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Spaces; Transcending to Outer Space Curating the Relationship Between Graphic and Spatial Design.

Catalogue _ Published to celebrate the Spaces Exhibition at the Design Museum in London, this catalogue offers a comprehensive overview of the work of some of the most important and influential graphic designers of the modern era. As Elliot McKellar, the exhibition’s curator and the book’s co-editor and designer notes: ‘This design exposes the process of making and designing for an exhibition, and of imparting the sense of discovery as archive boxes are opened to reveal hidden treasure. It also gives a greater sense of spatial awareness in graphic design and design that functions in the real world. The book contains a variety of interviews including one with Joe Gilmore (Qubik) conducted by Elliot McKellar. During the course of the interview, Gilmore explains the importance of spatial awareness in design not only to let design breath, but the scale of space and how design fits in to it.



Introduction Pages: 01 - 04 An Essay A Historical and Theoretical Analysis of the Conscious Use of White Space, Its Changing Interpretations and Influence on Graphic Design. Pages: 05 - 46 Showcase Exhibition Designers & Studios Pages: 46 - 47 Interview w/Joe Gilmore w/ Selected Works (Qubik) Pages: 48 - 57 Jérôme Saint-Loubert Bié Inside Inside the White Cube Overprinted Edition Pages: 58 - 67 Spin Studio Design for Exhibition Wim Crouwel: A Graphic Odysey Pages: 68 - 75 Bibliography Pages: 76 - 79 Acknowledgements Pages: 80 - 81

Introduction _ What is space? is it the platform in which we communicate, is it simply the absence of content. How can it be that something so simple and percieved as empty can have so much control in a piece of design. A concious use and more considered use of space in graphic design came about in the modernist era. Whereby design was seeking clarity and effective forms of communication in its simplist form with it came a minimalist look, design seeked to only use the content which is relevant with no decorative elements. The exhibition explores the meaning of space within Graphic Design, Looking at how design relates to space not just in terms of scale but also the space surrounding content in a piece of design, the show also looks at the exhibition space and the relationship it has with graphic design. Not only with the exhibition of work but the way graphic design gives an exhibition/gallery a designed identity. And how that represents a gallery of space and almost the content within it. The show will feature a range of different designers and designs which explore space and its suggnificance and meaning. The show also has various guest speaker who will talk at different points while the exhibition is on. History _ The idea of exhibiting emptiness is a recurring notion in the history of art over the past fifty or so years, almost to the point of becoming a cliché in the practice of contemporary art. Since the exhibition by Yves Klein – “The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State of Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility” in Paris in 1958, totally empty exhibitions have been the statement of different conceptions of vacuums. In art white space has been used in different unique ways, each of which has its own interpretation, as influenced by the artist. In this analysis it will be clear to see how whiteness is defined conceptually through art, in a social context and the connotations it has on an audience. In the context of current graphic design practice white space is increasingly used as a vehicle to effectively communicate a message to an audience and in my view influences the ultimate control in a piece of design as well as implying a statement of aspiration.




A Historical and Theoretical Analysis of the Conscious Use of White Space, Its Changing Interpretations and Influence on Graphic Design.

By Elliot McKellar



Introduction The Changing Interpretations of White Space

In this analysis I will be defining and exploring what ‘white space’ is and what it represents, not just in terms of graphic design, but across a range of contexts and formats. I will consider how white space, which can be perceived as nothingness, can in fact have so much meaning, control and influence on graphic design today, and its potential to shape future graphic design practice. ‘White space is nothing. White space is the absence of content. Yet white space is the ultimate value in graphic design. How could something so minimal be ascribed so much value?’ (Keith Robertson. 1994. p.61) In order to explore the changing interpretations of white space in graphic design, I will undertake a historical and cultural overview of how white space has been used and interpretations of its meaning, during key art and design periods, including Suprematism and Modernism. I aim to identify the different interpretations of white space and its conscious use in work. I believe that such an analysis will contribute to understanding how the use of white space has grown in its significance culturally, and how it’s linked to how white space has become an established part of graphic design. I will also consider the current use of white space and consider the potential cultural importance of its use in future graphic design. ‘Whiteness is woven in to the fabric of culture.’ (David Batchelor, 2000, p.19) In the first chapter I will examine what white space is, and its different uses, by looking at different practices and exploring historical and theoretical references, which have informed its definition and the significance of white space. The analysis begins with reference to Kasmir Malevich’s ‘White on White’ series and the culturally significant movement called Suprematism, which saw the conscious use of white space to convey meaning. Malevich’s conscious use of white space and its power to create meaning has been profoundly influential in the world of art and design, as demonstrated by Brian O’Doherty’s take on white space in relation to gallery space and the meaning it creates. In a comparison of these two examples, both use white space as a integral part of the artwork and how it is displayed, but the meaning that is interpreted by using white space needs to be considered in a social context and how that impacts on the meaning of art. To further my understanding of how social contexts influence interpretation of white space, I will consider David Batchelor’s ‘Found Monochromes’ and compare and contrast his interpretations with Malevich and O’Doherty’s. In consideration of white space, it is also relevant to consider how colour theory impacts on the interpretation of white space, and so I will examine David Batchelors ideas of ‘Chromophobia’.



‘A fear of contamination and corruption by something that is unknown or appears unknowable. This loathing of colour, this fear of corruption through colour, needs a name: Chromophobia’. (David Batchelor, Chromophobia, p.22) Reference to Batchelor’s work provides an opportunity to explore how people respond and interact with the use of white space in a different social context and how that context, communicates meaning. As part of my theoretical research I will then consider ideas around utopianism and how these influenced art and design, represented in its ideal and pure form. This area of research will add to my exploration of the role and progression of white space in modernist graphic design and the transition between, what white space signifies in these different contexts. By doing this, it is my aim to identify, how the role of white space has progressed and visually developed over time, and how a distinct modernist aesthetic was being developed with the use of white space. The research I undertake will explore how the idea of white space being incorporated in design came about through ideas and values of modernism. I will refer to theoretical communication models, including that defined by Shannon and Weaver. This will allow me to understand the process of communication, the transmission of a message and how white space has an impact on how well that message is transmitted. I will compare this theory with Megg’s communication model in order to highlight the influence and level of communication with the use of white space. Finally, I will consider how white space is used in contemporary graphic design, by completing an analysis of Joe Gilmore’s (Qubik Design) work to see how he has incorporated white space in his work and explore the reasons why he consciously made the design decision to do so. As part of my research, Gilmore agreed to an interview. This research into contemporary graphic design will inform my concluding analysis of the changing interpretations of white space, and how advances in technology presents the designer different opportunities to use white space as an exciting, effective means of communication to reach new target audiences.



Chapter One The Historical and Theoretical Interpretations of White Space.

To inform this analysis of white space I will look at historical and theoretical references which have helped shape white space, giving it meaning, a context and explore a range of viewpoints which require consideration when analysing white space and its symbolic nature through history. To provide a universal definition of whiteness in this context is difficult as the status of whiteness has changed and developed over different periods in time, and is reflected in the changing interpretations of whiteness by different artists and audiences. Giving whiteness a meaning is controversial in itself as whiteness has different meaning in different contexts. White is an ‘Achromatic’ colour (use dictionary definition.) which in essence means it is without colour. White is opposite to black, black along with white, is achromatic. These different achromatic forms present different meanings in themselves, white in comparison to black is seen as symbollising innocence and purity as seen in the work of Kasmir Malevich and will be considered in this analysis. White is also identified as a tone as is its opposite black, when combined they make a tone of grey. (Colour Matters, 2011) ‘Technically, pure white is the absence of color. In other words, you can’t mix colors to create white. Therefore, white is the absence of color in the strictest sense of the definition’. (Colour Matters, 2011) In David Batchelors book entitled ‘Chromophobia’ he alludes to the high regard and significance of the use of white space in a range of settings. ‘If colour is unimportant, why is it so important to exclude it so forcefully? if colour doesn’t matter, why does its abolition matter so much’ (D.Batchelor. 2000. p.21) In art white space has been used in different unique ways, each of which has its own interpretation, as influenced by the artist. In this analysis it will be clear to see how whiteness is defined conceptually through art, in a social context and the connotations it has on an audience. In the context of current graphic design practice white space is increasingly used as a vehicle to effectively communicate a message to an audience and in my view influences the ultimate control in a piece of design as well as implying a statement of aspiration. ‘The presence of white space is a symbol of smart, of class, of simplicity, of the essence of refinement. The absence of white space is a symbol of vulgarity, of crassness, of schlock, of bad taste.’ (Keith Robertson.)



