Berlin

_______________________________________

 

William Eggleston’s Guide is an intriguing photography book. the pictures come from the first one-man show of color photographs ever presented at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Museum’s first publication of color photography. The book i am going to talk about is a reprint of the original from 1976, the books are very similar accept that the new plates have been made from digital scans from William Eggleston’s original 35mm Transparencies.

  The first thing you probably notice is that the book is bound in a textured cover inset with a photograph of a tricycle and stamped with yearbook-style gold lettering. this makes it noticeable when let’s say it’s laying on the table, it is hard to overlook and invites you to open it. The book starts with a essay by John Szarkowski on coloured green pages with thick black letters. After the essay follows the series of 48 photographs from William Eggleston’s home town and surroundings. On every page there is one pictures on the right and a small description on the left. The photographs are completely isolated from each other. The thing that struck me was the placement of the pictures on the page. Although most of them are central placed on the page some of them are placed in such a way that they could continue on the blank paper. Overall the design is a bit bland and not to exciting.

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When I was in Germany, I went to the “Museum der bildenden künste leipzig”. In the book store of the museum I came across a book from Joachim Brohm and printed by Steidl called ‘Areal’. This Photography book reminded me of William Eggleston’s Guide, and i immediately saw a connection between the two books, so i bought it. Joachim Brohm undertook a photo-urban project of long-term observation. for roughly a decade, from 1992 to 2002, he took photographs of the same location- on the outskirts of a german city as it was being redeveloped from a 1950′s commercial/industrial district into a gentrified post-industrial services center and living area. In a meditative return, Borhm cartographically captured the premises, their buildings and materials, chronologically documenting the changes and developments during this period. Brohm’s pictorial idiom-characterized by a dissolved center, layering and compositions referring to the continuation of space beyond the picture’s limits-is both documentary and deconstructive. So where ‘William Eggleston’s Guide’ photographs seem too continue on the pages of the book, the photographs in ‘Areal’ refer to the continuation of space.

What I found interesting is the way you can see this in the book design. ‘Areal’ is a very “clean” book with big images of which most are placed in landscape, So you need to turn the book too see them. underneath the images there are numbers existing out of the year the photo is taken followed by to others. In the middle of the book there is a index with a overview of all the  numbers. I like how the two books work together, although there is not a real connection between the two, they feel really similar, content-wise but also design-wise. There is a certain emptiness or void that fill these books, if you open them you get a kind of sad feeling inside but it is hard to figure out what that is. Like a cross between melancholy and sentimental, but not only the photographs give you this impression but the whole design of the books as well.

img123 groot

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Rietveld library catalog no : egg 2


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