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978-2-35017-097-8

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W W W . E TA P E S . C O M

-:HSMDPA=V\U^\]:

ISSUE 08

APRIL 2007

SPRING 2007

39$CAD

€29,50


The British are now on

Museum images

www.photo.rmn.fr

Photographic agency of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux 10, rue de l’Abbaye 75006 Paris - France Tel.: 33 (0)1 40 13 49 00 Fax: 33 (0)1 40 13 46 01 e-mail: photo@rmn.fr

The stele is inscribed with a decree, passed by Ptolemy Y Epiphanes, written in two languages and three different scripts: hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek. It was discovered by François-Xavier Bouchard in the town of Rashid (Rosetta) during Napoleon’s expedition into Egypt, in 1799. The bilingual inscriptions enabled Jean-François Champollion to decipher the hieroglyphics. Since 1802, the Rosetta stone has been kept at the British Museum in London.


Graphic design: Pierre Finot - © photo RMN - C. Jean - La belle ferronnière - Léonard de Vinci Musée du Louvre et © The Trustees of the British Museum, Dist RMN, La pierre de Rosette - UK, London, British Museum


© Alix Minde

a PhotoAlto Agency collection - www.photoalto.com

© Frédéric Cirou

Photography where east meets west and life meets zen.


S p ea k V n te r n a l

ly.

Š Matthieu Spohn

C r ea te i

i sua l ly.

Pr em i u m roya lty fr ee photog raphy w ith a d i sti n cti ve Eu ropea n accent - w w w. photoa lto. com


www.eulda.com 2007 call for entries

Eulda, the European Logo Design Annual: the only award scheme in the world endorsed by more than 50 design associations. Endorsed by: (see the full list of endorsers at www.eulda.com)

Media partners:

Sponsored by:


Design and the distance test by Étienne Hervy

Anyone who buys a Mac or iPod is greeted by the words “Designed by Apple in California”, positioned prominently on the packaging. Design, thus credited, helps the buyer forget the electronic and computer technology and places Apple in the realm of ideas and creativity. A styled computer is now less a technological object than a personal pleasure-thing. Even when it relocates its manufacturing, Apple retains its American corporate image and West Coast vibe. California and the folklore of Silicon Valley contribute to the corporation’s brand equity. Design is being relocated, too. Initially viewed as a market, China has in record time – and with huge approximation the price paid – assimilated Western design, publishing or translating many books on European graphic designers. And now the country is ready to provide

labour for Western agencies that originally intended to enter the Chinese market. After all, a need for design is not necessarily a need for quality design. Graphic design’s fragility makes it even more sensitive to this cruel truth. Even so, economic considerations aside, design would do well to consider more carefully the scale at which it best operates. In national and international spheres, issues and languages differ; niche and tribe demographics further refine design’s capacity to adjust and act. But this requires avoiding the logic of images produced for universal use – comprehensible by and acceptable to all, in a vast consensus of styles and values. There is no chance of establishing a dialogue using this graphic Esperanto: you cannot tell who is talking to who. Images should not be confused with signs...

Cover illustration: Erik Kriek, Gutsman Enterprises www.gutsmancomics.com Published in the “crime thriller special” literary supplement in Dutch weekly magazine Vrij Nederland, in 2003. Technique: Indian ink and brush, with computer-generated colours.

15, rue de Turbigo 75002 Paris, France Tel.: +33 (0)1 40 26 00 99 Fax: +33 (0)1 40 26 00 79

Editor & art director Michel Chanaud mchanaud@pyramyd.fr

Translation Paul Jones

ISSN: 1767-47-51 © ADAGP Paris 1999 for its members’ works

Deputy editors Étienne Hervy ehervy@pyramyd.fr Vanina Pinter vpinter@pyramyd.fr

Advertising & marketing manager Nadia Zanoun nzanoun@pyramyd.fr

Printer Saint Paul Imprimeur 38, bld Raymond Poincaré 55001 Bar le Duc, France

www.etapes.com/international

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“Partial or total reproduction or representation by any means of the pages or images in the present publication, without the publisher’s written consent, is illegal and constitutes a breach of copyright.” (translated from the French Law of 11 March 1957, art. 40 and art. 41, and

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Graphic and layout design Jaga Jankowska For French étapes: Karen Brunel-Lafargue, Sylvie Cots, Fabien Mahet, Vivan Mai, Sébastien Riveron (intern), Vanessa Titze. Graphic and layout design © PYRAMYD

Web Pascal Le Moign plemoign@pyramyd.fr

Contributors Brice d’Antras, Caroline Bouige, Marie Bruneau, Stéphane Darricau, Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle, Bertrand Genier, Joshua Haymann, Sylvie Lambert, Alain Le Quernec, Pierre Ponant, Véronique Vienne

Publisher Michel Chanaud mchanaud@pyramyd.fr

Subscriptions Laurent Robic lrobic@pyramyd.fr

from the French Criminal Code art. 425) • The magazine cannot accept responsibility for any texts, photographs or illustrations sent to it • The publisher reserves the right to refuse any insertion that may be contrary to the moral or material interests of the publication • All trademarks cited in étapes:international are registered trademarks, as is the “étapes:international” logo.

étapes: international is published by PYRAMYD ntcv, an SAS (company limited by shares) with capital of €110,000 whose main shareholder is Michel Chanaud. R.C.S. Paris B 351996509

Magazine co-founder / former editor Patrick Morin

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l’architecture, l’art de A à Z

www.archistorm.com

archistorm

archistorm l’architecture, l’art... de A à Z

#25

MAI // JUIN //2007 BIMESTRIEL FRANCE METROPOLITAINE

4,20 EUROS

ARCHITECTURE ET MUSÉES : DÉLOCALISATION/DÉTERRITORIALISATION LE ZÉNITH DE LIMOGES PAR BERNARD TSCHUMI LE ZOO DE TN + & BECKMANN / N’THÉPÉ INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE D’ETTORE SOTTSASS AIRS DE PARIS À BEAUBOURG BERTRAND PLANES À LA GALERIE ARTCORE À PARIS

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news

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substance & style

129

time for text

Joffrey Pleignet, Nobumasa Takahashi, Emmanuel Pierrot and Corinne App, Ich & Kar

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IMAGES Mathias Schweizer, Clara Terne, Jocelyn Cottendin and Richard Louvet

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TYPOGRAPHY

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SIGNAGE

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PUBLISHING

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VISUAL IDENTITY

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TYPOGRAPHY

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PUBLISHING

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COMMUNICATION

Alexis Godefroy and Pippo Lionni

Yann Legendre

Michael Thorsby

Alexander Tibus

Loran Stosskopf

Studio Dumbar

Solange Abaziou, Antoine + Manuel, Martial Damblant, Sevan Demirdjian, CĂŠdric Gatillon, Florence Jacob, Labomatic, La Vache Noire / Alexandre Petitmangin

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POSTERS

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COMMUNICATION

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PRODUCT AND PACKAGING

M/M

Fabrice Praeger and Jeanne Huber

In this section, the caption body text is set in Slimbach by Robert Slimbach at ITC, www.itcfonts.com.

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Who's gonna drive you home, tonight? In the mid-1990s, Joffrey Pleignet toured the FrancheComtĂŠ region of eastern France, Polaroid in hand, immortalising a breed of rickety mobile discotheques. These ephemeral pieces of architecture have type that lights up with a faintly Hollywoodian allure. Now deserted and shrouded in silence, these one-night stands stud the countryside and are gradually turning into rural icons, with their air of old-fashioned festiveness. Last autumn, Pleignet's portraits were shown at Galerie Philippe Chaume. VP www.joffreypleignet.com www.galeriephilippechaume.com

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Dreamscape Nobumasa Takahashi builds up his wall illustrations with hundreds of thousands of lines. Subtle empty/full play slightly tips the balance from illegible to legible, from confused scribble to the complex drawings of a city and its stories. With his unusual habit of answering questions with poems, the Japanese visual artist explains that art must sometimes be judged by its quantity. JH www.bamboolove.com

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Bang! In his series of photos for the current season at the ThÊâtre de la Rose des Vents in Lille, France (with graphic design by Corinne App), Emmanuel Pierrot evokes how the meeting of two elements can cause our societies to shift. While leaving some latitude for interpretation, he sets violence alongside the inoffensiveness of the object or animal, and thus confers on the theatre a brutality that echoes the brutality of our everyday lives. VP www.lemondedepierrot.com

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influenza

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Making the message stick Adhesive tape is a basically inoffensive medium that exploits its wide range of applications – simple marker, all-over effect creator, and also a marker of signs, letters and lines; it can also play on what's written on it. The author of this tape, making a statement on Tibet, sent rolls to various urban artists who, each in their own way, got to grips with the object and its subject. ÉH freetibetproject.com

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Hey, good-looking... For upscale London restaurant (and art gallery) Sketch, French duo Ich & Kar created a lookbook designed to awaken the tastebuds of its prestigious clients. Helena Ichbiah artdirected the piece and assigned the typographic composition to Philippe Millot, whose publisher and client Cent Pages handled production. For the visuals, Erwan Frotin photographed gastronomic still lifes concocted by Prosper et Fortunée, following the directives of head chef Pierre Gagnaire. The book's design, while respecting convention, still exudes a highly contemporary spirit. It is presented like a large album, whose pages record the stages of the meal. In a commercially refined touch, each visual comes with the compliments of one of the restaurant's partners. The publication received the 2006 Grand Prix Stratégies Design (business-publishing category). ÉH www.sketch.uk.com

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news : TYPOGRAPHY

Swede dream Clara Terne, a 23-year-old Swede studying at the London College of Communication, developed a tendril-like, decorative and architectural typeface for an art-show poster. The face was created using freehand schemes, inspired by the steel structures of Art Nouveau. I created a dream landscape, superposing layers to give it depth. I made it explosive and full of life through its movements, while keeping it abstract. VP www.terne.se