Looking at the origins of white space in a variety of visual contexts and understanding its use, meaning and how it was interpreted at different points in time, helps to inform our understanding of the changing interpretations of white space in graphic design. A historical analysis reveals that the most notable conscious user of it in his work was Kasmir Malevich. In 1915 Malevich was one of the first people to introduce white space and whiteness in to the art world and give it meaning. Prior to this there were a lot of images and works, with the emphasis on colour to represent the visible world. Malevich was the first artist to break away from this style of visual representation (realism), his ideas and concepts behind his work pushed the limits and possibilities of abstraction. The most significant work in its use of whiteness and white space in his ‘White on White’ series. It is therefore relevant to consider this series of work and the corresponding ideas and movement developed by Malevich in order to explore what white space meant in this context and how it was interpreted by audiences at that time. To understand Malevich’s approach to his work and the idea of space and whiteness we must first look at the Russian movement he himself established and called ‘Suprematism’. The idea of Suprematism referred to the supremacy of the new visual form. Malevich described his aesthetic theory known as Suprematism. ‘The supremacy of pure feeling or perception’ (The Museum of Modern Art, 2011). This description expresses a great deal in terms of the meanings he wished to convey in the movement he was creating. ‘It became clear to me that new frameworks of pure colour must be created’ (Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 2003, p. 292). This suggests and implies how Malevich saw that the representation and ideas of colour had almost become a thing of the past and associations with negative connotations of life and images prior to the Russian Revolution. “Suprematism is a definite system in accordance with which colour has developed throughout the long course of its culture.’ (Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 2003, p. 292) This new theoretical aesthetic framework constructs meaning in time and in its use of space. It is clear Malevich’s efforts were to create a new language for a new world following the Russian revolution. He created ideas around whiteness and purity and what it meant and how such images and concepts could be interpreted, as well as creating ideas around perception and infinite depth using whiteness. Suprematism made its mark at an exposition in 1915 and is symbolised by Malevich’s ‘black square on a white field’ (Moodbook, 2011). This image represented a turning point for Russian art and


ideology with its simplistic visual appearance, understating the complex, conceptual ideas it symbolises. The powerfully contrasted forms of black and white make for a controversial image symbolic of the social context of the post Russian revolution era. ‘The black square of 1915 had served as a zero point from which Malevich could develop a vocabulary of coloured forms mostly rectangular and often giving the appearance of ‘flying’ in pictorial space’. (Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 2003, p. 292) (Ref Fig01)This saw the transition between paintings of the visual world with all its colour, to the introduction of the idea of creating non-objective canvasses. In describing his work he clearly expresses his ideology of moving away from visual reality and conjuring ideas and concepts through the notion of purity and infinity. This saw the transition between paintings of the visual world with all its colour, to the introduction of the idea of creating non-objective canvasses. In describing his work he clearly expresses his ideology of moving away from visual reality and conjuring ideas and concepts through the notion of purity and infinity. “In referring to non-objectivity, I merely wished to make it plain that suprematism is not concerned with things, objects, etc., and more: non-objectivity in general has nothing to do with it” (Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 2003, p. 292) In the following quote Malevich conceptualises Suprematism as ‘the semaphore of light in its infinite abyss.” (Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 2003, p. 293) (Ref Fig02) Kasmir Malevich was one of the first artists to move away from creating images of the visible world. He pushed the limits of abstraction and its possibilities. Above is a piece of Malevich’s work from his ‘White on White’ series; white form glides on a white expanse. Here we see that colour is limited, though we can still see an obvious contrast between the two different forms of white. With the angled square which is a brighter form of white, being placed on a warmer white, which gives the piece depth and a sense of spatial awareness, heightened by the fact that the square is not centrally aligned in the composition. “White is used in a way of taking away colour itself and actually focusing on the material of the painting you see the touch of the brush and you can see a picture very much about the process of the painting.” (Museum of Modern Art, 2011) I feel that the process and concept within this painting is the beginning of redefining the meaning of white space; the white space


and square created this unbounded space representing infinity and purity. Part of the philosophy around Malevich’s Suprematism movement was to move away from images of reality and to construct ideas about the future world around ideas of infinity, openness, uncorrupted pure feeling and politics. ‘White was the new colour of realism’ (Charles Harrison & Paul Wood, 2003). It can be seen that Malevich’s use of whiteness, linked to its perception of voids, nothingness and infinity holds meaning. The abstract nature of the images can be seen to symbolically represent a new era post revolution generating pure feelings of hope for the reality of the future world. ‘A random distribution of the most attractive colours would never yield as much pleasure as a definite image without colour’ (Jacqueline Lichenstein. 1993. p.29). Malevich’s use of white, the absence of colour helps the composition by unlocking a capacity inherent to whiteness to convey the conceptual side of the work and alluding to a sense of infinity. This series by Malevich brought with it a concept which offered so much more than a collection of work. It was revolutionary, in all senses of the word and raised ideas which had never been considered before and in such a way that it created new meaning. ‘Malevich had burst through colour into white, the ‘colour’ of infinity. (Larissa Zhadova,1982. p.282-3.) Malevich’s use of space and the concept behind his white on white series was to create spatial awareness as a representation of pure feeling. This concept of spatial awareness is presented in a 2D format which in itself challenges our understanding of how ideas and concepts of space, perception and depth can be represented in this format. In 1915, such ideas in art were ‘revolutionary’, but analysis of these images at a different point in time opens up different interpretations, so for example, in my opinion his use of whiteness can no longer be interpreted as effectively representing a void. A void connotes emptiness, nothingness, but his use of two tones of white in effect creates a powerful contrast and visual presence, it gives the work shape, excluding it by definition as a void. This highlights how, in my view, whiteness can be interpreted differently. At the time his work was developed his ideas were so revolutionary, and his post Russian revolution audiences were ready to view and see the world differently, they were open to interpreting his use of whiteness, as a void full of endless possibilities. As ideas and concepts have developed, I would argue that viewing the images of the white on white series today, it is undeniable that the work remains powerful in its imagery, but the white space cannot be interpreted as representing a void, as its use gives too much presence and meaning. It had also been Malevich’s intention to use whiteness


to represent the essence of purity , in the context of the era this can be understood, and reflects the massive shift in thinking embodied within the ideas of Suprematism. In the context of todays world and interpretation, I believe his work creates paradox: how can whiteness be represented as purity if in reality it has been manipulated in to different tones and shades of whiteness? Nevertheless, Malevich’s work gave new ideas and meaning to the art world, creating new dimensions and possibilities to develop future work. It was the apparent simplistic nature of suprematism which significantly shaped and informed subsequent art and design movements notably modernism and minimalism. ‘I have ripped through the blue lampshade of the constraints of colour. I have come out into the white. Follow me, comrade aviators. Swim in the abyss. I have set up the semaphores of suprematism.’ (Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 2003, p. 292) Malevich’s revolutionary approach to art and conceptualising ideas in the movement of Suprematism, also extended to how he chose to display his work in his exhibition of 1915. He chose to display his pieces of work close together and placed the iconic ‘Black Square’ in the corner of the room making it the focal point of the exhibition space, challenging the conventions of traditional ways in which work was hung. ‘Malevich’s work using new symbols... circles, squares and crosses hovering on white planes on the walls were transferred to another space and another meaning’ (moodbook, 2011). This would suggest that Malevich recognised there was a limit to how his work could effectively conceptualise infinity, he consciously used the potential of the exhibition space to add to the conceptual nature of his work, including the interpretation of whiteness and white space. (Ref Fig 03) This leads me on to my next discussion point concerning white space as part of a bigger picture, not just in terms of visual arts and communication, but also in the ideas of the space surrounding the things we view, and how that fits in to a social context, and is inextricably linked to how ideologies, meaning and interpretations of white space change. To develop this discussion, it is relevant to consider Brian O’Doherty’s ‘Ideology of the Gallery Space’. O’Doherty, whose alter ego is known as Patrick Ireland, was a conceptual artist, with a background in sculpture design, but he is also a highly regarded art critic. He argues, when looking at white space in regards to a gallery space, you have to consider the issue of enclosure, and the impact this has, not only on the works of art


