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"2D-3D" Tag

Type in Space

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In 1995, the graphic designer Zuzana Licko created the typeface
Modula Ribbed, a variation from the original Modula font :

Zuzana Lincko - Modula Ribbed

Then Guy Williams, made an 3D virtual interpretation of it with the program Alias, called Polymorphous : (see Dimensional Typography [x], J.Abbott Miller, 1996)


An former student of basic year, Suzanne Jensen, realized a 3D printed version of this letter as part of this research program back in 2016




The original version of Zuzana Licko already shows an interest around a 3D perspective. Flat but already shaped; round, but with a sharp feeling. As if Licko already had in her mind the physical sensation of this letter in her hands. Considering this, we even could imagine this one as the shadow of Suzanne Jensen’s object, realized years after. Surprising how the shadow come first, before the object.

Simple, efficient, and very particular, Licko’s « f » gives a lot of inspiration for who’s interested in 3D environment.

Guy Williams obviously got inspired by those multiple peaks, and came naturally to this virtual 3D representation, which doesn’t surprise next to the original one.

S. Jensen challenged to finally give this « f » a physical form. The next step for her was to think about the materials and a  technical realization : how to choose a material which gives the physical feeling expected through the previous examples, and how to realize it with a practical and efficient technique. The 3D printer was obviously the most clever solution, to get quickly if we can say, a first physical result.

On the basis of those 2D to 3D experiments, and the desire to give a physical touch to a letter, comes naturally a curiosity for the other way around. Observing our daily environment, well known from us as a 3D space where everything get a shape, a form, a touch. The thing is to get into the same processes as Licko, Williams and Jensen did : looking at the qualities given by the dimension we work on, to see how they can relate to another dimension. The idea isn’t really to get a space visually flat, to then guess typography on it, but to perceive letters as 3D objects. Doing so gives almost infinite possibilities, typography appears everywhere, as long as we make a visual effort and look through different points of view around a portion of a space.



In an apartment

p p2 p3 p4


As well as in nature

A skyline of colorful contrast talks in different shapes and by every millimeter i move my head a new letter appears by light incidence


A 2D surface already offers a lot of possibilities, considering that 3D got this 360° properties, we can imagine how far it can go. After looking around for  some time, the viewer get quite used, and letters pop up naturally to the eyes. They start to get bigger and bigger, as we don’t look only at human sized space and elements, notion of close and far disappear: buildings, trees, highways, clouds, …


blog fin

Looking up, there is a whole new language



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

UNIVERS REVOLVED is a three-dimensional alphabet consisting of 26 letters. It was created by Korean artist Ji Lee as an attempt to challenge and question conventional reading methods. With the Latin alphabet as the starting point Lee revolves the existing letters around themselves in a 360 degree using a 3D modeling program until they become symmetrical ‘objects’ which the user can arrange to form words and sentences readable from left-to-right, right-to-left, top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top, as well as using them to build sculptures, buildings or furniture. His project ‘3-D Chess Board was created to “add an extra dimension of physicality to the game’s battle field.” Lee combines learning with play. On one hand he wants to challenge the linear way in which we perceive and on the other he seeks to add a playful perspective, turning two-dimensional letters into three-dimensional objects which you can build and create with. (More about the importance of play in learning and building is to be found in Johan Huizinga’s book Homo Ludens). Similar to Lee’s 3D alphabet, graphic designer and illustrator Karl Nawrot uses a playful approach too, where “geometrical forms don’t confine themselves to neither the constraints of two dimensional paper nor the responsibility of representing something else”. This can be seen in several of his works and typefaces including the Bauhaus Type 2012 ,  Ghost(s) Writer or Stencils etc.


Example of words written with the typeface Universe Revolved


Karl Nawrot

Example of work by Karl Nawrot

Lee states that the linearity of reading, which we have adapted to as the reading standard, could be a possible limitation to extend our ability to perceive the world in different ways. While linearity offers a system to ease communication it also leaves out certain aspects for which our brains would be able to convey and interpret in their own ways. Linear means for something to be arranged in a straight, or nearly straight, line; a sequential progress of an order. An arrangement that provides the most ‘logical’ way to read, perceive and understand. Linear goes from A to B, B to C, C to D and so on. However there are plenty of examples of non-linear narratives as well. The early calligrams of Emil Bønnelycke and Guillaume Apollinaire, where written words are placed to form a visual image, to Tarantino movies where the scenes are jumping from one chapter to another and back again, almost resembling a circular structure. Although many mention-worthy novels, films and texts belongs in this category, it seems that linearity is reserved for formal matters whereas the non-linearity belongs to the narratives. And this exactly is what is so interesting about Lee’s Universe Revolved.