Art department In October 2006, to coincide with the international fair for contemporary art (FIAC), said art staged an entrance at the Galeries Lafayette department store with the “Antidote” exhibition, staged in the in-store gallery. The communications for the event (poster, programme and catalogue) were created by Mathias Schweizer, who fashioned hand-made letterwork in Photoshop. The previous year, inspired by the original title “Sauf points rouges” (Except red dots), he marked out letters with little blue, white and red stickers, because the artists on display were French. For last October’s event, he wanted to give his visual a consistent rendering, though one that was ambiguous through the nature of its signs: typography, computer-generated screen, and manual linework. The poster was thus executed in one go, by hand. The press file used for its body copy the prototype, with rounded terminals, of a typeface drawn by Schweizer (below). He used the face in its final form, with square cuts, for a catalogue on Mathieu Mercier published by Éditions JRP-Ringier. ÉH www.antidote-2006.com

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Odd couples For the third year running, in 2006, Jocelyn Cottencin designed the catalogue for the summer exhibition at the château of Domaine de Chamarande. This time, together with associate Richard Louvet for their studio Lieux Communs, they combined two typefaces. The body face, called Catherine Tramell, is slightly schizophrenic, blending Garamond and Helvetica. The title face, AC/DC Outofspace – fitting the exhibition subject “Accords excentriques” (Eccentric agreements) –, is an excessive blend of lines and strains. The catalogue slowly reveals itself to be a multiple object, a concertina book presented under an enigmatic elastic sheet (which is pointless, given that each of the three booklets forms a single cover). The imagery, on glossy paper, is similar in treatment to that devised for the Centre Chorégraphique de Tours (éi: 5): an accumulation of images that are broken up, stuck back together, dedicated, and harmonised, in this case by the use of black and white. The visual game is in the manipulating of the object: opening the first booklet with the third, or the second with the third, offers as many combinations as there are visuals. VP www.lieuxcommuns.com

In the same spirit the duo, together with student Charles Mazé, created an anthropomorphic typeface for the brochure (right) of the association of national choreographic centres – thus giving the mainly text-based publication a strong identity and image.

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Vital signs In Paris, architect Hélène FricoutCassignol recently refurbished a building at Bretonneau hospital used for dental care and gerontology. The L-Design studio was tasked with designing signage to inform staff and public. Graphic designers Alexis Godefroy and Pippo Lionni structured their work around a simple principle: they only occupied a 14cm-high band 1.70m above the floor. Tight letterspacing reinforces this area’s horizontality, which is further emphasised by the disruptions (relief, changes of material) the information line encounters. Moving round the building is complicated by differences in plan between each floor, and the presence in the building of training facilities. Therefore, a colour code distinguishes the building’s three wings and the training rooms. The obviousness of the principle allows nuances in how the information is expressed, according to whether it indicates a destination, a route, and whether or not a space is open to the public. ÉH

170 mm

news : SIGNAGE

www.ldesign.fr

Close in form to Din, the chosen typeface is FTF Grotzec Head Condensed, initially designed by Mario Feliciano for the titles of a Portuguese surfing magazine. The type is set in 556 pt; Alexis Godefroy redrew the accents to better match the band effect.

ancien

nouveau

137 mm

Concept: L-design (Pippo Lionni, Alexis Godefroy). Architect: Hélène Fricout-Cassignol. Contractor: Marcal.

A simulation using sheets of A4 allowed legibility tests and warnings on the application of adhesives.

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All the pictograms were designed for the project.

hors ailes • 508 • 502

aile A • 531 • 533

aile B • 516 • 509

Places are signed in the colour corresponding to the wing they are in. An arrow points to them.

aile C • 521 • 528

formation • 514 • 515

Brackets sign the staff-only places.

The rooms are named after authors and philosophers who have written about old age.

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news : PUBLISHING

New trajectory for L’Arc From 1958 to 1986, businessman Stéphane Cordier published and ran (as a volunteer) the quarterly review L’Arc, devoted to the great thinkers, writers and artists of 20th-century modernity. Now that this period is history, Éditions Inculte, a publishing house run by Jérôme Schmidt, is reissuing L’Arc in the pocket format of its own literary and philosophical review, also called Inculte. To escort this contemporary humanism, graphic designer Yann Legendre references the Renaissance and more particularly Venetian printer Alde Manuce, who invented italics and the precursor of the pocket book. The texts are set in Tribute, a typeface by Franck Heine published by Emigre in 2003 and inspired by an antique face drawn by Frenchman François Guyot during the Renaissance. Book-loving Legendre has been mindful to create books that can be loved for their forms and feel as well as the reading pleasure they give. So that the value of the subject is present in the object that contains it, each cover is adorned by an embossed monogram printed in a metallic direct colour. These initials are marked with typefaces contemporaneous with the personality in question. In bookshops, a band simply shows the author's name, while the spine hosts a quotation. Formerly with Paris graphic-design studio Imagiers Associés, Legendre now works in the United States, where in 2006 his books were awarded a “Fifty Most Beautiful Books” accolade by the AIGA. They were exhibited in September 2006 in the “50 Books/50 Covers” show at the National Design Center in New York. Yann Legendre has since joined the Tanagram Partners studio. ÉH www.tanagram.com www.inculte.fr

Perec, old version, 17 x 22 cm, 88 pages.

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Ideas for the K.

Bookshop band.

Perec, 11 x 17 cm, 256 pages.

Joyce.


Stages in creating a monogram.

Design: back cover, spine, front cover.

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news : VISUAL IDENTITY

Ornamentality To support its recent formation and its inaugural exhibition, at the London Design Festival, Swedish furniture design collective Vujj commissioned its first-ever visual identity and communications. Jonas Nordgren, one of the co-founders (along with Artur Moustafa), called in his old friend Michael Thorsby, whom he met while studying at the Danmarks Design School in Copenhagen. Thorsby, now 27, has for the past year been freelancing in Tokyo, after training in his home country Sweden, in Denmark and at the London College of Communication. Amid the vibrant creative mood of its preparations for the exhibition, which enabled this crossdisciplinary team to train and progress together, Thorsby applied his talents to creating several communication tools including stationery, a website and exhibition signage. For its logo, Vujj wanted a monogram. Thorsby created a coat of arms / logo that reflects the diversity of the collective’s creative influences. He juxtaposed the strong, raw letters of the logo, made from basic geometric forms, and the slender, decorative linework of the ‘coat of arms’. Stemming from the serifs is ornamental vegetation that interwines with the four letters and which, from curve to curve, breathes life into the monogram; it is both buried in, and master of, its ornaments. Generally speaking I’m not a fan of ornaments, especially in flat graphics. But I wanted to see how I could add something new to them. Thorsby’s designs reflect his determination to embrace all styles, while applying his rigour and plastic intelligence. Travelling a lot has protected my visual language from any specific national features. I don’t want to be part of a vernacular style – something you could clearly see in Sweden, for instance. JH www.pmkfa.com www.vujj.se

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Design for Vujj's inaugural exhibition at the London Design Festival. Production: Assistant Co. Ltd., Megumi Matsubara and Hiroi Ariyama. “Walldrawing” by Michael Thorsby for Vujj's store in Malmö, Sweden.

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news : TYPOGRAPHY

300

700

1000

500

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– 200

1 1. Wirefox-up and wirefox-down are built on grids of ascending and descending diagonals, respectively. 2. The faces can be combined (the screens can be linked automatically by typing on a keyboard) to create a wide range of graphic and optical games. 3. Alexander Tibus later developed a modular face, wirefoxplus, comprising construction elements which thus increased the decorative potential. It can be used as an extension of the other two faces, or by itself to create self-contained graphic structures.

2

Diagonal thinking The idea for the Wirefox typeface was hatched during the designing of a flyer. Alexander Tibus then made the most of his graduate project at the Fachhochschule fĂźr Technik und Wirtschaft in Berlin to finalise his research. He then developed this atypical, versatile alphabet with its diagonal screens. It is special in that it can be read from a long way off despite the decorative density of its ground, and is particularly good for short texts. Tibus has gone on to explore and devise various applications: from strict decoration on fabric to the complex function of information graphics on airport runways. The face is sold on the Die Gestalten Verlag website. JH www.alexandertibus.de www.die-gestalten.de/fonts

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4 4. Here, Tibus tried wirefox on a light panel, using the LED screen as a construction grid.

5. Blending function and decoration, the designer envisioned adapting wirefox for the visual identity of a service station – from tanker livery to price display panels.

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6. The face seems best suited to a purely functional use in an airport context. Here, the screen serves as a demarcation area: the repeated diagonals attract the attention and the letters, visible from a distance, adapt to the location’s requirements.

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news : PUBLISHING

Style guide For the past 10 years, Wallpaper has made its name as an expert in contemporary design and decorative arts. Backed by this reputation and a global network of contacts, the magazine has teamed up with Phaidon to produce a series of city guides. The publisher applies its exacting editorial requirements coupled with a desire for mass circulation, while the magazine provides expertise in good taste and design. Featuring 24-hour city tours, modern architecture and mustsee locations, design shopping and more, the world’s metropolises are illuminated anew in an emphatically hip way, far from the well-trodden tourist-guide tracks. Some 140 titles are planned, with a series of 20 due every six months; each book, updated every two years, will sell at a nice price (£4.95). French translations are due out in April 2007. The books’ design is by Loran Stosskopf, who three years ago redesigned Wallpaper. A graduate of Ensad in Paris and formerly with Atelier de Création Graphique, he has also worked with Pentagram alongside Fernando Gutierrez. He takes great care to give the objects a suitable form. The covers are quietly coloured (flat blocks of direct colour, in two passes) and exude a certain vibrancy when the series is viewed together. The layout is simple, the visuals well presented. An interior with plenty of discreet features, such as tabs and pagemarker-style flaps, help these books cut a classic dash. ÉH www.wallpaper.com www.phaidon.com/travel Typefaces: Amplitude (Christian Schwarz) and Charter (Matthew Carter).