presented, but also on the audience who is viewing these selected works. ‘People forget about the outside world in a gallery. The way gallery space was designed was so it’s all about the art’ (O’Doherty. 1999. p.15). The significance of an exhibition space is huge, and I intend to explore the symbolic nature of the gallery space, its use of white space, the significance of its use and how that can be interpreted. It is therefore important to be able to identify changing interpretations of the use of white space in a gallery, and compare its use to that of Malevich, and explore how its use is a reflection of ideologies of the time. The ideas of a gallery and its space is to exhibit works of art in some form or another. O’Doherty highlights that the gallery is closed off from the outside world, and is about the art and nothing else, at least that is the intention of the design. ‘The white walls apparent neutrality is an illusion’ (O’Doherty. 1999). O’Doherty goes on to discuss the meaning of the white space used in a gallery. The intentions of the white wall is to bring focus on the art, it is used, and seen as a way of bringing the viewers eye’s to the work as it possesses no distraction as it is ‘neutral’, However, in my view there is the potential for the overwhelming expanse of white to swallow the work, in effect neutralising the content of the work. The idea of a gallery space is to be free from context, so it is the works of art which are the focal point, the content. ‘The outside world must not come in’ (O’Doherty. 1999). Anything from the outside world should not influence these works of art, the gallery is conceived as a place without context. Time and social space is something which is to be avoided in viewing these works of art in order to allow the works, to be self contained. Creating an aura of timelessness, this ideology is in marked contrast to Malevich and how he used white space of the gallery as a vehicle to reflect the era, and his Suprematism ideology bringing the outside in. However, a common theme for both Malevich and O’Doherty in the interpretation of white space, is how it is used for framing. For example, the framing in Malevich’s White on White series; the line of the skewed square in the composition on the warmer white, is not completely straight and definite, which connotes the idea of infinite space in the piece. Linking this idea with how work is framed in a gallery, and how that white space surrounding the pieces of work adds to the meaning, interpretation and importance of the art. ‘Once the wall became an esthetic force, it modified anything shown on it. The wall, the context of the art, had become rich in a content it subtly donated to the art.’ (O’Doherty,1999. p.34) This highlights the view that the wall has become part of the artwork, the wall gives these pieces of art meaning and its


significance... does this meaning of the gallery space change the interpretation of the gallery white space, as well as influencing the interpretation of the art work? ‘There is something splendidly luxurious about the way the pictures and the gallery reside in a context that is fully sanctioned socially’. (O’Doherty. 1999). When artwork is created it is a piece of artwork in its own right, but when displayed, it can take on different meaning dependent on where it is displayed. In this context, gallery space is not a neutral container, and should be regarded as a historical and social construct, and how art is interpreted within its walls is inextricably linked with the world outside of the walls. (Ref Fig04) William Anastasi is an American artist, the above piece of work shows an interesting play on spatial awareness and the spatial context of the gallery. This work continues to develop the concepts behind Malevich and O’Doherty its interpretation of white space by using the context of the gallery to create content, which is the gallery space and the walls. Anastasi silkscreened this information on to canvas, smaller to the actual size of the gallery space, so it could be placed in the space, but also allows you to juxta-pose the two representations of the gallery space. A central theme in Anastasi’s art is the relationship between the object and its context. Frequently, the gallery itself becomes the frame for this exploration. (Peter Blumb Gallery, 2011) In Anastasi’s piece of art, it includes an architectural perspective, as well as consideration of the surface texture of the gallery space. The image raises the question as to what represents the gallery space most? If the gallery white space is neutral to display content of works of art, then is the silk screen part of the context or the content? ‘When the paintings came down, the wall became a kind of ready-made mural and so changed every show in that space thereafter.’ (O’Doherty. 1999. p.34)

(Ref Fig05) Yves Klein’s work reflects the use and interpretation of white, pioneered by Malevich and developed further by O’Doherty in his exploration of gallery space ideology. Above is an example of the exhibition created by Klein ‘Le Vide’ translated in English as ‘The Void’. Here the white space was the content and the context he created his exhibit by painting a Paris gallery white and leaving it empty. O’Doherty conceptualises this idea ‘The edges as a firm convention looking in the subject had become fragile’ (O’Doherty, p.22). The most striking part of O’Doherty’s essay and his notes on the gallery space, is the ideas of how the contrast of context and content within the gallery space are fragile and blurred. O’Doherty’s intention is to contextualise these apparent de-contextualised


spaces, which are in fact steeped in history and social meaning. These ideas are developed and demonstrated through David Batchelore’s ‘Monochromes’ work. In his collection, there is a more explicit demonstration of white space and surface and signifies contextually in relation to its surrounding space. Consideration of his work and his idea of ‘Chromophobia’, will help to inform my ideas about the use of white space, its interpretation and his work links to ideas presented by both Malevich and O’Doherty. In brief, Batchelor conceptualises ‘Chromophobia’ as the notion that people are afraid of colour, how that fear of colour impacts on how images are viewed, how that influences meaning and significance and how the context of his work influences the interpretation. Batchelor’s ‘Found Monochromes’ were photo documented using a 35 mm slide film camera and were social blanks found in cities, the way whiteness has been interpreted and presented in this work is very unique. ‘A monochrome has to be uniform: the slightest hint of modulation breaks the spell’ (David Batchelor, 2010) “The first thing I should say about the photographs is that at the time I never thought of them as works. Rather, I imagined them as ammunition – blanks possibly – in an argument about the monochrome and the relationship of abstract art to modernity.”(David Batchelor & Jonathan Rée, 2010, p. 297-99.) (Ref Fig06) The above examples offers a sample of Batchelor’s found monochromes and the monochromes are documented in a social space, which in this context, can be seen and interpreted as a gallery space, but with shades of colour as the backdrop. When looking at the monochromes the visual aesthetic and composition looks considered.

A monochrome itself could be classed as an infinite void, but I do feel the way that Batchelor’s monochromes have been presented I feel these void the context of the photos and give the whiteness meaning. The whiteness represents a story in the social city context of the photographs, they look like blanks which have been filled or will be filled, in that they previously had content, or will have content in the form of some sort of advertisement. This indicates a story, a past and a present through time and space, this city blankness is potentially a platform to represent and communicate through, it is the platform for communication.Using the term ‘Found Monochromes’ Batchelor has named his documented photographs suggests a story not only for the individual monochromes but also as a collection, the meaning and narrative of these monochromes can be recognised individually or collectively and the space that the whiteness signifies is huge when looking at them all together. ‘Certainly I am more interested in pointing to monochromesin-the-world than to my photos of them, and one reason is that the photographs are not intended to be anything special as photographs. They are documents.’ (Batchelor & Jonathan Rée, 2010, p.297) Batchelor’s documents tell a story and shows how the monochrome series seem to have cut their own ‘blankness’ out of the social context of the city which has become part of the story in the changing interpretations of whiteness.

‘When I’m actually photographing a monochrome it is the last thing that’s in my mind. At that moment it is a flat, static abstraction that I need to line up in the frame figuring out the right proportion of monochrome to cityscape.’ (David Batchelor & Jonathan Rée, 2010, p. 297-99.) The white surrounded by a context, shape the monochromes, and give them another interpretation. To illustrate the affective force of the monochrome it can be seen in the image amongst the graffiti how the white monochrome bursts out of the red wall in stark contrast, in doing so the impact of the graffiti tag is lost and my implication the graffiti artist’s identity is lost in that social context. It’s the surrounding space which give the monochromes a context, defining its shape, this white space therefore cannot represent a void. These apparent voids have a context, so it leaves you wondering what the whiteness represents. ‘A monochrome is always situated somewhere between the mystery of an infinite void and the ordinary materiality of a flat surface.’ (Batchelor & Jonathan Rée, 2010.p.197).



(Fig 01) Russian avantgard. Black Square. 1915. Kasmir Malevich

(Fig 04) William Anastasi, West Wall, Dwan Main Gallery, 1967.

(Fig 02) Suprematist Composition: White on White Kasmir Malevich

(Fig 05) Yves Klein, ‘Le Vide’ (The Void) Interior of exhibition.

(Fig 03) Hermitage Amsterdam. Suprematism exhibition 0.10. 1915. Kasmir Malevich

(Fig 06) David Batchelor, 2010. Found Monochromes.



Chapter Two White Space In Modernism.