It could be that it’s either the linearity of which we learn or the mere lack of three dimensionality in most subjects such as literature, physics and mathematics that is the core problem. And if it’s applicable or not is hard to determine, as the linear methods do provide common ground for us to communicate and understand each other in the first place. Imagine if that was only the first step in the learning curve and that Lee and Huizinga’s ways of combining playing and learning was applied, not instead of, but in extend of this first step. Fora dyslexic or a person with dyscalculia it might be difficult to follow a course of which you have to make a logic sense out of a two-dimensional arrangement of letters or numbers, but if these subsets of alphanumeric had an actual, physical existence too, there would be a change for one to grasp, feel; sense these letters and numbers, not only for their logical purpose but for their potential as well. Take the Danish mega brand Lego for instance. The very name is a hybrid of the phrase ‘Leg Godt’ which translates to ‘Play Well’. The playfulness is incorporated in the very name, and though the various sizes and colors of the lego blocks don’t indicate a specific value, it’s possible for kids (and adults) to construct three-dimensional objects, letters, cities etc. in a way that makes sense for them.

For this research we have both made our separate attempts to interpret the Latin alphabet in a personal way. With tin foil and patience, WooRyun Song has created letters by grabbing and crumbling the foil into small, physical landscapes each one containing a different letter. Due to the chosen material it has reflective paths and shiny hills. When the letter A has been formed, you go to B, C, D until all letters has been given a physical existence. She then unfolded the roll of foil, stretching it slightly until it’s back to its two dimensional form. Using digital techniques, she made the last few steps to create a new font in this project called ‘From Plane to Line, From Line to Plane’, outlining the patterns and letter of the tin foil landscaped.

From-Plane-to-Line_1200       From Plane to Line, From Line to Plane

As for Sidsel Lehn Mehlsen, she used the video game Mine-craft (quite similar to the idea of Lego) to build sculptural letters in a virtual park. Inspired by Lee’s approach she revolved the letters around themselves, but unlike a full 360 degree the letters have only been extracted at 90 degrees angles, forming a cross when seen from above.

Skærmbillede-1_1200 Skærmbillede 2018-05-21 kl. 12.00.44

Skærmbillede 2018-05-21 kl. 11.59.05 Skærmbillede 2018-05-21 kl. 11.58.57

AZART (ART from A to Z)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Azart alphabet is designed by Guy Rombouts & Monica Droste

Guy Rombouts is trained as a printer-typographer. Since the seventies, he works on alternative communication systems.  According to Rombouts, direct communication is not possible because some ‘feelings’ cannot be expressed through our language. This is the main cause why he is searching for a system where form and content might coexist. which is an almost impossible goal to reach since every language is subjective and languages are constantly changing.  Guy Rombouts expands and questions what it means to communicate.

Link to Guy Rombouts lecture: [x]


In 1984, an abstract alphabet called AZART was finalized by him and his companion Monica Droste. There are few references that term alludes to:


•    AZ-Art, art from A to Z, art for art

•    French word hazard that means the coincidence

•    The Azart is Russian for inspiration or passion in the game

•    The bridges: Idea, Word, and Conscience. (pictures will be bellow)


Each letter correlates to:

 a line with the specific name,

the color that relates to the first letter of that color and sound

In Azart each letter is translated by a corresponding line, on the basis of the first letter of the word which describes the line.

A is angular, B is barred, C is curve, D is deviation and Z is a zigzag line.


Screenshot (541)Screenshot (564)




AZART alphabet is very much trying to make word physical or special. It combines letters into words as two-dimensional objects, instead of one-dimensional strings. According to Guy Rombouts, the use of color causes stronger affection between letters than in normal text. Just like in spoken language – where each sound influences the sounds preceding and following it – letters must adapt to their neighbors. This is way sentences appear as 3D characters. It creates an image in which each letter is replaced by a line.  When the lines are linked together forms and word as  images appear.

Azart words define themselves in a visual way




The Azart computer program was made after the alphabet’s completion. It visualizes the natural Azart writing activity and the method/principles how the words/sentences are communicated through Azart.


Screenshot (563)

you can create your own Azart word with the image link above:

On this website you can see a number of bridges designed by Guy Rombouts and Monica Droste. The serpent figures in the bridge railings forms a word.  Nine letter- or Word-bridges by artist couple, 1994. The Belgian artists designed a whole new alphabet, ‘ the regulation ‘, an image in which each letter Azart is replaced by a line. The squiggly figures in the bridge railings forms a Word.   Bridges to a  certain extend do refer to language they have same function – connection and comunication


Quotes from the interview of the witte Raaf (that in our opinion give some insight to approach that Rombouts has) :

Volledige interview:

‘De verwondering over het gewone; het feit dat wij het normale niet normaal vinden.’

‘The wonder of the ordinary; the fact that we normally do not find it normal. ‘

‘De alfabetische volgorde is een garantie voor neutraliteit, ze kent geen hiërarchie.’

‘The alphabetical order is a guarantee of neutrality, it has no hierarchy.’