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Taking Stockholm Martin Frostner set up his studio in Stockholm after graduating from the Konstfack in 2002. His clients are in culture and business, and on some projects he collaborates with other designers or artists. In his work on Sthlm at Large, an enquiry into Stockholm’s future and its residents’ living conditions, the designer took a problem-solving approach, drawing inspiration from the functional and formal aspects of tourist guides. He used and enhanced the inescapable, oft-ignored constraints of the barcode and ISBN code, which became central elements in his composition. For the Modern Mantra catalogue, which presents a series of illustrations by the artist Thomas Broomé, Frostner sought a balance between informal elements, graphic design, and authorial work. In a deliberate move to erase the graphic designer, the catalogue was packaged by the artist’s work. However, Frostner still added his design value by creating a typeface inspired by the linear linework of the drawings. JH www.martinfrostner.se

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news : COMMUNICATION

1

Change of tune Amsterdam Sinfonietta was an independent orchestra with young musicians but a dusty image before Studio Dumbar revisited its identity and communications. For inspiration, the Dutch studio didn’t need to look far. The forms and rhythms that describe the music in a score were led astray from their primary function by Oliver Helfrich and recast in a typographic identity. This makes it possible to give documents structure and tempo, especially when treating long texts in concert programmes. Besides this graphic design, the posters become freer and more plastic interpretations of the shows and music they advertise. The studio, founded in 1977 by Gert Dumbar (who has since stepped down), produces work in a post-modern vein. It owes its reputation to large-scale executions that combine strong, exuberant plastic expression with highly controlled principles of identity and organisation. Its best-known creations include both posters – iconoclastic ones on Mondrian, superb virtuoso efforts for the Holland Dance Festival – and huge identity programmes for the Dutch police force and post office. An exhibition of the studio’s work was shown last winter at the Mois du Graphisme event in Échirolles, France, organised and curated by Alain Le Quernec. ÉH

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Studio Dumbar: CD: Michel de Boer; designer: Oliver Helfrich. www.studiodumbar.nl www.sinfonietta.nl

1. Origin of the concept: deconstruction of a score, use of the forms of a stave to compose a document. 2. Programmes. 3. Logo. 4. Concert posters. 5. Subscription documentation.

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news : POSTERS

MartialDamblant.

FlorenceJacob. SolangeAbaziou.

Enter, page left Continuity, clean breaks, evolution‌ Season posters set the tone for the 2006-2007 programming in France’s theatres. Here are some of the players.

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SevanDemirdjian.


CĂŠdricGatillon. Lavachenoire/AlexandrePetitmangin.

Antoine+Manuel. Labomatic.

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news : COMMUNICATION

Vitra by M/M (Paris) In this issue’s article on the corporate communication of Vitra, FSB and Moormann (see p. 73), the image taken from the catalogue designed by 2x4 had been produced previously by M/M (Paris). After Tibor Kalman died in 1999, Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustyniak worked with Vitra, primarily in 2002 when the company reissued the furniture designed by Jean Prouvé. For the occasion, the duo created a double-sided poster (April 2002), staging themselves in front of Vitra furniture boxes. M/M (Paris) also did various press ads and small posters (above right, June 2002). Besides the visuals, their collaboration with Vitra and its director Rolf Felhbaum included consultancy work and ideas, particularly the one of a table that brought together the chairs made by the company. These various creative leads were only executed later, once the studio and manufacturer had stopped their relationship. ÉH www.vitra.com www.mmparis.com

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PRODUCT AND PACKAGING : news

Unassuming A scribble by way of a sign, a name in Helvetica-by-default topped with the TM mark: Manifeste’s logo feels nothing like a piece of graphic design and everything like a non-brand. Yet the name and sign owe nothing to chance: they were invented by Fabrice Praeger to fit Alexandre Daval’s venture. A former marketer, Daval started his own business with the ambition of offering products that meet essential needs and are designed by real creators mindful of the social and natural environments. Clothing, cosmetics, food... no product area is off-limits, but Daval did not want to see his values turned into a sales pitch. His encounter with Fabrice Praeger gave rise to a singular identity that conveys all its meaning and quality with each application. In keeping with his manof-ideas stance, the graphic designer has worked on the packaging of the first objects intended for newborns: a birth pack and a cuddly toy. For each item, he seeks to strike just the right tone: discretion offset by an apt note of fantasy. ÉH

2 3

www.manifeste-tm.com

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1. Point-of-sale hanger support: 3D and concept design, Jeanne Huber; graphic design and art direction, Fabrice Praeger.

2. Pack: graphic design and concept, Fabrice Praeger; 3D design, Jeanne Huber. 3. Comforter: graphic design and art direction, Fabrice Praeger; packaging design, Jeanne Huber; clothing styling and comforter, Pauline Vinçon and Constance Allain.

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A QUATERLY DVD MAGAZINE FEATURING CUTTING-EDGE WORKS FROM THE FOREFRONT OF THE MOTION DESIGN SCENE.

www.designflux.com YES, I SUBSCRIBE to designFLUX for 81€ [4 DVDs] from issue 02 to issue 06

Post this form to: Pyramyd, 15 rue de Turbigo, 75002 Paris, France


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substance & style

129

time for text

5.5 Designers extends the life of discarded objects in a mercy mission that redefines our attitude towards them.

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OBJECTS, CONTD.

The tale of how a maverick Rhode Island sticker artist, Shepard Fairey rose to fame with his “Obey Giant” campaign.

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BUSINESS AND BANDITRY

At the 2006 Venice Biennale architecture show, Patrick Bouchain created a French pavilion that shed new light on the discipline.

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PALACE OCCUPATION

Since 1990, this Lisbon-based collective has placed Portugal’s vernacular and typographic heritage centre-stage.

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BARBARA SAYS, CHAMPIONS OF PORTUGUESE GRAPHIC DESIGN

A look at how three Germanic furniture-manufacturers leverage editorial design to convey their corporate culture.

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DESIGN AND NATIONAL IDENTITIES

From its pre-war launch until the 1960s, America’s business bible was a unique visual laboratory within Time Inc.

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“FORTUNE”, A STORY OF ART AND MONEY

As trad advertising struggles to stay effective, a new street-based marketing technique is turning heads – and raising eyebrows.

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GUERRILLA MARKETING: AD PIRATES AHOY!

In the ‘60s, British firm Letraset revolutionised typography with its decal faces, which reigned until the computer-centric age.

101

SKILLS TRANSFER

A taster of the end-of-course work produced by last year’s graduates from French art and communication schools.

108

2006 DESIGN GRADUATES In this section, the titles and standfirsts are set in André Baldinger’s Newut Classic (www.ambplus.com) and the body text is in Spectro by Andrea Tinnes (www.typecuts.com).

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Lefttoright:Jean-SĂŠbastienBlanc,AnthonyLebossĂŠ,Vincent BarangerandClaireRenard.


Objects,contd.

5.5Designers isonanexacting,tenaciousmission

tostretchtheexistenceoffurniture,andinjustthree yearshasconqueredtheworldofproductdesign. éi: looksbackonthedazzlingriseofthis zeitgeist-aware agency. bySylvieLambert

What's the point of creating yet another object? Must a new product differ radically from the others? And, in a wider sense, what's design for? How can you come up with a definitive reply for the discipline, just to have a clean conscience, once and for all? These are vague and general questions, to be sure, but there's no getting round them if you were born in 1980 or 1981, if you care ever so slightly about the environment, or if – being talented and mad about popular culture, brocantes, car-boot sales and other species of flea market – you're a recent graduate from the productdesign section of École Olivier-de-Serres (a.k.a. the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d'Art, or Ensaama). You can draw a telephone, a pen, a cafetière or a tramway with your eyes shut – yes, of course you can. So? Is the world destined to end up as a hip piece of styling, slender and sparkling – as the handsome look or contemporary de luxe aesthetic that plenty of people feel is magnificently embodied by design? Being a designer today is, then, a tough and most definitely abstruse business. But what matter. The tale of these hipmongers is truly simple, relevant, natural and impertinent in equal measure. Let me explain. In August 2003, Vincent Baranger, Anthony Lebossé, Jean-Sébastien Blanc, Claire Renard, David Lebreton and Élise Hauville, fresh out of Ensaama, decided, before going their separate summer ways, to work on a joint project one last time. Their idea? Give a helping hand and some TLC to cast-off objects by creating... a hospital for these sick, elderly, worn-out, abandoned objects, which were otherwise headed for the scrapheap or recycling. The gist being to take charge of the destiny of these neglected objects, shamelessly discarded by their owners, and which charities pick up off street corners and sometimes even from people's homes. Cue Réanim, an adventure closely connected to sustainable development, or, more exactly, to “objects’ built-in durability”. In short, an enterprise with a strong zeitgeisty flavour (Martin Margiela and Johnson Hartig & Cindy Greene were already doing something similar in fashion). But the idea behind the scheme isn't to make new from old, but to extend the life of objects that have been decreed unfit and useless; and, in so doing, to alter the glazed, lifeless way we all look at the items in our everyday lives that have become invisible and yet speak more eloquently about us than we do ourselves.