Analysis of the ideas and interpretations of white space both from a theoretical and historical perspective, provides a significant contribution to understanding the use and meaning of white space. To further this understanding it is relevant to now focus my research specifically on the use of white space in graphic design. The influence of modernism as an art and design movement is key to exploring how and why the interpretation of white space has changed when used in graphic design. In the context of graphic design white space can be referred to as negative space; an association of space which refers to the area that is absent of content in a piece of design. In my view white space is so much more when considered in graphic design, there are a lot more elements to design which need white space to be used and consciously considered. White space in design is the space between the letters, the margins on a page, the space between images and more, legibility is key in design as graphic design is about effective communication. Below is an example of kerning and the use of white space in communicating a message in practice. (Ref Fig07) In the above example you can see how vital space is, in the first example the letter spacing is very narrow making the letterforms harder to distinguish. The letters ‘r’ and ‘n’ are difficult to read as two separate letters, they almost come together to create a ‘m’ which would then read incorrectly. The other two examples also highlight how white space needs to be used consciously to make a positive contribution to ensuring effective communication. (Ref Fig08) Line spacing follows a similar principle as shown in the above image. The space between each line alters the way in which we read, the less white space used, makes it harder to distinguish words and sentences, whereas too much white space can make body copy hard to read and text and meaning hard to follow. A distinct visual style of Modernism emerged in the late 1920’s lasting until the late 1960’s, in terms of graphic design there were two main themes which were distinct in its development. The first theme is the idea of Minimalism which favours a clean, and to the point, simplistic finish, eliminating visual elements which are considered as clutter and not necessary in communicating a message. This new age was seeking simplicity, where less is more. The second theme of modernism in graphic design is the focus on ‘Improving’ energies which refers to how advances in technology progress the way we design. These developments added a more technical dimension to design, with its possibilities experimentation was encouraged (Malcolm Barnard, 2005. p114). Ideas of colour became more apparent and changing the interpretation and meaning of white space. I will therefore consider if white space was being used as an aesthetic and explore how and why that was possible and how white space was interpreted at this point in time.


One focus of modernism in graphic design and minimalism was the rejection of decoration and the favouring of clean and to the point methods of communication. I will focus on designers which reinforce these ideas, as well as looking at how white space is incorporated in to graphic design consciously, if at all, and if through its use, different interpretations of white space became apparent. Graphic design, is fore-mostly is about problem solving and is there to communicate with an audience in a way which is appropriate and relevant. In Adolf Loos’s essay ‘Ornament and Crime’ he argues... ‘The ornamentation or decoration of objects is to be avoided, because it causes them to quickly go in and out of style.’ (Adolf Loos. 1997). The idea behind Loos position simplifies communications to its core fundamentals and defines how any decorative elements in design should not be used because they affect the level of communication in the message. I support this view, as in my opinion design serves a purpose and has to be relevant and in an appropriate tone of voice, so all information conveyed in that message, has to have a point and meaning in the message being communicated. (Ref Fig 09) The image is a product of modernist design, I have already considered the influential ideology and themes described within the book. To emphasize the powerful content of the book I feel it is relevant to consider the design of the book and how the content influenced the design and layout as well as the influence of modernism in graphic design. Brian O’Doherty’s essays were first published in Artforum in 1976. The book was designed by Jack W. Stauffacher an American printer and book designer. What really stands out when looking at the book is how its cube format is an obvious reflection of its title. There is not only the title link but the book also echoes how the original essays were published in Artforum which was of a similar format. In an interview by Paul Cummings with John Coplans, cofounder of Artforum, explains that the magazine’s choice of square format aimed to avoid privileging vertical reproductions over horizontal ones, a common problem in art magazines. (John Coplans. 1975). This would support the design decision made by Stauffacher keeping to the cube format of both Artforum and the book title. The Font choice of Méridien designed by modernist typographer Adrian Fruitiger is used throughout the book. Considering the content of the book and the white walls of the gallery space there is an obvious conscious use of white space in the book layout, with generous amounts used in the margins, this helps frame the blocks of text in the same essence as O’Doherty describes in his essays. The title ‘Inside the White Cube’ covers the width of the cover which draws the eyes to the edges of the book, so there is a clear relationship and understanding of the space and the format of the book by pushing it to the edges. There are clearly no elements of decoration, every element in the design has


a purpose and serves as a form of the message being communicated, through the title and content and excludes elements of decorative visuals.  (Ref Fig10) Referenced is a piece of work by Yann Sérandour, a French artist. Sérandour literally placed O’Doherty’s book ‘Inside the White Cube’ in to a 3D cube which was then placed in to a gallery space. This in itself serves to be thought provoking considering the content of the book focuses on the significance of gallery space. ‘It is precisely this truncated third dimension that Sérandour restores to the book in his piece Inside the White Cube (Expanded Edition) (2008).’ (Appendix 1) In Sérandour’s interpretation he has created a work which is a visual representation of O’Doherty’s book, making the book become the content but in a different context where the book has become the subject to gaze and as a 3D object it successfully communicates spatial awareness and depth in meaning to audiences. (Ref Fig11) Yann Sérandour produced, in collaboration with Jerome Saint-Loubert Bié, a French artist and book designer an over printed version of Brian O’Doherty’s ‘Inside the White Cube’. I spoke to Jerome Saint-Loubert Bié (Appendix 1) to find out if he could give me further insight in to the design decisions which were made in the production of the book and how the ideas and content of the book as well as the original design influenced the shape and direction of this collaboration. ‘Sérandour’s Overprinted Edition use the exact same raw materials: the same paper stocks, black ink, glue, and binding thread, and all in the same quantity.’ (appendix 1). The overprinted edition also uses colour which can be linked to David Batchelor and his ‘Found Monochromes’ as the white cube in the cover is shaped by its context and and in this case, the surrounding colour. As well as linking this to Batchelor in the introduction Bié explains that the white square can also refer to many works from history such as Malevich but above all else, it constitutes a new ‘blank page’ (Appendix 1) (Ref Fig12). The book was produced in French and English editions and were distinguished by the use of colour. The two editions have been placed into a case which brings ideas together from both O’Doherty and collaborators Yann Sérandour and Jerome Saint-Loubert Bié. The inside spread of the case is a life-size photograph of the printed cover for Artforum in which O’Doherty essays were first published. ‘The size of this Overprinted Edition is identical to Artforum, in which appeared the earliest publication of the first White Cube essay’ (Appendix 1)


Opposite the Artforum cover a life-size image of Inside the White Cube which when the overprinted editions are placed in the case communicates how the book’s layout and design have been directed. The ideology and designs within O’Doherty’s Inside the White Cube have clearly been very influential. The design process to communicate such concepts is undeniably detailed but nevertheless successfully retains a simplistic quality ensuring clarity of the ideas being communicated. The book cover of ‘Inside the White Cube‘ is clearly influenced by modernist design and reflects themes of ‘Less is More’ through its simplistic clear, clean, typographical layout and use of white space. These design directions are reflected by Louis Sullivan’s Law that ‘form ever follows function’ in design. This suggest the way something looks should be determined by its purpose and lends itself to ideas of ‘Less is more’ which became increasingly popular in design as a trend for simplistic and direct form of visual communication. Walker reinforces these ideas, he sees the role of the graphic designer as finding the optimum solution to the design problem’ (Walker 1989, p159). This follows a core principle of a modern aesthetic with design striving for effective forms of communication in its simplest form as supported by Walker, Sullivan and Loos. Whilst a visual aesthetic and modern look was being developed there was also development and progress in design techniques, not just in terms of aesthetics but from a more technical perspective with printing techniques which influenced modernism and the production of products and tools used to design. ‘Origins are in the idea of good coming from boundless technology and it is essentially utopian’ (Glaser, 1997, p.132). It can be seen that there are parallels between Glaser and Malevich’s aspiration to live in a utopian world, their different interpretations of that world are a reflection of their different experiences within a historical and social context. Glaser saw that technology held the hope to achieve utopianism whereas Malevich visualised his utopian world and represented that vision with the use of white space as a place without corruption full of purity and hope. ‘Modernist design theory ‘assumed’ that the ‘machine aesthetics, technology and principles like ‘form follows function’ would determine the shape and appearance of building and products.’ (Walker 1989, p159) Walker offers an alternative view to Glaser in suggesting that there is some naivety in the theory of modernist design by assuming the ideals of ‘Form Follows Function’ would always lead to good design, raising the question of how to define good design objectively when it is subject to interpretation. The turning point for a more significant acknowledgment and