‘Ik was gefascineerd door de spanning tussen woorden en dingen. Je hebt die strakke, lineaire lijst van 26 drieletterwoorden, die allemaal even lang zijn; maar de objecten zijn totaal verschillend.’

‘I was fascinated by the tension between words and things. You have that tight, linear list of 26 three-letter words, all of which are equally long; but the objects are completely different.’

‘Obsessies kunnen vervelend worden, vooral als je er niet zelf voor kiest. Als je zelf een obsessie kiest en daar tijdelijk inkruipt – als spel, ironie of knipoog – dan kan het heel ontspannend werken.’

‘Obsessions can become annoying, especially if you do not choose them yourself. If you choose an obsession yourself and temporarily sneak in – as a game, irony or wink – it can be very relaxing.’

‘Ik hou ervan dingen bijeen te brengen zonder ze vast te leggen. Dingen vastleggen is vreselijk. Ik probeer lijm te vermijden.’

‘I love to bring things together without recording them. Capturing things is terrible. I try to avoid glue.’

‘Er is niets zonder moeder. Zonder moeder bestaat niemand.’

‘There is nothing without a mother. No one exists without a mother.’



Pam: ‘I also composed a new alphabet with shapes that you can see above. I stood in the form of the letter that, in my opinion, represented the letter. After having been in this form I converted it to a computerized graphic letter. My alphabet is still from A-Z and you can read it in your own way. It was interesting to try out how I could use my body to create an alphabet and not to use the existing form.’



FOURFOLD Autonomous Scenography

Autonomous Scenography-project that started in 2014 by Meryem Bayram

Bayram’s artistic practice as visual artist and scenographyer explores the parallels between humans and their environment. Fourfold will be an interactive installation that challenges our conception of the known and the unknown, the rational and the irrational.

The  project is  a living encounter between Meryem and visual artist Guy Rombouts.  In this work her proposition of a space will be given as a gift to the body of the fellow artist . Guy`s response to it, his “unpacking¨of Meryem`s spatial gift will generate a core of the “Fourfold” event.   the communication between both artists extends the field of language+image and action. the ritual itself becomes a  form of communicating. Language is not only sound that comes out of your mouth it is also an act.



Typography and beyond

Monday, May 21, 2018

We tend to relate typography to alphabet, in fact, according to the definition of Wikipedia,

typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing, and letter-spacing, and adjusting the space between pairs of letters. The term typography is also applied to the style, arrangement, and appearance of the letters, numbers, and symbols created by the process.”

So typography can actually be more flexible than the letters we are used to.


Ghost(s) writer, 2013

This work is a work from Karl Nawrot, a French graphic designer who now works in Paris. He was inspired by three dimensional grids when he made Ghost(s) Writer, which is “an object dedicated to the act of sketching… It rejects the idea of a definitive form and its function is left to the user or the viewer and can be approached as a typewriter, a construction game or a sculpture.” The typographic work of Karl Nawrot expands past normative visions of what the alphabet is, into multi-dimensional visions of what it could be. Having trained as both an illustrator and a graphic designer, as well as having taught drawing at Gerrit Rieveld Academie, Nawrot is prolific in the way he combines narrative and storytelling, drawings, line, space and sculptural architectural forms with type design. The way he works with material is particularly innovative, often creating forms that resemble architectural models, which then become a basis for type.  An example is a model that derived from Le Corbusier’s Domino House, where the staircase is translated into a cave-like form. Instead of looking at a lay-out, two-dimensional alphabet, static on a screen or paper, we are looking at a process, which is given much emphasis over outcome. Because for Nawrot, it is crucial he gives himself a physical narrative to work with, so that whatever the ‘final product’ is, it is linked to a fiction.

Similar to the Domino House model, Nawrot created the Breu for Marcel Breuer font by making plaster model interpretations of Breuers abandoned building, The Parador Ariston, where he saw the rooms as instead ‘nests and caves’, which forms were illustrated in the letters. This playful, almost childlike, but acutely refined, material approach to the alphabet is what makes Nawrot unprecedented in todays typographic realm.


The infinite potential of the tools and ways we use to communicate through words and letters is being pursued in a similar way by Guy Rombouts, who created the Azart programme.

Guy Rombouts’ work can be spoken about under the term of ‘visual arts’, however throughout the mid 20th century he worked as a graphic artist with an ongoing fascination for communication systems. He is principally known for his Azart alphabet, which questions the way we interact with letters by adding multiple dimensions to how we ‘read’ words and sentences. Perhaps this is what makes his sculpture work fascinating- Often Modern sculptures will be associated with ideas, feelings or explore pure materiality, yet Rombouts creates 3d forms which may appear abstract or indirect, but in fact according to Azart, directly communicate something. Also his ‘typographic’ sculptures have often been put into public spaces, for example the 9 foot and bike bridges on Java Island in Amsterdam. Just like language bridges the gap between people, Rombouts forms connect the land together. Language doesn’t just have to come from the mouth.