To work and operate, they soon rallied round a name: 5,5 Designers, because one of the members would be half-time – and as there would only be 5,5 designers at work, the title would factually and ethically respect each person's working time. Later, because of logo readability/visibility issues, the comma turned into a dot – a mutation which in no way betrayed the initial idea, as the dot between two figures is the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the French comma. Then everything clicked. Réanim’s success was like a magic potion in the design world: they published Sauvez les meubles with Éditions Jean-Michel Place (2003), staged their “Objets ordinaires” intervention at Puces du Design, a second-hand designer goods fair (2004); did the display design for the opening of leading-edge department store Lafayette VO (2004); the “Ouvrier-designers” project with porcelain-maker Bernardaud (2005); two exhibition designs for the Observeur du Design/APCI event (2004 and 2005); and “Tête à tête” at the Pompidou Centre (2006). To handle these commissions and specifications, the designers set up an agency with limited-company status, in which each member, freed from accounting duties (these were outsourced), could take turns managing projects. And most of all, in their three-year existence, 5.5 Designers (who are now only 4) have remained absolutely faithful in their commitment to objects. To them, everything is a game that throws up questions and answers – so that no new object is ever created by chance, fed by surplus ego and lust for luxury. The challenge is to help objects prolong their life and story. Light years from the eco-play of Sunday DIY dabblers, 5.5 Designers have asserted their identity as true designers, citizens and poets in equal measure, totally and utterly attuned to their era and its mood. Set alongside the glitzy design in magazines, their statements offer glimpses of how the activity of today’s designers is evolving hugely, in sync with society and business: they are tending to become the conductor of the manufacturing orchestra; an attentive observer of production modes and tools, which is leading them to enhance the potential of output that is based on what already exists. Over in their agency – or, rather, their design consultation and research firm – on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis in Paris, 5.5 Designers say they’re keen to stay popular: Our engine is making people more aware of what’s around them. We’ll have won when our bandage kits or coats of arms are on the shelves of [French DIY chain] Leroy Merlin. 39

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Réanim Talking about the Réanim project, staged by 5.5 Designers and based on items collected at Galerie Salamandre in Nîmes in 2003 – an operation repeated at the Paris Furniture Show in 2004 – necessarily means discussing objects’ in-built obsolescence and entropy; and, more generally, consumer society’s process of usage and wastage, which squeezes and absorbs us. But it also prompts the observation that youthism doesn’t only affect man on earth, and that the ferocious, mind-bending need for new forms has spread to everything that affects humans and moves around them. But while interest in old objects in all their forms – both rejects and relics – is not new, the output has always been confined to one-offs or artist’s trials. What interested 5.5 Designers, by contrast, was to tackle mass and series – in a nutshell, to operate in an industrial-design framework. To obtain large quantities to work with, they teamed up with French charity Secours Populaire to reclaim a host of objects in situ. Formica stools and Louis XV-style armchairs, but also broken chairs, ladders and public benches, found themselves stored in a ‘waiting room’ before going through to the ’consultation’ area, where they were examined in detail. Once the protocol was drawn up, the operation was performed ‘in theatre’. The objective was to not erase the object’s history (bumps, breakages...) or focus on its previous appearance,

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but to give it back its function. The idea was, in short, to endow the patient with a new identity via a remarkable repair, easily identifiable from its garish colour code: fluorescent green bandages, a colour that refers directly to the flashing-cross sign outside French pharmacies, to city rubbish bins, to our concept of ecology. It also slots Réanim into a global movement that isn’t restricted to the operation of one particular piece. This English-lawn green has now become the hallmark of 5.5 Designers; it’s the colour of their logo. Incidentally, the project abounds with medical metaphors: it’s a deliberate ploy to make their agenda more intelligible and empathetic. Faced with the popularity generated by their hospital, 5.5 Designers continued its medical adventure with “Objets ordinaires” at the Puces du Design event in 2004: a project to rehabilitate 12 mass-consumer objects which represented the essence of design but which over time had become ill, groggy with insignificance and anonymity. Thus did the team restore to these objects (a multi-socket plug, a cup, a coathanger, a lemon squeezer and some Duralex glasses) their worthy function and noble identity, courtesy of some savvy little additions (a handle made of sugar) or slight subversions (a silicone holder), and for an affordable price (¤1-¤145).


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What5.5Designersdidwasneitherrestoration(returningtheobjecttoitsoriginalstate)norrepair(extendingitslife),andcertainlynotsubversion (aplayfulorseriouschangeoffunction);itwasrehabilitation.Thevariouspieces-“Tabouretsenbloc”,“Fauteu.”,“17pointsdesuture”,“Tapis roulant“,“Chaise”,“Echaise”etal-receivedcareasdefinedbyamedical-typeprotocol.Alterationandwearcanbecomecreativematerials…

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5.5Designersweregivencarteblanche here,andtheyworkedmoreasstylists. Eachpiece,orsketch,wasuniqueand featuredthecollective’sconcept,i.e. thepurposeofreclamation.

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LafayetteVO Given the ethical and super-poetical appeal of their previous projects, one wonders why a fresh youthful agency like 5.5 Designers would hold hands with Galeries Lafayette, that (department-store) temple of mass consumption. Most certainly the joy and buzz they got from rising to the challenge of two carte-blanche invitations (for the openings of homewares store Lafayette Maison and of Lafayette VO, an urban-fashion store geared to 15- to 25-year-olds), as well as the cheerily ambitious idea of blowing a raspberry at the major clothing brands (Nike, Diesel, etc.). Although the result owed more to the one-off than to an industrial-design process, it was convincing and cheeky – like the visual sketch with the stacked chairs, devised for the “Blue” area (home to jeans, a series-produced item), or the arresting association of a building-site barrier and a château table, all covered in white paint (a brainchild halfway between street and domestic furniture, for the “Urban” area). Fifty narrative pieces in total, dripping with humour and irony; each tells a story that echoes the location and various spaces, and creates tension between them. It is a feat of conception and execution (all the pieces were made in two-and-a-half months) and of obvious credibility, rewarded by Lafayette VO’s prototyping of the Réanim bandages.

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“Objetsordinaires�forthePucesdu Designeventin2004:theobjects aroundusareseriouslyill,suffering fromindifferenceandbanality.By gentlytweakingthem(sugarhandle, avarietyofstems),theycanbe broughtbacktolife.

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Ouvriers-designersforBernardaud Spotted in 2005 by the Fondation Bernardaud, 5.5 Designers were enlisted to give the big manufacturer’s image some vava-voom prior to the next biennial of contemporary ceramic art in Châteauroux. Their mission, titled “Ouvriers-designers” (worker-designers), was actually to develop new objects. After a thorough induction in the factories, soaking up all the production gestures and processes, 5.5 Designers quickly realised there was no way they could rival the excellence of these workers, who each have at least 15 years’ experience. So they decided to intervene directly in the production process, on the production site. To innovate, you need to design your design, they like saying. They then involved the workers in a creative scenario, via a protocol that specified error, imperfection and inversion – basically, everything that was normally forbidden. With for example the salad bowls (sizes 3 and 6), sauceboats (bandings 1 and 8), cream jugs (castings 1, 2, 3 and 4) and cups (loose-applied decorations 2, 6, 7, 9 and 12), 5.5 Designers rendered fully intelligible and artistically relevant the gestures of these workers – who, with mechanisation, had over the years become anonymous and disinterested. Gestural language was liberated to create a novel formal vocabulary: here, a handle fitted the wrong way up; there, a floral decoration hand-painted on the bottom of a sauceboat, or a salad bowl with an unlikely rim. This was a beautiful experiment at the human and industrial levels: a search for a balance between artisanal, manual savoirfaire and industrial process, and between one-off and series, that really rattled traditionalists’ cages. Note that there are midterm plans to show these pieces at the Droog Design gallery in Amsterdam – proof that an ambitious niche project can be brought off, even in an industrial environment.

Hand-painteddecorationinsertedinthefolds,asaladbowl mouldedwithitsownoffcuts,ahandlefittedupsidedown… 5.5'sintervention,basedonthegesturesoftheBernardaud factoryworkers,deliberatelyavoidedanyaesthetic considerations.Insteadtheyusedamethodologythat enabledaliberationofgesturesthatcouldgeneratepieces inseries.

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Habitamorphoses forMéresse In a similar vein, 5.5 Designers have completed a tableware collection for glassmakers Arc/Salviati. For Méresse, the French leader in tourist badges (and as part of “Habitamorphoses”, an event staged by the French lace and embroidery industry federation), 5.5 Designers recently designed a set of badges that rethink and care for the home. After their factory project, the agency’s idea here was to transpose roles and functions: black badges were designed in line with their codes, both functional (identifying, informing, plugging holes) and graphic (respecting the typographic hierarchy), then given visual sketches that were both symbolic and offbeat, blending Egyptian and craftjourneyman styles. This new type of badge can protect and “care for” switches, door handles and other fixtures that sustain daily wear and tear. This highly accomplished collection was self-produced and so will soon be available to buy.

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Observeurdudesign In what sense is the work of an exhibition designer akin to that of a product designer? Certainly the way that both take a critical look, through a mise en scène, at the objects of everyday life. This was the case at the Observeur du Design event in 2005 and 2006, staged for the industrial design promotion agency (APCI) at the Cité des Sciences at La Villette, Paris: a decor was twice put in place by 5.5 Designers so that a story could come alive and be told before the visitors’ eyes. In 2005, 15 standard types of housing were staged, together with the prize-winning objects, and with binoculars available to observe and review; the following year, in 2006, the site of an archaeological dig projected into the future was installed – with the previous exhibition’s decor, recycled for the occasion. So: two apt ways of putting objects (back) in an ecological-economic context and testing their raison d’être.

2006ObserveurduDesign:thestagingof195designprojects(products,packaging...) spreadoveragriddedspacethatcalledtomindthemark-outofanarchaeological dig.Theeyeturnscriticalandobjective,asthevisitorbecomesthearchaeologistof his/herownage.

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Theinitialintentionwasforthechildrentowritethe exhibition'scaptioncards.Intheend,theyweredoneby graphicdesignerYvesGeleyn,calledinby5.5.

Têteàtête Though a great success, “Tête à tête”, an exhibition for children aged five to 12 at the Pompidou Centre (in 2006) was 5.5 Designers’ most awkward job. Coming on-board at a late stage, they grappled with administrative red tape, multiple contacts, reticence in all quarters (particularly to do with using a decor of reclaimed materials and manipulating the grammar of exhibition artwork), making this an adventure with heavy constraints. But in the end, the interactive itinerary proved suited to the young audience: the graphics of the caption cards and the signage were hand-written; and on a giant mural, visitors could interact, experiment and exhibit their own stuff. Every figure and movement aimed to solicit a fun, unexpected dialogue (the furniture was raised and gutted to create head/legs confusion) between the Louvre exhibits and those of the Pompidou Centre, on the theme of heads and faces.