place for white space was the modernist use of the grid where a more rationale use of incorporating white space in to design becomes increasingly more apparent, especially in print publications where legibility, interaction and narrative became essential in design. ‘Grids are carefully honed intellectual devices, infused with ideology and ambition.’ (Ellen Lupton, 2004 p.151). The designer has the power to communicate a feeling and evoke emotions through design by manipulating the way we read, see and understand information. Grids are a series of vertical and horizontal line-work used in the production of design. The grid is used by designers to help structure content with layout by aligning imagery and text in a functional manner so the viewer can navigate and read a spread. When doing so a hierarchy of information has to be established which reinforces the idea of less is more and what is necessary in terms of the content. The grid in terms of print publications establishes the margins on a spread, the gutters (space between blocks of text) and these factors influence the use of space which means the designer has to think about the space and its interpretation and meaning. (Ref Fig13) ‘The ordering system, or hierarchy, defines the level of activity and importance for every visual element and determines their sequence through the design. Dominant and subordinate visual elements are composed decisively to achieve clarity. No visual element is insignificant; each one contributes in overt and subtle ways to the communication of the message. A strong, systematic hierarchy provides accessibility, continuity, integration, navigation, and a variety within design’. (Kristin Cullen, 2007, p72-73). The introduction and increasing use of the grid in modernism saw the beginning of the modernist Swiss style whereby designers were heavily influenced by the grid and its potential. Grids could be developed and tailored by a designer to help exploit and experiment with layout convention. I want to look into examples of Modernist design to see if white space is a priority in the design decision and production, This will help identify and establish if modernism actually was about the use of white space or if it was more about ideas of ‘less is more’ and ‘form follows function’.   (Ref Fig14) Advances in technology, printing techniques and experimental use of the grid meant that layout could be pushed and conventions explored particularly in publication design and magazine layout. Above is the work of Alexei Brodovitchi and a series of spreads he designed when at Harpers Bazaar. I feel these spreads demonstrate a clear modern aesthetic the simple elegance of the imagery and text combined with an obviously considered spatial awareness, the black and white imagery and text sat on top of the whiteness gives it a modern look and also in relation to Loos’s ideas


of ornaments there are now decorative visuals in the design. Though another interpretation you could argue the experimental layout of the body copy is in fact a decorative element. However, I feel these layouts show a great understanding and consideration of design and the balance of white space and of spatial awareness. The relationship between the type and image in the magazine spreads has a direct influence on the layout. The shape and figures of the subjects in the photograph have influenced the layout of the text as well as the black and white photography being replicated on the opposing spread where there is no colour and the page is in black and white. The nature of the Harper’s Bazaar was fashion focused which considering the context and the time It is worth considering the audience which the editorial was targeting and if the visual aesthetic aspired for a refined simplistic future where less is more. There is no doubt the grid helped influence designers and their conscious understanding of white space in layout design, the variety and bespoke nature of the grid meant designers were able to experiment with conventions of layout and print publication. (Ref Fig15) Max Bill’s spread design is a lot more formal in comparison to Alexei Brodovitchi. Designed towards the beginning of the modernist period it is less experimental to the previous example but shows great awareness of space and use of margins with the framing of content. “modernism in Graphic Design can be identified by stylistic simplicity, a flatness of form, a taste for asymmetrical composition and the reduction of elements to a minimum. (Aynsley, 1987; p138)

design but poster design and more. This meant layout had to be more considered and visually balanced. This modern aesthetic not only informed the Swiss style but also the Minimalism movement which took core aspects of Modernism much like the Swiss style, though Minimalism took key aspect of modernism its relation to the use of white space was not apparent and practiced. Minimalism often consisted of three dimensional works of art made during the 1960’s, the term minimalism and its careless association of whiteness is not apparent. (D. Batchelor, Chromophobia. p.12). The use of white space was and is interpreted as a modernist aesthetic to communicate clarity. Modernism developed ideas of spatial awareness in graphic design. This aesthetic which was created through modernism matched the aspirations of the people of that time and the world they aspired to live in. which took core aspects of Modernism much like the Swiss style, though Minimalism took key aspect of modernism its relation to the use of white space was not apparent and practiced. Minimalism often consisted of three dimensional works of art made during the 1960’s, the term minimalism and its careless association of whiteness is not apparent. (D. Batchelor, Chromophobia. p.12). The use of white space was and is interpreted as a modernist aesthetic to communicate clarity. Modernism developed ideas of spatial awareness in graphic design. This aesthetic which was created through modernism matched the aspirations of the people of that time and the world they aspired to live in.

The approach to this design illustrates a clear use of the grid. Looking at the design a three column grid is in place with the blocks of text, the images cross over these columns and align with the blocks of text. This shows a conscious use of margins and space. Also, the images are placed at the top of the spread, above the text which mirrors the asymmetrical composition ideas raised by Aynsley. It is therefore clear to me the ideas and themes of modernism in graphic design involve a conscious use of white space. Incorporating white space contributes to the ideas of ‘less is more’ with ‘form following function’ making the message clear. Graphic designers use the white neutral background to create meaning. The white space is the platform for the design to speak as a direct, clear, simplistic but effective form of communication. Stripping design back to its essential necessities was the ideals which formed an aesthetic of the Modernist time and also informed the Modernist Swiss style and the use of the grid. In my opinion this raised the idea of white space and spacial awareness in layout not just in terms of editorial



(Fig 07) Kerning. Image by Elliot McKellar. Demonstrating ‘Kerning’ in practice. Typeface Neuzeit Grotesk, (Fig 08) Line spacing, Thinking with Type. Ellen Lupton. (Fig 09) Inside the white cube, Brian O’Doherty - cover image


(Fig 10) Yann Sérandour, Inside the White Cube. Palis de Tokyo,Paris, 2008.

Kerning Kerning Ke rn i ng

(Fig 11) Inside the White Cube - ‘The overprinted edition’. Jerome SaintLoubert Bié & Yann Sérandour.


(Fig 15)

32 Die Neue Architektur/The new Architecture Book, 1940. Designed by Max Bill, Author Max Roth.

Multicolumn Grid, Thinking with Type. Ellen Lupton, 2004, Thinkin with type

Citrinitas. Alexei Brodovitch, editorial design at Harper’s Bazaar, 1940’s and 1950’s.

Inside the White Cube - ‘The overprinted edition’. Jerome Saint-Loubert Bié & Yann Sérandour.

Chapter 2 List of illustrations (Fig 14)

(Fig 13)


Chapter Three White Space In Graphic Design Today


The interpretation of white space in graphic design through Modernism signifies and symbolises a Modern aesthetic which values clarity, simplicity and ideas around less is more. The awareness and understanding that white space contributes to those values means that white space has become increasingly used consciously through the use of grids especially in the form of printed publication. The space in a publication allows the designer to manipulate the way we read, influences the pace, the narrative and the way we interact with a publication and its content and how we interpret the message being communicated. In order to further investigate the interpretation of white space it is relevant to consider the conscious use of white space by graphic designers in current practice and what its use symbolises and its significance and impact on communication. With this in mind a brief overview of key communication theories will contribute to an understanding of how white space is interpreted but also how that interpretation is communicated to an audience. As an example of contemporary design practice which uses white space consciously I will consider the design work of Qubik, a design studio based in Leeds headed by Joe Gilmore. Specialising in typographic-led design for branding, print and digital media, the studio works with a variety of clients in the commercial and cultural sector with clients from Grafik Magazine to the Royal Institute of British Architects. A piece of Gilmore’s work which caught my attention was a book produced for American artist Tauba Auerbach’s ‘Tetrachromat’ exhibition presenting a series of painting entitled ‘Folds’. (Ref Fig16) Above in Auerbach’s work you can see she has a background in typography, using words and letterforms to create works of art, in these works she has a clear understanding of the grid as the examples show a light grid whereby the letterforms rest. This piece demonstrates an understanding of kerning and ultimately this piece is about the space between letters and how they literally translate the word ‘Splitting’. Whilst also showing an acknowledgement of the use of margins, line and letter spacing, the idea surrounding Auerbach’s Splitting work can easily be seen through modernist ideas and theories, especially through the concept ‘Less is more’, the word is literally becoming Less but it is becoming more in what the work represents through the obvious relationship between what the word means and the visual interpretation. (Fig 17) Gilmore’s book of Auerbachs exhibition caught my attention with its systematical approach to the narrative and design as well as the use of whiteness. I wanted to use this in relation to my investigation of white space as the book utilises a lot of white space and I was interested to find out why that was and the significance of doing so. I also felt it was necessary to find out first hand and contact Gilmore with a series of questions which would help identify why white space