Azart alphabet


This new alphabet gives letters new and double meanings, related to objects and colour, which when strung together as words and then sentences, creates a loaded and complex shape of values and connotations. Like Nawrots process, Azart embeds narrative into characters, and new shape and more dimensions to letters. With this programme a user is put into a position of eradicating their memory of ‘normal’ character shapes, and take on a new vision where, like when we speak, each sounds from a letter is influenced by the one before and after it, thus the form of the word uses 3 dimensions to resemble this. We must question, is typing on an electronic document static or moveable, is it personal or objective? Just because we have fed a computer images into its memory does not mean it is fixed there. As important and useful as they are, in the age of computers, it is important to use creativity to expand and question what it means to communicate.


This leads us to discuss the work of Émilie Ferrat and François Girard-Meunier, who graduated from Graphic Design at the Rietveld academie with a collaborative ceramics project, ‘Ceramics with Émilie / Ceramics with François.’ They explored the way language can become material in an installation, in which there was a video where the two designers talked about some clay forms they had sculpted. In the videos, the idea of ‘meaning’ is broken down. They explore, in a new way, the on-going puzzling relationship between words and objects. How do they relate to each other? What do they mean? What is meaning? By translating the idea of a known object into another form and material, there are many questions to be asked, to which answers and messages can be found within the material. Hence, a form prompts a dialogue. You can find their work here


Suprisingly, we made a work which is closely connected to those ideas.

The work is inspired by the game kids use to play in order to learn alphabet. They have to associate a random letter with an object that begins with that letter.

Here’s an example with the letter C

game to learn alphabet

The fact that we have learnt our whole life to associate specific words to specific objects can be very limited, that’s why our work is meant to show the variety of forms and shapes and stories you can give to typography.



We followed the same concept as the game for kids, but instead of focusing on the words, we focused on the objects.

We made a list of random words following the letters of the alphabet, and then sculpted abstract shapes out of it.

A=apple                                                   N=nose

B=bed                                                      O=olive

C=candy                                                   P=pickle

D=diamond                                               Q=queen

E=egg                                                       R=rainbow

F=fish                                                       S=shell

G=glasses                                                 T=tree

H=hairdryer                                               U=umbrella

I=icecream                                                V=violin

J=jar                                                         W=window

K=keyboard                                                X=xylophon

L=locker                                                     Y=yellow

M=moon                                                     Z=zucchini




But of course you can go further with the idea and play with the words which surround us in our daily life. Here’s an example of how a character would look like with our system


With this system, you don’t visualize just one thing anymore. The first thing your brain wants you to think it is is a character, but by being more attentive you can see a whole set of signs, of objects within one object, words within one word. At the end it makes clear for us with this experience and Azart alphabet that typography can actually be seen from different perspectives. With the shapes that Guy Rombouts creates, he makes an assemblage which gives the word another way of seeing it. The shape Azart alphabet gave us with Millie’s name might look like a rabbit, and mine, well… It’s up to the viewer to decide what it can be. All those systems want us to think differently, there is still something hidden behind the shapes we see at first, there’s a meaning even if it might not be obvious. Another example of that can be calligrams, drawings made by handwriting. You can choose to relate the writing to the drawing, but it’s not a necessity. With our character, the idea was to see what else you can obtain by replacing the eyes by eggs, legs by lockers, arms by apples, etc. But maybe the clay objects could have communicate something ? As for the pickle example above. Maybe this system can be considered as a new way to communicate with your lover, while other people wouldn’t understand what you are trying to say.

How to prick’s one eye

Sunday, June 4, 2017


« The Faux Series » by Chris Kabel is a serie of small boxes with a very particular 3d-like texture. Through water-transfer printing, photos have been printed on the small boxes’ surfaces. Shadows and bright spots are emphasizing the shape of these boxes. These prints match the objects and succeed at giving more depth to the visual aspect of the boxes.


I chose « The Faux Series » because I have been very interested by photography lately. The work made me think about several references, the first one is the book « The concept of Non-Photography » by François Laruelle. The author mentions the interesting relationship that is established between the image and the real object. The image is a way of perceiving the object almost like formulating a point of view on that object. Chris Kabel’s work challenges Mr. Laruelle statement: « photography is a process that excludes the object-form » by using the technique of photographic prints directly on an originally neutral object.


Photography in my point of view is putting up a boundary between itself and the real object, as Martha Sandweiss said: « The capacity of photographs to evoke rather than tell, to suggest rather than explain ». Photography is i think the attempt to materialize each human beings’ perception of things. It is as if Chris Kabel decided to glue the perception of an object on that object itself to create a new « alien-object ».