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Businessandbanditry In1989,thesinisterfaceofawrestler appearedinthestreetsofRhodeIsland, America.Hitchedtothewatchwords“Obey Giant”,theface'sfamewouldspurthatof itsauthor,ShepardFairey,ashebeat apaththroughthelandofsurfculture, artgalleriesandcommercial commissionsbyVéroniqueVienne You have to see them from a distance. Shepard Fairey’s posters only make sense when part of an urban landscape. Never snap them in close-up. If, by chance, you come across one when out walking, don’t use your zoom. The poster functions within a precise frame. Its purpose is to mark a territory, to punctuate it. All Fairey’s work could be explained by Mallarmé’s line, Rien n’aura eu lieu que le lieu, nothing took place but the place. Even when his posters are shown in galleries or reproduced in books or magazines, they seem nostalgic for the walls, posts, fences and pipes that are supposed to be their supports. You get the impression that, rather than staying dry indoors, they’d be better outside, exposed to bad weather, acquiring a patina. To fully appreciate the value and flavour of Shepard Fairey’s graphic output, a recce is required, nose in air. To make sure you don’t get too close to his posters, Fairey puts them in inaccessible places: at the top of scaffolding, on silos, on advertising hoardings, on bridge pillars, on top of water towers, on factory chimneys, above unloading areas, or on the roofs of disused warehouses. He’s fond of abandoned brownbelt sites, poorly-lit streets, out-of-the-way spots, and abandoned housing blocks. His posters and stickers are more rarely seen in residential neighbourhoods. To discover them in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Tokyo or Paris, you need to venture off the tourist tracks.

Gostickit Easily spotted, because of their style but also thanks to the “Obey” logo that serves as a signature, Shepard Fairey’s posters have all been plastered in precarious, even perilous circumstances: not only are their locations hard to reach, their presence constitutes an act of vandalism which could lead to prison. Their imagery, it has to be said, is hardly reassuring: the visual vocabulary is that of posters of revolutionary propaganda - from the USSR, China, Cuba, by communists, fascists, punks or Black Panthers – reinterpreted with Warhol-style flat colour blocks in a sombre palette, dominated by red and black. But what doubtless prompts the police to take Fairey for a gang leader is the central motif featured in every one of his posters: the mask of a man with a menacing expression.


And yet there’s nothing more inoffensive than André Roussimoff, a French wrestler weighing upwards of 240 kilos, whose photo Fairey snipped out of a newspaper, quite by chance, to show a friend how to make a screenprint stencil. However, the clumsy, rudimentary image, once transposed onto a T-shirt, attracted takers among the skaters who frequented the sports-gear store where Fairey worked for extra cash when studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. To poke fun at this excessive enthusiasm for a character whose swarthy mug was anything but cool, Fairey added a slogan, “André the Giant Has a Posse”, suggesting the wrestler was some kind of underground star. It didn’t work. In the skating community, the mystery surrounding André’s portrait took on mythical proportions. Fairey caught the bug: he turned the giant’s effigy into a graphic symbol and, from 1989 to 1993, disseminated it on stickers which he gave to his buddies and expanding fan club, who applied it to every surface imaginable, starting with their skateboards. The stickers were so successful that Fairey created stencils and identical posters to plaster on walls wherever he fancied. There were articles in local newspapers. Soon the phenomenon had spread into every milieu, including hip-hop. Punks thought André was a rocker; some, that he was the leader of a subversive cult; while others assumed he was the spokesman for a new brand of sportswear.

ObeyrulesOK When André Roussimoff died in 1993, the title “André the Giant” was the subject of a copyright dispute. To avoid any hassle, Fairey dropped it and replaced it with the word Obey, an idea he had after seeing the John Carpenter film Invasion Los Angeles, in which extraterrestrials take control of the population using subliminal messages, primarily “Obey”, which is displayed all over the city. In a contradictory spirit, Obey was supposed to foster disobedience: the wrestler figure was now urging indiscipline. In a 1990 manifesto, Fairey compared this transformation to a phenomenological experiment. Quoting Heidegger, he described phenomenology as the process by which things manifest themselves. He therefore felt no responsibility for how his fans appropriated André’s effigy, nor bothered about how they interpreted it. He decided to focus on putting up the posters, and the challenge of getting images into inaccessible places. For street artists, graffers, sprayers and taggers, exhibiting work as high up as possible, out of the cleaning squads’ reach, is the dog’s bollocks. Knowing how to choose your spot and thus mark your territory is the sign of a virtuoso. For Fairey, as long as the authorities deem his guerrilla postering a criminal offence against private property, the authenticity of his work is assured. Caught red-handed several times, glue-pot in hand, he boasts about paying big fines and spending nights in jail. Today, he has kept his covertartist status and is always looking for new locations – in cities but also along highways, near superstores, and any site which suits the purpose, be it in China, Australia, Germany or South Africa. Though he subscribes to the land-art movement – like the work of Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude, or of Scottish artist Andy Goldsworthy – Shepard Fairey has a one-of-akind approach. His works, as with in-situ art, are ephemeral and fitted in precise places, but his preferred > contd. p. 56


ShepardFairey’sno-frills,easy-onstickerswerean immediatehitwithskaters.Hispostersandstencils– lessconvenienttotransportandapply–camemuchlater. Hisposters,fakepalimpsests,seemtocoverothersemierasedortornposters. Left:“ObeyMao”,2002,printonpaper. Below:“Bureauofpublicworks”,2004,printonpaper.

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Thoughheborrowsthevocabularyofpropaganda,Fairey’sworkscarrynopolitical message. Above,toptobottom:“LeninSteel”,one-offpiece,2006;and“Muslimwoman”, one-offpiece,2006,courtesyGalerieMagdaDanysz.

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Left:“ObeyChomsky”,one-offpiece,2006,courtesyGalerie MagdaDanysz.Centre:“ObeyRollins”,2003,printonpaper. Right:“GiantJesse”,1998,printonpaper.

Left:“FlowerSoldier”,one-offpiece,2006,courtesyGalerie MagdaDanysz.Right:“HighTime”,one-offpiece,2006, courtesyGalerieMagdaDanysz.

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material is not wood, soil, stone, sand, nor even paint, ink or paper; it’s irony. The spots he chooses to stick his pieces are special in their strange resemblance to those chosen by the surveillance cameras that have multiplied in recent years. Shepard Fairey’s perches are like Big Brother’s: observation posts – discreet ones, for sure – from where you can see without being seen! That’s the big difference between spying and surveillance. Surveilling means not only standing watch but making it known you’re there, that you’re already in situ. That’s why the effigies of André – be they stickers, stencils or posters – are subversive: discovering them gives the impression of being discovered yourself. This masked face has the power to unmask its observer.

Ambiguity Fairey’s intention is indeed to unmask propaganda systems. Graphically, he enjoys reassigning all the symbols of authority. In particular, he performs surgery on the visual grammar of banknotes, police badges, official stamps, military decorations, passports, and farming-show medals. He condemns consumer society but exploits it too. To fund his trips and poster print-runs, he has created a series of hip-hop products: T-shirts, patches, pin badges, skateboards, guitars, good-luck charms and even notepads, all under the Obey brand, whose logo – the André mask inside a star – has now been enhanced by a new slogan, “manufacturing quality dissent since 1989”. Another nod is a monograph on his work, recently published in California by Gingko Press, entitled Supply & Demand: the Art of Shepard Fairey, a reference to the theory that underpins economic liberalism. You might think that Fairey’s ironic mode of communication is laced with cynicism. Based in Los Angeles, he runs a small ad agency, Studio Number One, which attracts clients like Adidas, Toyota, Honda and Virgin Megastore, for whom he creates ad campaigns, logos and posters. By offering his services to the big brands, is he actually obeying the forces he denounces elsewhere? You judge. Shepard Fairey is too busy to justify himself. He’s got to find locations for his next poster. The one you’ll be discovering soon. All images from Galerie Magda Danysz (www.magda-gallery.com) and the book Supply & Demand: the Art of Shepard Fairey, Gingko Press, 2006.


“Tradingmyartdoesn’tbotherme,becausetheworkIdointhestreetismyonlyreference,thething thatgivesmeaningtomywholeœuvre,”explainsFairey.

Above,toptobottom:“ThePaperCampaign”,1999,“SavetheArcticRefuge”,1999, “OperationDemocracy”,2005. Aboveright:“TheFlamingLipsNewYear'sEve”,2003,printonpaper;andVirgin logos,2006. Right,inorder:“ObeySkateboardsArrowIcon”,2000,“ObeySkateboards BouncingSouls”,2004,“ObeySkateboardsFactory“,2003,“ObeySkateboards Stencil”,2000,printedonskateboards.

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Palaceoccupation

PatrickBouchain wasassignedto 300 metres long… It aimed to evoke urban experience through the study of 16 cities on designFrance'spavilionatlast four continents, via satellite images, aerial photographs, comparisons of social, economic autumn'sVeniceBiennale and human data, placing geographical locain perspective, etc. The exhibition sought architectureexhibition. tions to capture the complexity and diversity of the cities’ spatial configurations and evolutions. Theresultjoyfully demonstrated This riot of resources produced nothing but a sort of coffee book full of very (too?) slick anotherway ofthinkingabout, images… Further proof: the great majority of the buildingandshowingarchitecture national representations of the 49 countries byMarieBruneauandBertrandGenier

The word exhibition usually calls to mind situations where visitors encounter objects: the archetype of this is the museum, which lets you see, contemplate and ‘be in contact with’ the works. In a different register, this model is also used for trade exhibitions that bring together items for sale and potential buyers… But when the object being exhibited is architecture, how – and with what means – can the exhibition let you access and scrutinise the work? This problem is not new, of course – a number of museums and architecture centres, such as the one run by our friends at Arc en Rêve in Bordeaux, have been exploring it for years – but the 10th International Architecture Exhibition, part of the Venice Biennale, scopes the genre well. By way of proof: the exhibition “Cities, architecture and society”, devised by Richard Burdett (the design was by Aldo Cibic and Luigi Marchetti, with art direction and graphic design by Fragile) and staged at the Corderie dell’Arsenale, an amazing building more than

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at the Venice Biennale, whether in the pavilions of the Giardini or in the shows scattered around the city. Here too were square metres (kilometres?) of images and texts (a big hand for digital printing!), often fairly well laidout incidentally, but which, when placed end to end, ultimately wore out even the keenest of visitors … There’s lots of graphic design here… Laurence Madrelle told us when we bumped into her in an aisle. Graphic design? Yes, but what for? Did anyone try to apprehend the mass of documents put on show? Or even just calculate how much time it would take for a visitor to read, look at and assimilate everything? A week? A month? A year? In Venice, the initial and slightly ragtag theme of this 10th Biennale (MetaVilla) further reinforced this estrangement from the architectural object. As a result, you move from the issue of presenting works to the implementation of documentary exhibitions which do little more than depict one more version of the state of the world… They showed photographs of architecture, maps, diagrams, videos, etc. And, paradoxically, they didn’t show – with a few rare exceptions – any architecture, which, for an architecture biennial, rather takes the biscuit.


photo :CyrilleWeiner

1.Nomodels,photographs,plansor cross-sections:theFrenchpavilion attheVeniceBiennalewasaplacefor livingandofferinghospitality,where peopleslept,ateanddidthedishes… whiletalkingaboutarchitecture(too)!