has been used in a contemporary professional design practice and how it has been interpreted. I want to also look at the communication level of Gilmore’s design in terms of communication theory to make clear how white space is really interpreted by its audience. To develop an understanding of the interpretation of white space it is important to consider the process of communication and the transmission of a message using key communication theories to facilitate that understanding. The first model of communication was defined by Shannon and Weaver in 1940 (J. Fiske. 1999. p.06) Their basic model of communication is presented as a simple linear process as depicted below. (Ref Fig18) As part of the communication model Shannon and Weaver identify 3 levels of problems which need to be considered as part of the communication process these are:- (Ref Fig19) Shannon and Weaver claim that their theory is widely applicable over the whole question of human communication. (J.Fiske. 1999). As the examples given in the above table demonstrate it is possible to apply the theory to graphic design practice. In type and image, Meggs (1992) relates the communication in graphic design from the perspective of communication theory. He uses Shannon and Weaver’s model as the framework to develop his own understanding of communication within graphic design. Megg’s graphic depiction of the theory also follows a linear form to represent the communication process in which he explains communication as the ‘transfer of information between people’ where information is defined as ‘knowledge about facts and event.’ (Meggs, 1992, p.03) (Fig 20)The process begins with the ‘information source’ which produces the ‘raw information’ to be transmitted and the transmitter (encoder) transforms the information into a signal that is appropriate for the channel of communication. Then the receiver (decoder) translates the signed back into the ‘original message’ and the recipient receives the message. As with the Shannon and Weaver model, the signal is subject to potential ‘noise’ which Meggs defined as a ‘distortion’ of, or an ‘interference’ with, that signal. (Barnard p.20). The next stage is to consider whether the models can be applied to understand and interpret the meaning of white space in graphic design. In respect of Tauba Auerbach’s exhibition book ‘Folds’ the graphic designer Joe Gilmore (Qubik) has incorporated white space as an integral part of the books design. Using Shannon and Weavers linear communication model it would be logical to regard Tauba Auerbach’s paintings/images as the message to be communicated and that the desired meaning can only be conveyed and achieve the desired response if there is an absence of noise. (Fiske, find source) defines noise as anything that is added to the signal between its transmission and reception that is not intended by the source. Semantic noise (level B) is defined as any distortion of meaning


occurring in the communication process which is not intended by the source but which affects the reception of the message at its destination. In Gilmore’s book for Auerbach there is a heavy use of white space and arguably could be described as ‘noise’ in that it has been added to the signal (painting) between its transmission and reception and that its presence detracts from the meaning of the image i.e semantic noise.  (Ref Fig21) However in the context of Tauba Auerbach’s Folds exhibition the whiteness of the gallery space appears to be integral contributing to the context and the meaning of the art pieces. Gilmore’s exhibition book for Auerbach uses white space to similar effect and a recent structured interview with him provided an opportunity to explore his intentions to use white space and its role in the design and communication process. ‘White space is important in any design, at least as important as the actual content. Art books especially so because the book seeks to replicate somewhat the experience of seeing the art works in a gallery context. So from the beginning of working on ‘Folds’, the works – the paintings – were probably already going to have a generous amount of white space around them.’ (Appendix 2) Traditionally galleries are full of white space and arguably whiteness in this context was not used consciously. What sets Tauba Auerbach’s work apart is the unconventional framing/hung position of her pieces which in effect maximises the use of white space which is clearly consciously used and as such its use is open to interpretation. This unconventional way Auerbach displays her work could be related to her background in typography, design and in relation to the use of grids (chapter two). Auerbach appears to have a clear understanding of margins and the boundaries/edges of the gallery space and has utilised it in her exhibition. (Ref Fig22&23). The figures demonstrate the design direction and the use of white space. This shows how Gilmore has replicated the way Auerbach’s work is hung in the gallery space. When I asked what design decisions were made in the process of the book and how that influenced the way Auerbach’s work was laid out in the book it is clear there is a conscious acknowledgement of white space in the social context of the gallery and how that translates in to book format. ‘Tauba in the early stages pointed out that her paintings are always hung in rather unconventional ways: usually close to the floor or corner or edge of a wall. She sent me some installation photographs illustrating this concepts and I used the same strategy in the book, to position the paintings near the edges of the page. (Appendix 2)


In relation to previous development of what white space signifies in the second chapter in relation to modernism I asked how Gilmore saw the purpose of white space in his work, to see if it was about clarity, minimalism, the idea of less is more or a means to relate to a target audience. ‘Less is more and clarity are definitely a purpose. I’m also attracted to minimalism in general – not only in design but in music, film and art. There is almost too much noise in the world, I mean visual noise, the Internet, TV etc.’ (Appendix 2) This implies Gilmore’s wariness to visual noise and clutter not just in terms of graphic design but across different medias. This also helps establish a link to a modern aesthetic with the idea of less is more and clarity and how that has influenced graphic design today and the way we communicate. ‘A lot of design is really about editing – which means removing unnecessary content. I’m always asking myself “is this necessary to communicate the message?’. (Appendix 2) Again establishing links between ideals of the modernist period and laws such as ‘Form Follow Function’ which were developed in Chapter two, This helps to demonstrate how these design decisions are relevant in a contemporary professional design practice today, ultimately because it makes for an effective, relevant and appropriate form of communicating with an audience. (Ref Fig24) These design principles of Gilmore’s become more apparent when looking through his portfolio of work, there is a lot of clean, simple and effective pieces of design which present clarity and show no unnecessary decorative elements which help reinforce a modernist aesthetic but also shows a conscious understanding of how to utalise space in design. Ultimately white space in a contemporary professional design practice is the ground for the content the designer can create meaning and emotion through the understanding and use of that space. If this space is not considered or utilised in the design it will compromise the communication. Design serves a purpose to communicate with an audience in an appropriate and effective manner and if it doesn’t do that then it isn’t a successful piece of design.



(Fig19) Shannon & Wever’s communication model can be applied to graphic design

Folds: Tauba Auerbach. Joe Gilmore, Qubik.

Fig 18 Shannon and Weaver communication model.

Subtraction (Splitting) 2007. Ink and Pencil on Paper. Tauba Auerbach.

Chapter 3 -List of Illustrations

(Fig 19)

40 41

Chapter 3 -List of Illustrations Fig 20 Megg’s Communication Theory. Malcolm Barnard, 2005.

Fig22 & 23 auba Auerbach - Tetrachromat’ exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall & Folds - Tauba Auerbach Inside Spreads. Fig 24 Hell Yes & Chromotologies, Qubik

Fig21 Folds - Tauba Auerbach Inside Spreads.



Chapter 4 Summary


At the beginning of this investigation I wanted to look at how white space was used, its interpretation and meaning as it has heavily influenced my work as a graphic designer. I ultimately wanted to become more knowledgeable of my own use of white space and its interpretation through history and social contexts so my design practice and use of white space would become more considered. Now when I am presented with a brief my considerations when white space is being used is how the message I am communicating is being interpreted and if that white space is doing something to that message and its meaning. (Fig 25) White space is ultimately the platform in which we can create meaning, using white space is skill, too little or too much of it will change the impact of a design. Above is a sample of my own work whereby I have consciously used white space. In conclusion through a historical and theoretical analysis of white space it is clear that its conscious use is open to changing interpretations. The interpretation of white space is inextricably linked to the historical and social context in which the audience is interacting with that whiteness and space. Malevich’s use of white space from the 1915’s aimed to herald a new era, offering a new way of viewing the world post Russian revolution. The cultural significance of Malevich’s Suprematism and the idea of pure feeling and infinity connoted through the use of white has continued to influence the use of white space both in art and graphic design up to the present day. Including O’Doherty (1999) and more recently Batchelor (2010) both of which interpret white space in a context which changed the ideas of whiteness its different interpretation dependant on its social context. Of similar cultural significance to the changing interpretations, is the influence of modernism in graphic design which is demonstrated by Joe Gilmore’s work as recent as 2011 in which he consciously uses white space as a platform to create meaning and context, eliminating any unnecessary ornamentation. Which adds unwanted noise to the message communicated and following Megg’s theory of communication in graphic design the whiteness can be clearly interpreted as part of the message. Its is clear white space will always be open to interpretation throughout history so it raises questions and thoughts as to what will happen in the future how will its use and the way it is interpreted change in time.


Spaces; Exhibition. Featured Designers and Studios

Joe Gilmore (Qubik) [UK] Tauba Auerbach [USA] Jerome Saint-Loubert Bié [FRA] Yann Sérandour. [FRA] Rafaela Drazic (boarders) [SPA] Keith Robertson (talk) [USA] Brian O’Doherty [IRL] Jack W. Stauffacher [USA] David Batchelor [UK] SayWhat-Studio APFEL Studio [UK] Spin Studio [UK] Nicolas Chardon [FRA] Rejane Dal Bello [BRA] Oliver Foulon [BEL] Research and Development [SWE]



Joe Gilmore (Qubik) w/Interview

Qubik is a graphic design studio founded in 2000 by Joe Gilmore. Specialising in typographic-led design for branding, print and digital media, the studio works with a variety of clients in the commercial and cultural sector. Our work includes design for branding, content managed websites, books, catalogues, brochures, posters, leaflets, signage and packaging. In addition to client-based work, the studio initiates and produces independent curatorial and publishing projects which focus on typography and graphic design. They are very passionate about graphic design. Through developing collaborative relationships with our clients and partners we aim to create original, functional and distinctive work that engages users, satisfies the objectives of the client and meets the high standards and creative innovation that are central to their studio practice.