The Chris Kabel « Faux Series » relate to the Act III of the booklet. « Faux » in french means false. Act III is made of little humoristic and theatrical dialogues that mainly personify materials such as wood and marble. This short play also gives a voice to objects, an animal and a product (a dress). It displays the following ideas of looking like and ressemblance. It is also about pointing out the complexity of a visual system that deals with notions like authenticity vs camouflage, imitation vs sincerity and all the changes and transformations happening in between.

Chris Kabel is experimenting how two different medium could cooperate together, in that sense the work of Chris Label is interesting.


Faux Series 2017, 3D printed polyamide, water transfer printed.

Criteria of beauty

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Step 0 | Question: What is beauty?



What is beauty? How can it be defined?

It could be an obscure question which does not have a clear answer. A topic of my first art theory class of this semester was just about it. The first chapter in Cynthia Freeland’s book, Art Theory: A Very Short Introduction was used and it also referred to aesthetic judgement of Kant. It has never been a simple subject for me, since there would be an enormous space to argue.

But a couple of months later, I happened to think of what is called “style” might have its own clear answer.

This idea made me feel a little bit better.



Step 1 | Dutch style aquarium has appeared as unknown territory


Work by Takashi Amano, the founder of the style “Nature aquarium”


When I got an assignment named “exploring unknown territory” in design class, I never thought about such a thing. As I need to meet a professional who inspired me to go in his/her context, I was simply looking for someone who I can contact in the Netherlands. In my mind, a specific genre of aquarium, Dutch style aquarium, came earlier than an idea of who to choose.

It is because an aquarium making was my hobby which I got interested in, few years ago in Japan. This aquarium is specifically called “Nature aquarium” in which you can create an “aquascape” resembling nature landscape by putting growing aquatic plants, stones, wood and little creatures like tropical fishes or shrimps in your tank.

Unfortunately I had to leave mine in Japan when I moved to Amsterdam, but I still had a little expectation that I would see a different type of aquarium. I had already heard the word of “Dutch style aquarium” even in Japan. Now is it time to explore it here, in the Netherlands?



Step 2 | The Answer from Dutch style aquarium


A work from category of Dutch aquascape in AGA contest 2015


There are two kinds of major styles of aquascaping. One is called Nature aquarium in which I had been interested since before, and the other is called Dutch style aquarium, the oldest style becoming popular during the 1930s in the Netherlands. The former has become the global mainstream since being established in Japan in early 1990s, but actually it came after the latter.

To know more about the Dutch style I tried to meet one of judges for a category of Dutch aquascape of the international aquascaping contest. Unfortunately it was not realized. Instead, I still could get a lot of information on the internet.

Though the most simple feature of the Dutch style is nonuse of hardscape material like stones or wood, the most interesting finding for me was the very detailed rules. It is very much specific.


It requires;
- well grown and defined grouping plants
- a small space between the groups
- clearly different height between the groups
- more than 3 plant species per foot (foreground / middle / background)
- terracing to convey depth
- rich contrasts (made by color variation, leaf height, texture)
- a focal point (emphasized by a red or large plant / by the effective use of the “Rule of Thirds” / only one focal point in tanks 36” or less)
- more than 70% of the floor planted
- imaginary streets / pathways of plant


You would also find that contest’s judgments are always given from an objective viewpoint, if a work fulfills the criteria mentioned above or not.

In my mind, these were immediately connected to the question, how aesthetics can be judged, which was discussed in the theory class before. If the guidelines of aesthetic, could be applied to even other things?

Then, I decided to try to make “beautiful” compositions by appropriating these criteria for totally different things.



Step 3 | Then, what can the criteria fit?


The first cutout with images from “SimCity” app


It was not easy to choose the objects for the composition.

I think I was caught too much by the idea of choosing a specific motif, which needs arrangements as well as aquascapes do. What came in my mind, for example, was still life painting, architecture or city planning. I actually have tried to make some 3D collages with these motives.

After some struggle, my idea eventually reached autonomous graphic compositions without any motives. It would be interesting to use things without any restriction, than to focus on a specific objects, since it has more expandability. What is more, I could not imagine the result and it simply made me curious.

How much universal could this criteria become? I wanted to make some studies to examine it.



Step 4 | Interpretation of aquascape language



To go on with this experiment, I deliberately applied some points mentioned below to my practices, choosing from many.


- Contrast by colors
the use of color highlights
black and white, green and red, positive and negative…

- Contrast by textures
fluffy, flat, glossy, mat…
photo prints showing different textures

- Contrast by shapes
curvy and strait, circles and angles
same shapes but in different size and height

- Focal point
A focal point provided by the use of above techniques
Application of the rule of thirds

- Imaginary pathways
Emphasis of the perspective


In addition to these rules, I found that aquariums are something in-between of 3D and 2D. I mean, it is actually three dimensional but the layouts are always considered from a fixed viewpoint. Traditionally tanks show only the front side and the other sides are totally covered. Photography always had an important role in showing it also. I put a camera in a position where I started to make each layout.