Building For this article, we should perhaps have attempted a comparative study of the Americans’ efficiency (and their pragmatism in responding to the consequences of Hurricane Katrina), the originality of the Chinese, the poetry of Terunobu Fujimori’s work in the Japanese pavilion, or indeed the great dignity of the Venezuelans… not to mention adding two or three choice anecdotes about the overwhelming “city of cities”. But the French pavilion is what we’re going to talk about, because, in a sense, there’s no graphic design to be seen! I detest graphic designers, proclaimed Patrick Bouchain with an ironic smile. He’s the architect the ministry of foreign affairs chose to represent France at this Biennale. In this specific case he was right to, and the French pavilion scored a strong success… Imagine a faintly old-fashioned building with a rotunda entrance – in the purest neo-classical style – and marble ionic columns. On the pediment: FRANCIA. From below it emerged three large cylinders covered in taut striped canvas, and a scaffolding structure that formed a walkway, a steep staircase and a belvedere high in the sky. 59

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Inside the pavilion was a whole base for working and living, with a bar, a big kitchen, a cook with an odd hat, and a dining table to seat 30 or more. On the left, a ‘hotel’ with 14 canvas-covered rooms containing double futons… At the back, a studio and graphic designers’ usual clutter: computers, printers, tape-cutting machine, and even a thermal press for transferring images onto T-shirts. Upstairs, a sauna, a shower and a small pool for having a dip… Even higher up, a dizzying tower from which to discover the lagoon… And a whole band of young people in yellow T-shirts bustling around at all levels: the members of the Exyzt collective, which Patrick Bouchain had enlisted in the adventure to conceive, build and live in this ephemeral housing unit.

Architects,etc.

2.20tonsofscaffolding:theraw materialforthehugemeccano-likeset usedtofitoutthepavilion'sinterior andbuildthetowerthatpassed throughitsroof.

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Founded in 2003 by five architecture students from Strasbourg, Exyzt is a collective that varies in size (from five to 35 people) and has already racked up a fair number of executions in Paris, Roubaix, Berlin, Barcelona and now in Venice (http://exyzt.org). Depending on the project, Exyzt mobilises some or all of its members and develops new ties, thus forming a community of action, a framework for living and exchanging: graphic designers, DJs, architects, a structural carpenter, a landscapist, a cook, a photographer, a scriptwriter, etc., together conceive, execute and live in

©DagmarDunsky ©DagmarDunsky

©JulieGuiches / Picturetank

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3,4&5.Motifsandgraphicdesignscreatedbythemembers oftheExyztcollectiveandtransferredontoT-shirts. 6.Frenchpavilion.

ephemeral installations. Generally built from prefabricated materials (scaffolding, containers, tarpaulins, nets, boxes, etc.), the installations are transformed in line with planned or improvised applications, thus generating structures with a hybrid aesthetic. We work on the relationship between the city, architecture and its users, they explain. We explore various supports and media – graphic design, photography, video, music, live arts... The idea is to create ties between certain emerging urban practices and to show their social, economic and political dimension in a fun way. One special trait of Exyzt’s members is that they live all of the time in the ephemeral structures they build. The founders are: Nicolas Henninger, François Wunschel, Pier Schneider, Philippe Rizzotti, Gilles Burban, who are architects and graphic designers. At Patrick Bouchain’s invitation, the members of Exyzt developed in Venice a liveable structure which, being both inside and above the French pavilion, was technically fairly complex to execute. Yet they managed to complete it in just a fortnight – proof that it’s possible to devise and build other forms of architecture, especially in emergency situations.

Guestartists For this singular venture, Patrick Bouchain also invited along some of his regular travelling companions. Daniel Buren exploded the pavilion’s neo-classical >>> contd. p. 64


ŠCyrilleWeiner

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7.DanielBuren wasinvitedto interveneonthe pavilionfacade: hecreatedthree largewheels dressedinstripy fabricandhung frompulleys betweenthe columns…thus revitalisingthe building’shighly classicalfacade. 8.“Architecture ispolitical.It mustcaterfor thegeneral interest,”says PatrickBouchain. Tosetoutthe parametersof thiscommitment, adoxa,written byphilosopher MichelOnfray, wasdisplayedin fourlanguagesFrench,English, Italianand Albanian-behind thecolonnade, onthemainwall ofthepavilion facade.

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©CyrilleWeiner

9.Thesetwo translucentpods, onthepavilion roof,housedthe WCs/bathroom andsauna.

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©ErikAdigard

“Metavilla”, atourbythe owner. 10.Thekitchen, equippedfor collective catering. 11.Thetoilets ontheroof. 12.Someofthe dozenbedrooms.

©ErikAdigard

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colonnade with three sorts of cylindrical lantern dressed in his trademark black and white stripes. Jean Lautrey designed a “Chandelier of France” in his own way. Igor from Volière Dromesko set up his circus cast in the entrance, and artist/botanist Liliana Motta planted a garden on the roof. Philosopher Michel Onfray drew up the doxa, a 20-point text to speak of architecture. Twenty yellow posters were stuck on the yellow-painted facade of the pavilion… The architecture of the five senses, and of durations. Residents’ architecture. The architecture of networks and relations. Political, popular and militant architecture. Vitalistic, organic and Dionysean architecture. Cinematographic architecture for flesh and reality, etc. On the ground floor, in the “experiment room”, Patrick Bouchain presented seven of his projects (done or in progress): transformation of the former LU biscuit factory in Nantes into a cultural venue (2000); reconversion of La Condition Publique cultural venue in Roubaix (2003); refurbishment of Bègles public swimming pool (2006); conversion of the former slaughterhouse in Calais (2006); the Belle de Mai cultural and urban project in Marseille (2000-2012); the Petit Atelier Itinérant du Temps in Poitiers (2006); and a nomad tent at the Université Populaire in Caen (2007). It added up to a light and sound

space formed by images, films and texts – a sort of big book to leaf through at leisure, produced and staged by the artist Pierre Giner.

Beyondproduceable You couldn’t help but be struck by the close similarity, in terms of images and ambiences, between this temporary occupation of the French pavilion and Patrick Bouchain’s architecture: it was, undeniably, a way of showing an architect’s approach – not just through images, drawings or models but by really considering the exhibition as an architectural project. This system was to the architecture exhibition what the execution is to the idea, explained Patrick Bouchain in a manifesto displayed at the entrance. […] Atypical occupation, and the opening of this national and forclosed pavilion to the public, is an act of architecture. And probably the only one that could be undertaken in these times of securityrelated nervousness and underlying war. Hosting what is foreign and intractably the other, is more than ever on the agenda. Fortunately, the joyful city that unfolds in the pavilion still exists, here and elsewhere. This exhibition is just the clue to it. Installing life, particularly in the context of a highish-society Mostra, is not easy. Yet every evening during opening week – although Bien-


©JulieGuiches / Picturetank

ArcenRêve I’m the French pavilion’s host and guest, explained Patrick Bouchain. And for the first week of the Biennale, he invited the Arc en Rêve architecture centre to breathe life into the place. étapes: has mentioned Arc en Rêve many times in connection with product and graphic design exhibitions that the centre has staged in Bordeaux, but the chance to examine this particularly innovative outfit had never yet arisen … Yet since 1981, Arc en Rêve has been developing a cultural project with an international, educational purpose, investigating the future of architecture and cities. Its programming, focused on contemporary architecture, has gradually extended to encompass landscape, engineering and product design. The centre has run exhibitions and lectures, workshops for children and training courses for adults, experiments and calls for ideas, publications, trips – a broad range of actions to make various publics more aware of the creative issues in these fields, of the processes of producing and transforming living environments, and of modes of representation and expression of cities that are undergoing far-reaching change. Based at l’Entrepôt, a former warehouse near Bordeaux’s contemporary art museum, Arc en Rêve is more than a venue, it’s a project, explains director Francine Fort. Our project is to show the contemporary architecture being created in order to open people’s perspective on the world. The project also aims to inform people about, and train them in, the processes of producing work, in order to share knowledge about the new fields of urban affairs. Whether we do exhibitions, children’s events or experiments, our ambition is to nurture a desire for architecture, to invite people to create, and to form a contemporary view of the world. For its participation in Venice, Arc en Rêve published a big book featuring some of the actions led by the centre, and notably 50 exhibition designs, mainly conceived by Michel Jacques or under his artistic direction. It thus provided an opportunity to enrich thinking on how and why architecture is exhibited. www.arcenreve.com

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nale regulations strictly forbid anyone from being on-site at night – the French pavilion resonated with the life of its residents (and their guests!). But what, then, was the recipe? How did this devil of a man manage to produce something beyond produceable? Pushing the infernal machine to the limit, making the client face up to his contradictions, never giving in to inertia – these are some of Patrick Bouchain’s principles, said Laurent Le Bonn (“Oui, avec plaisir”, exhibition at Villa Noailles, Hyères, March 2005). He loves dialogue, and thinks injustice can be fought. Devoid of naïvety, he’s keen on maieutics combined with a few Jesuit precepts. Deep down, he would like to have been an actor and magician, everywhere and nowhere, a general and a carpenter… So thank you to Patrick Bouchain for offering us a constructed situation open to the unexpected and to all kinds of possibles. Thanks to him for talking about work in a different way, for installing it here in the way he does on his construction sites – and, whatever he may say, for using the resources of graphic design!