Interview w/Joe Gilmore (Qubik)

How important was the use of white space in the layout of the book. What were the design decisions made in the process and did that influence the way the images of Tauba’s work were laid out in the book? White space is important in any design, at least as important as the actual content. Art books especially so because the book seeks to replicate somewhat the experience of seeing the art works in a gallery context. So from the beginning of working on ‘Folds’, the works – the paintings – were probably already going to have a generous amount of white space around them. When speaking to Tauba in the early stages she pointed out that her Folds paintings are always hung in rather unconventional ways: usually close to the floor or corner or edge of a wall. She sent me some installation photographs illustrating this concept and these ended up in the book in section 3. So I decided to use the same strategy in the book, to position the paintings near the edges of the page. Did the white space hold any meaning, Was it used consciously to frame Tauba’s work or is there another interpretation? White, negative space was used consciously with regard to each painting and its relation to other paintings. Although each spread consists of only 2 or 3 paintings I spent a lot of time choosing which paintings to group together and their relative sizes and position.



Do you see white space as a tool used predominately for framing in graphic design to bring emphasis to a visual hierarchy? It can be used for that but ultimately it’s the ground for the content and it takes a lot of experience and confidence to use white space effectively. A lot of design is really about editing – which means removing unnecessary content. I’m always asking myself “is this necessary to communicate the message?”. What do you see as the purpose of white space in your design work? is it for clarity, minimalism, the idea of less is more or is it a means to relate to a target audience? Less is more and clarity are definitely a purpose. I’m also attracted to minimalism in general – not only in design but in music, film and art. There is almost too much noise in the world, I mean visual noise, the Internet, TV etc. What are your views on the use of white space used by other designers and has that influenced your own work? I am really drawn to ideas such as nothingness I take influence a lot from music. One of my favourite CDs is ‘Series’ by American composer Richard Chartier – the sound is so quiet there’s almost nothing on the CD. Silence is important in music, for example the space between sounds can create tension. There isn’t enough use of silence in music.

Typographic prints created for Catch-Up Leeds documenting SMS text messages sent to him by his six month old daughter.

Things That Happen A set of four books to coincide with the lauch of John Wood and Paul Harrison’s exhibition ‘Things That Happen’ at Carroll / Fletcher, London.

Exhibition catalogue for Eva and Franco Mattes’ exhibition ‘Anonymous, untitled, dimensions variable’ at Carroll / Fletcher, London.

Anonymous, untitled, dimensions

Inside Inside the White Cube Overprinted Edition Jérôme Saint-Loubert Bié

As a graphic designer, he specializes in exhibition catalogues and books by artists. He has worked with the following institutions and publishing houses, among others: Book Works, Centre Pompidou, Christophe Daviet-Théry, La Fabrique éditions, JRP | Ringier, Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Le Point du Jour, Revolver, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König. He is also one of the founding editors of the independent journal Irrégulomadaire.



Yann Sérandour is an artist whose primary interest is in the notion of reading and the book form. This was clear in the group exhibition he curated in 2005, “Un art de lecteurs” [A Reader’s Art], (Galerie Art & Essai, Rennes)—whose title announced an unmistakable statement—and it is highly visible in the present publication by dint of Sérandour’s selection of his own works. Nearly all of them refer to other publications and consequently to other authors and artists. When he and I began working on this project, it seemed only natural to take as a starting point one or several books and to infiltrate them through Sérandour’s “interstitial and mimetic” approach, developed out of “works, publications, and already existing products,” to use his own words. This way of working joins up with my own interest—largely shared by Sérandour—in a comprehension of art through elements traditionally considered as peripheral (catalogs, reproductions, etc.) but which allow a knowledge of the work to circulate and determine its reception, as well as in a contextual approach to artistic practice, in appropriation, in methods of reproduction, and in the fabrication processes of a book. In the early stages of this collaboration, in spring 2008, Sérandour informed me that Patricia Falguières was preparing for La Maison Rouge a French edition of Brian O’Doherty’s book Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space.* Before being published under this title in 1986 by The Lapis Press with a preface by Thomas McEvilley, Brian O’Doherty’s essays first came out in three issues of the magazine Artforum in 1976. Artforum published a fourth essay in 1981, which was included in the book’s Expanded Edition published by the University of California Press in 1999. Sérandour was planning on using copies of the expanded edition for a piece he was to present at the Palais de Tokyo in July 2008 (see page 11). It turned out that the French edition of Inside the White Cube was to be copublished by JRP|Ringier, which also houses the series Christoph Keller Editions, of which the present book is a part. We immediately agreed it was the perfect foundation to work from. Beyond the reference and homage to Brian O’Doherty’s writings, which are essential reading and have since had considerable influence on the production and reception of art, this book evokes, both visually and materially, the various published forms this set of essays took: 1/ in Artforum, which has always preserved—notwithstanding its uneconomical format and even in times of financial crisis—the same 10-inch square format, which is unusual for magazines and therefore so characteristic of this one; 2/ the two English editions in book form, also square in format but smaller, designed by Jack W. Stauffacher who chose the typeface Méridien, by the Swiss typographer Adrian Frutiger; and 3/ the French edition, published as part of a series of small, vertical format books designed by the Swiss graphic design duo no-do.


In an interview with Paul Cummings (John Coplans Interview, 1975 Apr. 4-1977 Aug. 4, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution), John Coplans, cofounder of Artforum, explains that the magazine’s choice of square format aimed to avoid privileging vertical reproductions over horizontal ones, a common problem in art magazines. As for Jack W. Stauffacher’s design of Brian O’Doherty’s book, one could easily imagine that it was only logical to choose the two-dimensional form that was closest to the cube mentioned in the title. It is precisely this truncated third dimension that Sérandour restores to the book in his piece Inside the White Cube (Expanded Edition) (2008), by means of multiplying the number of copies. Shortly after, Sérandour made a piece out of the cover of Artforum’s September 1969 issue, illustrated by Robert Smithson’s First Mirror Displacement (see page 55). Sérandour’s work also often refers to the work of Ed Ruscha (see pages 65, 73, and 83) who, coincidentally, did the layout of the magazine under the pseudonym Eddie Russia between 1965 and the summer of the same year, 1969. And notably, Sérandour has used the form of the white page in several projects, such as Pages blanches [Blank Pages], his contribution to a book published in 2006 on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the Cneai (Centre National de l’Édition et de l’Art Imprimé) or Weiss, shown in 2008 during his solo show at the gallery gb agency (see page 17). All the while keeping Sérandour’s work and working method in mind, the design of the book you have before you borrows from specific material elements of the publishing history of Inside the White Cube and is literally constituted by this history through different layers of printing and format. The most recent layer—the top layer—consists of reproductions of Sérandour’s works and descriptions of them written by the artist. This layer is printed entirely in green (violet for the French edition) over the exact reprinting of the entire set of printing sheets used to produce the French edition of Inside the White Cube. Before, however, those printing sheets were covered with squares of opaque white ink that are the same size as the English editions from 1986 and 1999 (8 in. x 8 in.). Lastly, the printing sheets were folded, bound, and cut to the format of Artforum (10 in. x 10 in.). The result is a palimpsest whose preceding states are buried—literally covered over rather than erased, but whose fragments emerge in the margins and through the semitransparency of the white squares. In accordance with the indexical system of which Sérandour is fond, the white square can, of course, refer to many works from the history of art (by Malevich, Ryman, Manzoni, or LeWitt) but above all else, it constitutes here a new “blank page.” On some pages the image that fills the white square spills over into the margins surrounding it. Meanwhile the ample format preserves the French edition’s printer’s marks (registration and crop marks, signature numbers, etc.), traces that