Step 5 | A result


Get the Flash Player to see this player.


In this experiment, I had already found that the goal of this project would not be to make an finished image but to try a lot of compositions as studies. What kind of results can I get from this? Is it “beautiful”? These kinds of tryouts are not completed in short time but should be just a starting point of pursuits.

Will it still continue?

To sit like a swan

Monday, December 1, 2014


The object in this picture is a model of ‘aluminiumstoel’ by Gerrit Rietveld. It is simply a piece of paper cut in a way that when you fold it, it turns into a miniature model of the aluminum chair. The simplicity of this design is admirable, even though the final result in steel does not really give the same feeling of organic harmony. However, this model could not represent the creator’s idea better.



Aluminium stoel model[x]


Aluminium stoel[x]




Rietveld made this chair in his attempt to create a furniture using one piece of material, or more specifically, one sheet of it. In this case, he used a sheet of metal for the chair we see in the picture and it is easy to understand how he handled the material to display the result in this, since we have at our disposal inside information of the designer’s process of thought, namely; this beautifully cut and pierced piece of paper. Rietveld also experimented with plywood to achieve an immediate connection of an idea with the act of making. When only one piece of material is needed to make an idea come to life, and when that material is so flexible that handling it seems as easy as drawing on a paper with a pen, then there’s a new type of harmony introduced to the design process; that of an immediate, fast action resulting in a beautiful and easy product.



Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 12.58.59 PM

Sketch of Aluminiumstoel; notice how the designer uses method of folding as a starting point for his research[x]


Rietveld and his contemporaries believed in a new world order, supported through their designs. In that world, one of the essential and necessary virtues would be the one of the minimum dwelling (das existenzminimum). For that to be achieved, all heavy labour would be replaced by machines, giving that way the man the freedom to use his leisure time in whatever way he thinks is best. In that world beauty and simplicity are the main gears of development. This is why in many Rietveld designs, in the model of the aluminiumstoel as well, we see a coexistance in harmony of these two and a lack of complexity which implies that the process of making of that object won’t result in valuing more than the object itself. For me, this is a reason why most of his chairs seem really uncomfortable; he wouldn’t want the owner of the chair to dwell in it for hours. There are examples of designs that embody perfectly Rietveld’s ideology, but were sadly never realised by him, like this chair of assembled plywood, designed in 1927.


plywood rietveld

Plywood prototype, 1958[x]


What I first thought when I saw the paper model – and what everyone probably thinks – is the old Japanese art of origami, the art of folding paper. The idea of folding a piece of paper in a certain way so that it creates a clear shape of something seemed really appealing when applied to interior design. More importantly, it seemed perfect for what Rietveld was aiming for; an oblect made of one sheet of material and whose existance would be a clear statement for an easy, free living of minimum dwelling.
Origami art has influenced many design-based branches, such as architecture, fashion and interior design. Its basic principles have even recently been proved to be beneficial for science when it comes to manufacturing. Assembled Additive Manufacturing is a new process of fabricating developed by researchers, which has origami principles as its base, as it treats 3D objects as multiple layers of 2D sheets.
I was surprised, however, to see that most origami-influenced designs were really static and superficial; meaning that none of them took the idea one step further, none handled the art of origami as a general principle that could be the base of something bigger, or even as a statement. Designer Stefan Schöning came up with a design for a ‘folder chair’, where all that’s needed for its creation is a sheet of polypropelene.


folded chair

Origami folding chairs[x]

This example is really similar to what Rietveld was aspiring to do. Many similar designs have been realised, however it seems to me that they mainly aim at impressing the viewer, at making them admit that “that’s a witty design”, without committing a vision in it, nor giving the viewer and the world a tool for a better living, which will, in its turn, become a reason for contemplation.



A performance in n dimensions

Monday, June 16, 2014

In spring 2014 Designblog was invited by the 26th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno (subtitled Education and Schools) to prepare a presentation for their Open OFF Program.
I decided to involve a group of BasicYear students in a research focussed on browsing the blog. The goal was to look for a personal objective and to visualize the browsing behavior it generated.
In an effort to regain more insight in the position of Designblog, we invited Klaas Kuitenbrouwer to lecture on the position of blogs as part of the wide interwoven internet space. A space that turned out to look much flatter than our imagination could have ascribed it.
The lecture later developed into this text supporting "WORDPLAY", our final presentation at the Biennial. No better place than to publish that text as part of the student research project "Browsing Designblog" on the Designblog itself.

Henk Groenendijk : moderator Designblog



While the screen of the device you are using shows that Designblog has a relevant two-dimensionality to it, this text will take you along perspectives on Designblog from single dimensions to two-and-a-half, three, four and even the ever flexible n-dimensions in which Designblog simultaneously exists.



is an address, a pointer to a location. An address refers to a particular spot, a one-dimensional unit that is typically part of a thing with more dimensions.

