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Becmoming...Metahaven For this brief myself along with four of my piers were asked to research a group called Metahaven. Metahaven are a graphic design and research studio based in Amsterdam. The company was founded by Daniel Van der Velden along with Vinca Kruk who are both graphic designers.

Metahaven’s work is mainly research based. Their projects are intended to spark discussion and deep thought into their thought processes and design solutions. They tend to look at design from an obscure angle, and is not what you would see of conventional graphic design. Their projects diverse from identity to politics. Briefs include Sealand, Wikileaks, Signal (Murcia) as well as many others. Their most recent work entitled The dark glamour of conspiracy featured a series of scarf designs distributed on ebay with all profit going towards wikileaks.

Metahaven also have a book entitled Uncorporate Identity which features their ideas, projects and models. Although it’s a book which features design, it also taps into corporate identity merged with politics and the idea of information networks. The book also features essays and interviews that metahaven have done. The book looks at identity and branding in today’s world.


Group Research In the first section of the project, I was put into a group with four other peers. Together we had to research in more detail on what metahaven was and produce a piece of work that was influenced by them.

We began researching on metahaven’s projects they have done, One was entitled ‘Signal Murica’ where they produced an installation of a series of graphic labels for fruits for a festival called manifesta 8. Here metahaven looked at the fruit produce in Murcia which is widely rich in producing fruit. They also looked at the geopolitical side of it aswell taking into account how much fruit is grown in Murcia and what it’s contribution is across Europe. The labels address the current situation occuring where the fruit is grown adding ideas of surprise and speculation. The labels are also distributed internationally as well as manifesta 8.

Stadstaat is another project we looked at when researching. This is a project where metahaven have looked at the link and ambiguous relations between governance and their visual identities by taking an imaginary state as their study. The whole scenario of this project is that metahaven have looked at the political and economic downturns of cities and how networking, partnership and alliance have become a source of power. It also looks at the increase in cities competing to become more visible.


As well as visual projects, metahaven have also done many articles and interviews in which they strongly share their views on identity, politics, branding and cities. There views on these topics are very much related to the world of branding and identity today.


Group final For our final outcome as a group, we decided to do a research book based on metahaven, who they are, what they do and what they are about. As a group, we found that understanding exactly what they done was slightly confusing at times, so a research book would show our understanding on them. It would also gives others a clear indication on metahaven also. When developing the book, we were all given chosen topics to research upon that metahaven have explored their ideas in. These topics were: • Critical design • Political issues • Visual/ corporate identity • Artists relating to metahaven • An important piece of their work • Our analysis of metahaven Each of us also wrote a short paragraph on the topics we looked at, along with out analysis on metahaven.

Here are some screen shots of the groups final outcome. It shows a person’s hand flicking through the book while a voice over done by one member of the group is explaining who are metahaven, what they do and the work they do etc... In the process of designing the book, we each done 3-4 pages each covering the topic we had to research on. The aesthetic aspect of the book, was influenced by metahaven’s book uncorporate identity. The style the book is designed in, uses bold colours, unusual colour combinations, basic shapes/styles and gradients. We used these elements of metahaven’s book and formed them into a style of our own.


Individual Section In the individual section of the brief, I looked at what kind of elements of metahaven’s work I liked and used it to come up with an idea towards my individual final piece. So from looking at their work, I had the idea of metahaven bringing out a certain truth and realness out of their work. Projects such as signal murcia and facestate were the two I liked in particular because of the ideas behind it and also the visual look it had in communicating with the viewer. Metahaven also have strong views on the political and economical side of things and incorporate this into their work. What I wanted to do was look at one or two of their projects and produce something around these views that metahaven had.

Here are a few posters I researched on that have the idea of ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ in them. The series of poster were designed by Justin Barber, a graphic designer who took humorous everyday lies that we tell ourselves and tell others. He then reveals the truth in those lies, by putting the tag phrase at the bottom to represent the truth. The posters represent what we say but what we really mean. Visually, they are pleasing as the overall message gets straight to the point. I also like the simple symbols to represent the saying, there not designed in huge detail which is good. The posters give a minimalist look overall. I chose to look at these posters to give me an overlook on what kind of designs were out there on my idea.


True and false ads As I began to research further, I started to look at advertisements that depicted a true and false look. So I started to think of ads that showed this. So I began to look at the advertisements of cigarettes. From around the 60s to the 80s cigarettes were shown to be cool and fashionable. On advertisements, people were shown to be happy, wealthy, and enjoyed smoking a cigarette. When looking at this further, there’s a sense of false messages being sent out to the consumer. The adverts only showed the outside positives of cigarettes not the inside, in other words what words what it actually does.

Here are two examples I looked at of early cigarette advertising. This is an ad from time magazine in December 1963, the people are shown here to be happy, sociable and enjoying a cigarette in their hand. The poster outlines that the Viceroy which is the name of the company, have got the ‘taste’ in their cigarettes.

This is another example I looked of false ads. This is an ad from the tobacco company Phillip Morris from the 1950s. The poster is aimed at young people saying the cigarette becomes more popular with younger generation. Again we see a the people represented as being happy, free and in love due to Phillip Morris cigarettes.

Here are two ads from an anti smoking campaign called ‘tips from a former smoker’ in which it shows former smokers who have been through surgery and drastic changes to save their lives from the effects of smoking. Compared to the ads before, these show a sense of the truth when it comes to smoking. It also represents the reality of smoking. Rather than showing what it would do for you, it shows what it can do

to you. These advertisements are very powerful in what they say and revealing the truth.


Final outcome After developing and researching on influential works metahaven produced, I was able to produce a poster influenced on their facestate project. I liked the idea behind the project and the whole idea of facebook being merged with friends, employers, and the government. The facestate project influenced me the most when doing my final as it was the most interesting investigation metahaven done.

I wanted to design a poster with a minimalist affect. Reason for this was because from looking at previous work from metahaven, in design terms it’s basic and straight forward. What you see is what you get, although some of their work isn’t visually effective or pleasing, the reasons behind it is more focussed on as they have loads of background research. So I wanted to do something similar to this.

When it came to doing my final, I took inspiration from looking at one of their designs from the Stadtstaat project. Reason being as I thought aesthetically it was simple and worked. Although the words didn’t really make sense relating to the project, the layout of it and the shapes were interesting even though it’s very basic.

This is my final that I produced influenced by the facestate project. When comparing this to the poster I was influenced by, I wanted to take some elements from it which I could use for my one. I used the term ‘social network dystopia’ to give an overview on what I think metahaven are saying about their facestate project. Seeing as they had concern with facebook and it’s connections with friends, enemies and employers, I had the idea that the online social networking age that we are in is a dystopian world. I also found the idea of them seeing facebook as a government surveillance towards the public and interesting thought. On the poster I wanted to give a minimalist look, the colours are of the facebook theme as this is influenced on it. I chose the font impact because I wanted the statement to have a bold look. The writing in the two circles represent the issues occurring about facebook according to metahaven.




Becoming...Methaven Portfolio Sheets  
Becoming...Methaven Portfolio Sheets  

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