are normally eliminated when the bound sheets are cut to size. These marks provide the reader with decodable signs of the process. To put it in other words, the size of this Overprinted Edition is identical to Artforum, in which appeared the earliest publication of the first White Cube essay, the typesetting in Méridien is from the English editions of the book, whose design was established by Jack W. Stauffacher with the first edition, and the support, that is, the paper stock and the first layer of printing, is precisely that of the first edition in French, also the latest edition of these essays, designed by no-do. This principle is systematically and meticulously applied to the cover and to the pages inside. While the different publications of a specific text are cited graphically, this process nevertheless reveals the successive stages of fabrication for any book. Printed on large sheets, the pages of a book are arranged, signature by signature, in imposition so that the correct sequence and orientation of pages is obtained once the printing sheets have been folded, bound, and trimmed. In Sérandour’s overprinted edition, the pages of Inside the White Cube’s French edition, which has a rectangular format and is much smaller, are redistributed, shifted, and cropped otherwise in the final large, square format whose imposition is necessarily different. It interesting to note that despite their very different formats and aside from the addition of white and green (or violet) inks, a copy of Brian O’Doherty’s French edition and a copy Sérandour’s Overprinted Edition use the exact same raw materials: the same paper stocks, black ink, glue, and binding thread, and all in the same quantity. Sérandour ordered his projects so that they would form connections with the fragmented pieces of text and image that show through from Brian O’Doherty’s book, appearing in black in the background. We could think of these traces of the original book as “phantoms,” to use the title of one of Sérandour’s pieces (see page 62). Édition fantôme is also the subtitle he gave to the limited edition of this book, which comes in a presentation case issued by Christophe Daviet-Thery (see previous page). This box was designed to provide clues to the book’s layout, all the while incarnating the absence of the original references through photographic illusion. Sérandour’s works, on the other hand, are not so much faithfully and illusionistically reproduced in this book as they are evoked through monochrome illustrations. Moreover, scanned rather than photographed, all of his artist’s publications are presented in actual size (1:1), sometimes only partially, with no attempt at the impossible task of fully restoring a work and its exhibition context through photography. The new piece Sérandour made out of the erroneous publication of a photograph of his exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, taken after part of the work had been stolen (see page 15), humorously plays up the very impossibility of that task. As a matter of fact, the descriptions written by the artist in the pages to come take on chief importance, as they are perhaps better


equipped to document his work and its conceptual implications than is photography. Lastly, the present text is a space for identifying the publishers, editors, and authors (whether they be critics, artists, historians, graphic designers, typographers, etc.) whose work is quoted or borrowed from in the latticework that makes up this book. It is a place to share with readers the choices that led to the resulting publication—something there usually is not room for—and to describe with words the process that ends with what you have in your hands. Describing within a book its own construction completes the circle.


This publication functions as a palimpsest: constructed on the reprint of the first French translation of Brian O’Doherty’s influential book Inside the White Cube (published by JRP|Ringier in the series Lectures Maison Rouge), it superimposes reproductions and commentaries of Yann Sérandour’s work.

Spin Studio Design for Exhibition Wim Crouwel: A Graphic Odysey

The exhibition was designed by 6a Architects with exhibition graphics by Spin. Their modern, minimalist, neutral design perfectly showcases Crouwel’s work, which includes series of original sketches, posters, photos and film clips. Photos by Luke Hayes via the Design Museum.


Spin Culture

To celebrate Wim Crouwel at the Design Museum Spin commissioned some of their favourite graphic design studios to create a Crouwel inspired poster using the grid structure he developed for his series for the Stedelijk Museum Tony Brook co-founded London-based design studio Spin with Patricia Finegan in 1992 and has acquired an international reputation for innovative, effective and award winning design across a wide range of disciplines and media. Brook has also joined the Design Museum team to co-curate Wim Crouwel, A Graphic Odyssey. Approach _ Spin make thoughtful and apposite responses to the needs of their clients. Spin’s work is designed to function across all applications – digital, analogue and environmental. Their creations are always bespoke and often involve specifically developed typefaces and marques. A growing proportion of their work is made for the screen – websites, broadcast sequences and films. Yet in many respects, Spin is a traditional design studio. They value intelligent creative thinking and demand high levels of craft and finishing, and always meet deadlines. In counterpoint to these traditional virtues, their collaborative process promotes experimentation. Spin see it as a fundamental requirement that we push beyond the boundaries of the commissions they receive to make impactful and effective outcomes and add measurable value. Spin’s clients come from many different sectors. They range from the global to the local. Similarly, the projects they undertake are diverse, and range from the small to the monumental. Spin’s studio culture is vibrant and we actively involve ourselves in promoting graphic design and raising awareness about the subject through lectures and the books we publish through Unit Editions, a publishing company they set up in 2008. Spin founder and Creative Director Tony Brook is a member of AGI – a professional body comprising the world’s leading graphic designers. Spin has won numerous awards nationally and internationally, though their primary focus is always on ensuring the successful outcome of the individual commissions we undertake, not on adding trophies to their shelves.



Bibliography A list of all references used in this catalogue, all references were sourced by Elliot McKellar for the essay in the catalogue. For Further reading on this topic the bibliography also acts as a point of further references for readers to research at their own point of interest.

Books Adolf Loos. 1997, Ornament and Crime: Selected essays, Riverside, Calif. Ariadne Press. Brian O’Doherty, 1999 , Inside the white cube: the ideology of the gallery space expanded edition, Lapsi Press San Francisco, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California. p. 07 . 34 15. 79 Charles Harrison and Paul Wood, 2003, Art in Theory 1900 - 2000, 2nd Edition edition Blackwell Publishing, USA. p.292 - 3 David Batchelor, 2000, Chromophobia, Reaktion Books LTD, London. p19. p.22 p.21 David Batchelor and Jonathan Rée, 2010, ‘Nothings’, in Found Monochromes, Vol. 1, 1–250, 1997–2006, Ridinghouse: London, UK. 2010, p. 297-99.) Ellen Lupton, 2004, Thinkin with type: a critical guide for designers, writers, editors and stidents, 2nd ediotion, Princeton Architectural Press (16 Sep 2004) p. 180PAGES used Jacqueline Lichtenstein, 1993, The eloquence of color: rhetoric and painting in the French Classical Age, University of California Press, Berkley. America. p.29 Jan Brand, Anne van der Zwaag, November 16, 2011, Colour in Time, Lannoo Publishers p.172 - 179 j. Aynsley, 1987, Graphic Design in Conway H. (ed.) Design History: A Student’s handbook, London: Routledge. p138 John Fiske, 1990, Introduction to communication Studies, second editions, The Huernsy Press Co Ltd. Kristin Cullen, 2007, Layout workbook: a real-world guide to building pages in graphic design, Rockport Publishers, (p72-73) Larissa Zhadova, 1982, Malevich: Suprematism and revolution in Russian art 1910-1920, London, p. 282-3.)



Milton Glazer, 1997, Some thoughts on Modernism: Past, Present and future. in Heller, S. and Finamore, M (eds) Design Culture: An Anthology of Writing from the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, New York: Allworth Press. Malcolm Barnard, 2005. graphic design as communication. 1st ed. Routledge. London. p114 Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, Steven Heller, and DK Holland, 1994, Looking Closer 4: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, Vol. 4, Allworth Press, USA article by Keith Robertson. When Less is More. p.61-65 Robertson, K. (1994a) White Space: When Less Is More in Bierut, M. et al. eds. Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphic Design Allworth Press New York pp61-65 (alt from web) Walkerm, J.A, 1989, Design History and the History of Design, London, Pluto Press. P. 159 editors/author, 2005,The art of white, Lowry Press, Salford Quays, UK. p.30-41 Wim Crouwel, oct 2010, In His Own Words, Lauwen books, Netherlands Helen Armstrong, 2009. Graphic Design Theory: Reading From the Field. Princeton Architectural Press, America.

Websites Peter blum gallery. 2011. Opposites are Identical [online] Available at: (accessed 12th November,2011)

The Museum of Modern Art, the collection, Suprematist Composition: White on White [online] avalible at: object.php?object_id=80385 (accessed 5th Novemeber,2011)

Mood Book, Kasmir Malevich, Black Square [online] Available at: (Accessed 5th November, 2011)

Colour Matters, 2011. Are Black & White colors? [online] Available at: (Accessed 25th September, 2011) Online Articles. Oral history interview with John Coplans, 1975 Apr. 4 - 1977 Aug. 4, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [online] Available at: (Accessed 14th January)

Paul Cobley and Litza Jansz, 2004, Introducing Semiotics, Icon Books ltd, Cambridge, UK. Robert Klanten and Sven Ehmann, 30 Sep 2010,Turning Pages: Editorial Design for Print Media, Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin. Essays

Museum of Modern Art, Suprematism, Source Oxford University Press. 2009 John Milner, Grove Art. [online] Avaliable at: (Accessed 10th Decemeber)

Adolf Loos. 1997, Ornament and Crime: Selected essays, Riverside, Calif.: Ariadne Press.




Essay Thanks to the following for the references and help in the development of the essay featured in this catalogue which was originally published and written By Elliot McKellar for his academic dissertation and has been adapted to use as content for this catalogue. Andrew Broadey Joe Gilmore Jerome Saint-Loubert BiĂŠ Catalogue All Work featured in this catalogue has been curated by Elliot McKellar, The images used in the book are not mine and have been sourced from the appropriate website which has been recognised in the body copy.



Spaces Exhibition Catalogue Book design and Essay by Elliot Mckellar. Spaces; Transcending to Outer Space Curating the Relationship Between Graphic and Spatial Design.