An address like this has two kinds of capacities:  one is understood and used by machines, and the other is for humans. In its machinic capacity, points to a specific series of states of tiny logical gates, that are part of a memory disk in a server owned by some provider. That’s where Designblog resides in what you could call its latent, purely informational state. In this state Designblog is inaccessible for humans.

The human-facing capacity of the address points to a location on the WorldWideWeb. This address holds particular information on what it points to. In terms of content, it suggests its visitors to relate to what is behind the address as a time-stamped list of musings (a weblog) contextualized in the particular world of meanings known as design. But the address also ties the web location to a place on the physical globe, mobilizing some spatial –geographical- reference frame. It shows the blog is affiliated with an art academy: the Rietveld Academie in The Netherlands.

When a human calls upon that address – when it is clicked by you in this text, for instance – a command is sent to copy a section of that series of logical states from the server through fiber optic cables, through a couple of routers to the computer or phone where the click was performed. The browser on that computer (yours, that would be) than has the specific task and ability to allow that series or logical states to inform the screen of its computer to display what we have come to think of as the front page of Designblog.



The ‘page’ is home turf for the graphically oriented. A two dimensional surface, that can passively hold various two-dimensional artifacts in a fixed relation to one another. The page was a helpful metaphor to be able to relate to the strangeness of networked information, as it was performed by snippets of code – a rewarding, but also frustrating metaphor for the graphically oriented: neither is there a real surface, nor is there a fixed two-dimensional relation between any artifact and any other. Still, although the page doesn’t exist anywhere but in your lazy perception, it doesn’t really hurt to think of Designblog as a collection of pages.
But there’s more…

The latent, machinic state is now activated. The address opened its front door, and revealed what performs not only as a page, but also like a place. An online, publicly accessible part of the Rietveld Academy, that indeed has some characteristics of a classroom.



A place is an appropriated space. A location with layers of stories, traces of events. A place offers corners, furniture, a means to sit down and be there. A place ties to identity, to individual identities, or group identities. At places, relations become entangled. Anything can talk to who- or whatever also happens to be there. A place is somewhere you can be with your experience, somewhere to orient from. This possibility of being there, (which is different from ‘looking at’) this possible sensation of presence, subtly mobilizes a notion of partiality.

Over its years of existence Designblog has become a place with a deep accreted inside, a vast archive of contributions by Rietveld students: worded observations, found media-items, responses to assignments, to each others contributions, linked to each other, to other addresses on the web, clustered and flagged by tags.

Unlike a classroom, the inside of Designblog is at the same time its outside: the stuff inside is crawled and indexed by the bots of Google, that provide the endless amount of entry points for the querying audience. In this sense Designblog is like a Klein Bottle, an object with two-and-a-half dimensions, of which the outside and the inside are one unbroken surface.

Every corner of Designblog either links to some item in the vast non-dimensionality of the web, or is accessible from it. Things inside Designblog are not even closer to one another than to things accessible through other addresses. Everything  on the web exists at more or less the same distance from everything else. If this is a classroom, it is an extremely open classroom.



Designblog has a lot of placeness, but clearly also still has endless space. To call it space pulls the attention to its not yet actualized potential. It brings to the front that whatever it is, it could house a great many future developments, without ever loosing that quality of potential. In the sense that any member of the blog can always open up a new empty page (a sub-address) to fill, Designblog performs as space. But this spaceness, because it is part of the web, has no particular kind of dimensionality to it.



Designblog is a collective, open archive, an accessible history of students’ online work. But to say (like you would say of an archive) that informational artifacts are ‘stored’ there would be misleading. The artifacts are not stored in its structure, they are its structure, as well as its decoration.

Like a birds nest is made of twigs, threads, leaves, wires, found things that are sufficiently twinable, Designblog is made of its twines. Also a nest is a place where one can land and fly off from. A nest is a place that holds up who dwell there, but that does not cover them. A nest offers place, but has no real inside. All that seems to hold for Designblog: as a groups’ nest it offers a place to land, to contribute informational twines to, and to fly off from.


Body language

When language deals with space and location, it stubbornly uses the body as implicit reference. The language of spatiality is about here or there, behind or in front, up or down and in or out. The web captured the human imagination through the metaphor of cyberspace. This spatial approach offered important and helpful familiarity, and has made the internet inhabitable, so to speak.

Spatial concepts have played and still play a crucial part in helping people to relate to networked computing. But insisting on spatial notions also fixes the relation between people and the online as a spatial one.



And it is through the time-perspective – the fourth dimension- that other Designblog realities reveal themselves. Because the most essential aspects of Designblog are processes.