Marie Bruneau and Bertrand Genier have been working together on graphics since 1981. www.pressepapier.fr

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BarbaraSays,championsof Portuguesegraphicdesign In1990abunchofgraphicdesignersformeda collectiveinLisbon.Thevariously-sizedsquadof BarbaraSays havesinceplacedPortugal's vernacular andtypographic heritage centre-stagebyCarolineBouige

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In 1974, the Carnation Revolution put an end to the fascist dictatorship that had held sway in Portugal since the 1930s and left the country fallow. Artists buried the forms and aesthetics associated with this dark era. During the frivolous 1980s, and the Anglo-Saxon pop wave of the 1990s, Portuguese graphic design grew modern under international influence. Twenty years after the fall of Salazar’s regime, five students in the second year of a visualcommunication course at Lisbon’s school of fine arts founded a collective, Barbara Says, that would reshape the landscape. Antonio Silveira Gomes, José Albergaria, Carlos Rei Liborio, Leonel Duarte and Vasco Albergaria Martins initially had few resources: their first studio was the lounge of José Albergaria’s flat. Lisbon university had no computer equipment, and the students received a very traditional diet of teaching: lots of drawing, no workshops, and little about contemporary graphic design or typography. The collective’s members closed ranks to challenge the conservatism of certain teachers and obtain more technological input. Two years after graduating, the five likely

lads finally settled in dedicated premises, next door to the university. Some of them found jobs as technicians in their old classrooms, which now had computers. At this time, the collective was carrying out various commissions for posters and editorial design: architecture magazines, university-lecture posters, flyers for the fashion event Moda Lisboa, and illustrations and photomontages for a daily newspaper. For each poster for Zé Dos Bois (ZDB), a contemporary music and visual arts gallery, and for each issue of Flirt magazine, Barbara Says proposed a different style and new letterwork. The collective, disputing the rules of corporate identity whereby the type and logo are fixed references that allow identification of the product, focused on the novelty of Flirt’s editorial policy and on ZDB’s perpetual push for renewal. It’s no surprise that in 1999 José Albergaria teamed up with Rick Bas Baker at Change is Good, the explicitly-named Paris studio. The Barbara Says team has seen many changes. In 1997, the collective was reduced to three members: Antonio Silveira Gomes and José Albergaria were joined by their friend Nuno Horta Santos. Francisca Mendonça has also had a stint with the team. At present, Antonio Silveira Gomes’s only associate is a producer/publisher, Claudia Castelo. In a reaction to the attitude of the previous generation, the collective promotes the country’s heritage, with most of its projects fitting its cultural agenda.

“Metalflux-twogenerationsin recentPortuguesearchitecture”: thePortuguesedelegation’s contributiontothe19thVenice biennalearchitectureexhibition.For eachdesign,thecollectiveadoptsnew letterwork,playingontheeffectof textures.Ittweaksarchitects’Letraset sheets,recyclingthemintomotifs.

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The50thtitleinthe design&designerseries (ÉditionsPyramyd)reflects thePortuguesestudio's teemingcreativeand typographicoutput.The

prefaceisbycriticand teacherMarioMoura.¤13

The collective revives the grammar of the country’s legacy graphics, acutely aware of the semantic charge they carry – the evocative power of the linework, lettering and imagery. Institutional roneo copies used under Salazar, bits of old tiles, and labels off olive-oil bottles see their meanings exploited, tweaked and awakened. This preference is coupled with technical experimentation – using tools, materials, machines and methods that have now fallen into disuse, ‘Jurassic’ technologies... Unlike Portugal’s other cities, Lisbon has retained large quantities of old signs, handpainted by apprentices. In the 1930s and 1940s, the public transport system in Lisbon (and that in Porto) ran typography workshops. The city’s streets thus remain heavily marked by the use of Futura, Banco and Clarendon stencils. The coloured tourist plaques of the area’s restaurants and hotels were mostly designed by Thomaz de Mello in 1976 – and quite a few businesses decided to keep them. In the heart of an urban environment that

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bears the traces of its past, the members of Barbara Says constantly seek out – consulting graphic-design archives and rummaging in second-hand book stalls – the fingerprints of artists who in their time produced original work. Among their finest discoveries is engineer Paulo do Canto, who in the 1930s wrote books on geopolitics and is thought to have set his own type (in a Constructivist style). Their composite alphabets are devised with the same reclamatory mindset: to exploit and instrumentalise the meaning and value of each element. Besides tapping the influence of the vernacular idiom and old artisans, the Barbara Says collective drew its very first inspiration from Vaughan Oliver’s covers for the 4AD label’s vinyl records (éi: 3). The group’s rich, textured and experimental graphics, and the harmonising of the photographic world with the typographic treatment, bear witness to their creative kinship. The punk explosion spattered the world of graphic design in 1974, the year Portugal was freed from dictatorship. Even the strictest commissions haven’t stunted the studio’s creativity. Compromise, discussion and the “damp countertop of proposals”, to borrow Antonio’s expression, have yielded superb executions. Backed by their fine-arts training, Barbara Says’ members shun the computer-centric approach and offer graphic design on a human scale, with a flavour that derives partly from the sensibility of hand-drawn artwork and the strongly significant methods and forms used; these artistic qualities are complemented by an emphatically contemporary, intelligent and suggestive conception of their art. Within the potent cultural, social and economic development that Lisbon is currently experiencing, Portuguese graphic design now has its own biennial and museum, and is the subject of frequent lectures. Barbara Says’ role in evolving the discipline is beyond dispute.


Compositetypefaces.Left:“Formato”, aconferenceontheeditorialpolicy ofthePortuguesearchitects’ association(Lisbon,2005).Theconcept wasdevelopedbyJoséAlbergaria, whoatChangeisGoodhasnotably createdanalphabetfromcomputer diskettes.

Below:“CinémaPortugal2006”, aposterpromotingPortuguese filmsandthecinema,audiovisual andmultimediainstitute(ICAM).

2005:“75thLisbonBookFair”.The letteringreproducesthestructureof thepavilion’sarchitecture,designed bytheMarcosandMarjanstudio.

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ThevariouspiecesfortheZĂŠDosBoisgalleryaredoneinanartisanal,illustrationledstyle. Lefttoright,toptobottom:logoforthegallery,basedonadrawingbyThomazde Mello;posterforZDB'sprogrammeofmusicevents;graffiticommemoratingthe 30thanniversaryoftheCarnationRevolution,basedonimagesbyPortuguese artistJoaoAbelManta;Cosmopolis,anelectronic-musicfestivalattheZDBgallery.

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Leftandbelow:“PAO”,experimental screenprintsincollaborationwithMike GoesWest.

Aboveandright:invitationandprogrammeforthe“Efluviomagnetico”exhibition (featuringJoaoMariaGusmaoandPedroPaiva)attheZDBgallery.

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Topleft:aguidetoLisbon'sundergroundscenesince1998,Flirt magazine extendeditsconcept–onBarbaraSays'advice–toothercitiesinthecountry, beforeceasingpublicationin2003.Foreachissue,thecollectiverenewedits designandcoverstyle. Topright:specialissueforthetitle'sfirstanniversaryin1999,andJosé Albergaria'slastcontributiontotheLisboncollective. Aboveandright:issuedesignedinLisbonandParis,inconjunctionwithJosé Albergaria.

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Design andnational identities ei: considers theGermanicvisual communicationsofVitra, FSB andMoormann –three furnituremanufacturerswho haveadoptedwell-conceived editorial policiestoconvey a culturalcorporateproject

FSB’slogowasdesignedbyOtlAicher. HereprisedtheTraffictypefacethathe createdforthesignageofthe1972Munich OlympicGames.Thedoorhandlewas designedinViennaintheearlyyearsof the20thcenturybyLudwigWittgenstein, afriendofAdolfLoos.

LogodrawnonabartablebyNils Moormann,outofnecessity.Functional andrational,thelogoisthestableelement inabodyofoft-changing,convivial communication.

byBriced’Antras Logodesignedin1992byPierreMendel andKlausOberer.Likeboththoseabove, itsinstantlegibilityservestoreliably identifythecompany.Itsstabilitygives balancetocommunicationsthat increasinglyutilisemovement.