The emergence of Designblog, (as of all blogs) follows a time line, that would be one-dimensional if it didn’t fold in on itself, and looped to earlier contributions. Twining may be an apt practice by which to perceive the development of Designblog: both making and responding to what’s there, simultaneously creative and reactive.

Time is also the room in which learning takes place – the process of one thing informing another thing, the process of information, the raison d’être of a school.



All agents related to Designblog are engaged in some act of distinctly time-based performance. A performance of a for a particular audience – you.  Some of those acts come down to straightforward, unambiguous execution of tasks, others are more elaborate and creative.

Your computer or phone performs its web browser, for you. The web browser in turn performs the latent code of Designblog to make it active and accessible, again to you.

Designblog performs its fuzzily structured content, never showing more than a glimpse of its vastly twined labyrinthine body. It responds to your clicks by turning a differently dressed little facade, by offering a new shadowy inroad, or by suddenly pointing a spotlight in your eyes.

Members perform the mysterious part of author – transforming found things into new source material. They create independent, informative agents of text or (moving) image, that in their turn perform the act of information on your sense organs.

And the members add tags to their agents, to suggest similarities or difference between their agents to you. These tags perform as frames through which to move with your mind, frames that you put on to shape your perception. Every one of those tags performs like one of n dimensions along which the content of Designblog can be morphed, when you travel along it. Although it is not so much you who travels through Designblog, it is more that Designblog travels through your screen – you stay put, Designblog performs the moves.

But you are not undergoing this passively. You are the last performer, performing the score of Designblog, following the by-roads and sideways. By your clicking you act upon your pseudo-conscious choices about what material is allowed to inform your perception. Your clicks and non-clicks manifest your own perspective in the material of Designblog.


Klaas Kuitenbrouwer augustus – september 2014

(written for the occasion of "WORDPLAY", the presentation of the online artefact Designblog at the Graphic Design Biennial in Brno, Czech Republic.)


De Stijl

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dutch periodical founded by Theo Van Doesburg in 1917 and published in Leiden until 1932; the name was also applied from the 1920s to a distinctive movement and to the group of artists associated with it. The periodical’s subtitle, Maandblad voor de beeldende vakken (Monthly Journal of the Expressive Professions), indicates the range of artists to which it was appealing, and van Doesburg’s intention was that it be a platform for all those who were concerned with a new art: painters, sculptors, architects, urban planners, typographers, interior designers etc.

Proponents of De Stijl sought to express a new utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order. They advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions, and used only primary colours along with black and white.


Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Red, Black, Blue and Grey



NORM formulating new dimensions in design

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dimity Bruni and Manuel Krebs,two graphic designers from Switzerland. Both born in 1970 and met in art school, in Biel. They founded NORM in 1999 and created their own typographic language by ignoring existing conventions. NORM is now based in Zurich. They’re well known for their typeface «Simple» which first got used in their book The Things. Later, Ruedi Baur of Integral, Paris, asked them to redesign the typeface for use in the new corporate design of the Cologne-Bonn Airport – this version is named Simple-Airport.

Bruni and Krebs developed their own typographical brand. They invented their own way of putting the world into categories and they formulated two rules: — the world is divided into two groups:  3d things and 2d things. — anything invisible is not of our concern.

3d things:  3d things consists of physical things that are of material existence. These items should be solid and visible, though not necessarily visible with the eye.

2d things:  the 2d category can be put into four different groups based on dimensions. group 1, those which represent something pertaining to a three-dimensional space group 2, those which represent something not pertaining to a three-dimensional space group 3, those which represent nothing group 4, those which are as yet unknown to us

group 1 represents the physical spacial things. It is bound to its own being because we recognize 3d things through its build, size  and materiality. When speaking in 2d matter, things lose their necessity of being a certain size, light, color. This is quite a wide range of objects, so NORM has categorized group 1 in sizes, — smaller than human beings, but large enough to be seen with the eye — roughly as large as human beings — bigger than human beings, but also small enough to be seen

group 2 represents the non-spacious, nonphysical things. Things that come down to numbers and letters and abstract ideas like sounds. Letters are the most easy to understand. Letters can also be read as signs. They have a double function, we write them and read them. Letters define their own meaning in a very clear way; while sounds are more difficult to represent, read, and understand. Letters have principles, we have a certain way of making letters and this is why they are so recognizable. Letters are principles. Still, there is much room for playing and sculpting in this field. — when designing a new system of writing, signs should be simple. they should be simple, because it makes them easier to remember, to recognize, and reproduce. — also the signs should be in a small quantity, because it makes them easier to learn — no sign should resemble another, because it will create confusion. so each sign should appear no more than once — it should be possible to align the signs in straight rows. always on a horizontal/vertical grid. this is so we can recognize a text, even when the script is unknown to us. — the characters should be simple graphic forms, recognized, and written easily as possible.

group 3 These things represent nothing. the things indescribable and invisible, so no concern

group 4


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