Intellectual sloth or analytical failure might sway us into thinking that the only design out there today is global design a thing only recently described as international. Three examples of Germanic graphic communication - two German, one Swiss – give us insights into the specificities of a regional approach. The companies – Vitra, FSB and Moormann – belong to the sector of interior design equipment. FSB makes door and window handles, while Vitra and Moormann are in domestic and office furniture. Their wish to create contemporary design in tandem with managing their business make them a benchmark in the design field. By seeking to avoid passive submission to the technical and formal customs of our age, they are making a name as players in the contemporary cultural landscape. The outstanding quality of these three companies’ communications is not typical of the Germanic industrial scene as a whole. However, the convergence of commercial and cultural concerns to which it testifies is confirmed by the abundance of cultural and charity foundations established by companies. Vitra and Moormann, and FSB to a lesser degree, have addressed the era of mass communication and offered their interpretations of it. Their graphics acknowledge the surfeit of information and its diminishing value; information is now less precious, and expressed in the banalisation and underscoring of everyday life, to the detriment of the unique and exceptional. Communication is moving away from the spotlight and reinventing natural light. 73

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FSBliberating the individual through functionalism A rigorous grid; products snapped full-on with the sole intention of showing what they are; limpid New Gothic type; and an obvious, spottable logo. Since 1985, these traits have identified the door and window handle manufacturer FSB (Franz Schneider Brakel). Drawn up by Otl Aicher, the inescapable post-war German graphic and type designer, these graphic guidelines are not page-dressing but the graphic expression of a corporate policy, even a corporate ethic. When FSB’s then-boss Franz Schneider decided to update its visual identity, he had already put into practice the German functionalist discourse of the post-war years. He was through with Bauhaus’s chamber experiments and influenced by the message of the Ulm School; he rejected the seductive qualities of consumer society. Like plenty of German intellectuals, he was traumatised by how the Nazi dictatorship had subverted images and symbols. Their objectiveness should, on the contrary, serve as a rampart against their being socially perverted; and in design, objectivity was called functionalism. By building an enduring platform for the utilitarian beauty of a product at the expense of its decorative beauty, the individual was emancipated and freed from dependence on compulsive consumption. This ambition persuaded Otl Aicher to take an interest in the company, founded in the 1880s. He would not only create a visual identity for FSB but support its mission to extend its cultural reputation. Although he never officially took the title, he became the editorial director of a series of books published by the manufacturer. Their intellectual stance, even more than their exceptional graphic quality, set them apart from the field of advertising. Whereas the latter enlisted recruits with a slogan – stimulating Pavlovian behaviours by reducing the message and transforming it into stimuli – these books cultivated and nourished the mind. Sixteen in total, they address the dual theme of the hand and the handle in a very wide range of registers – didactic, artistic, historical (with Le Corbusier), and even in comic-strip form, which might come as a surprise given the strongly traditional environment of Aicher and FSB. But can the work of Otl Aicher, post-modernism’s sworn enemy, withstand the fundamental changes being experienced by today’s information society? FSB’s management is alert to the risk of confusing an enduring identity with immobilism. The very nature of online communication, combined with the need to represent systems and no longer objects, is dissolving the diktat of static representation. In one sign of these changes, the illustration on the homepage of FSB’s new website shows no logo or frontal view of a product catalogue, but the sensual curves of a fragment of door handle, photographed with an acrobatic perspective. These few adaptations are just the start. The current graphic context could inexorably transform the very nature of this functionalist communication. The diversity of contemporary graphic expression is likely to steer this humanist approach into a stylistic niche. Is modernity suffering from cultural obsolescence?

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‘FaithfultothegriddevisedbyOtlAicher,thepagesofFSB’scatalogueexemplifyfunctionalgraphics. Thelegibilityoftheproductreferencesandtherejectionofanythingpurposelesscontributetopagesof perfection.Thisgraphicrigourwascalledslightlyintoquestioninthe2006catalogue,whichdaredto useflatcolourblocksonthechapterdividerpages.ThisinfidelitytoOtlAicher'sgreyisendorsedbyaLe Corbusiertextoncolour.


FSBEdition–aninitiativeconceivedbyOtlAicher,fatherof thecurrentgraphicguidelines–wasassignedthemission ofdisseminatingthecompany'sculture.Thefirstbook, entitledGreifen+Griffe(“Grasping+Handles”),setoutthe company'svisionsandprojectionsinrespectofthesetwo terms.Aicher’sideawastopublishbooksthatwould presenttheoryasthefruitofpracticalexperience,notthe otherwayround.Havingbroughtout16volumes,FSBhas forthepasttwoyearsbeentakingafreshdirection,with architecturethecommonthread.Followingafirstvolume dedicatedtoafestivalofmusic,poetryandreadings, in2005MarioBottadidabookaboutencounters betweenarchitectureandpoetry.

Above:FSB’swebsite.Homepages:“Doorhandleelement”and“Objectsin context”.

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NilsHolgerMoormann alternative and managerial With its taste for freedom of expression and vivid libertarian streak, the contemporary furniture manufacturer Nils Holger Moormann doesn’t go unnoticed in über-conservative Bavaria. Since 1982, this small business and its 20-strong staff have been making furniture that’s inventive in how it’s made and used. Fans of gratuitous visual experiments, look away now. The company’s visual communication, effective and convivial, combines commercial pragmatism with an intuition that’s emphatically more affective than it is scholarly. On one hand you have clear, pared-down sales catalogues that are designed primarily as practical tools. Their clarity and legibility serve as graphic guidelines. But Moormann’s commercial respectability doesn’t go the distance. Rolls of tickets, to be torn off like at the cinema, serve as infotags for each furniture item. At each trade show a small brochure, more evocative than descriptive, gaily depicts the firm’s imaginative realm. This good-natured feeling of freedom, without any trace of rigidity or formalistic éclat, provides the leitmotif for the firm’s communications. Though slightly hazy, its rejection of arrogance and simplistic slogans mean you won’t confuse it with ordinary, ill-structured commercial strategies. It doesn’t force itself on you; it provides a convivial space. The Mobro (for Moormann Broschüren, or brochures) cultivate the register of evocation. Their commercial end goal positions them as identity-led catalogues. They signify a brand first, and products second. Their unfettered tone and the juxtaposition of photography, illustration and literary texts give them full-fledged book status. The graphic and editorial design of these biennial publications is assigned to different creatives in turn. The graphic-design specification is succinct: A6 format, a theme connected to Moormann furniture, and an indispensable smattering of humour. The firm’s furniture and graphics are coherent: both reject arrogant forms. Admittedly, for budgetary reasons but also for fear of losing its jovial tone, boss Nils Moormann bypasses the intimidating stars of the design world; he prefers to stick to one criterion: personal esteem for the author and their work. The result? Graphic design driven not by an ideal of beauty but by the aspiration to live better on a daily basis. Nils Holger Moormann’s libertarian streak adds to its output a few angry outbursts and expressions of pleasure. Following a long and perilous lawsuit against a leading Scandinavian furniture retailer, in 2001 he published a small brochure illustrated by Eugen Egner, which relates the little rams’ run-in with the big, bad elk. This coexistence of alternative and commercial cultures – hard to imagine in our Latin countries – feels more comfortable in a Germanic setting which, contrary to the clichés, is less formalistic and certainly less compartmentalised than our own. Bookspublishedeverytwoyears,withadifferentdesignereachtime;theyarechosenaccordingtoNils Moormann'sempathywiththem.Thespecissparse:A6format,a‘bibliophilic’criteriondemandingthat Mobroidentifiesinsomewaywithabook,asplashofhumour,andsomementionofMoormann furniture.Theseventh,mostrecenteditioncameoutinApril2006. Deliberatelylightintone,thebookscombinephotography,illustration,poetry,reportageandfurniture descriptions.LikeallMoormannpublications,theyadoptacontemporaryslantoncommunicationthat trivialises(devalues?)information,whosereferenceshaveshiftedfromideologytoideas.

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MessebuchMoormann. Thesesmallbrochuresarehandedoutattradefairs.Resolutelyevocative,theyconveytheMoormannidentityofgood (better?)everydaylivingwhileavoidinganyanalyticalpresentationofthefurniture.Theirartworkischaracterisedby simplicity(differentfrombeingpared-down)andspontaneity(rejectingformalismatthegraphicleveland,beyondthat,at thesociallevel).[1]Aphoto-noveltellingthetalesofUncleNils(Moormann).[2]Aculinary-furnitureguide.

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Vitraa cultural institution Vitra’s design roster features some A-listers. Charles and Ray Eames, Jean Prouvé, Verner Panton, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Starck and the Bouroullec brothers create furniture for the brand. Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando have contributed to the architectural heritage of the company and its museum. In the graphic-design department, hired hands include Tibor Kalman, Mendell & Oberer’s studio, Bruce Mau, and most recently, Michael Rock of 2x4 and Cornel Windlin. This craving for excellence is a necessary crutch for the Swiss mentality. Inside every Helvetian there slumbers a mountain peasant who is still slightly surprised, not to say embarrassed, by his fortune in the bank. It offers him the opulence that his Calvinist culture forbids him from flaunting: excellence becomes a justification, excusing wealth obtained more by savings-account virtues than those of sweat and toil. This people of watchmakers, an exegete of the Bible, has thrown itself into the expiatory study and practice of commercial and cultural mechanisms. Rolf Fehlbaum, since 1976 the chief executive of family firm Vitra, is continuing in this spirit a virtuous quest for the creative references of his era. Virtuous, because here one doesn’t pull out the chequebook and treat oneself to a talent; one searches, works, builds and projects together. The firm’s encounters with creatives, orchestrated by Fehlbaum, are primarily the result of savvy intuition, unlike those of Nils Moormann, which stem more from an emotional pull. Michael Rock, of New York studio 2x4, has since 2004 been graphic-designing the “Workspirit” collection, which every two years disseminates the spirit of Vitra office furniture (éi: 6). The recently-established home furniture division (Vitra Home) hired Swiss graphic designer Cornel Windlin to create its 2005 and 2006 catalogues. Windlin, a typographer and ex-associate of Neville Brody, works both for cultural institutions and commercial enterprises. For these commissions, he enlisted an international galaxy of contemporary artists, photographers and illustrators. The result: two publications that are at ease with their functionality as catalogues and ambitious in their cultural positioning. They are presented as two books, entitled “Select”, for the analytical part, and “Arrange”, for the identity. In 2005 these siamese volumes, bound by their cover, formed a single object. The 2006 edition, for practical reasons to do with shipping and browsing, had to be separated into two tomes. The first lists and describes all Vitra’s products; the second places the furniture in context, in everyday scenes and interiors dreamt up and selected by international photographers. The succession of photos is given rhythm by variously-sized inserts; these were created by artists, illustrators and a textile designer, who each composed a free variation on some of the classic items in Vitra’s collection. Though separate from the communications and publications of the Vitra museum in Weil-am-Rhein, the communications of Vitra the company incorporate contemporary culture’s ideas and trends. The photographers who contributed to the “Arrange” part of the catalogues understate the designers’ work by using it to accessorise scenes of everyday life. In a style akin to Nan Goldin’s, they reinvent a photographic emotion by imparting a banal quality to the medium and the subject.

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ThreeupscalevisionsoftheVitraspiritforthe“Workspirit”officecatalogues.Top:TiborKalman’ssocioethnicflavourin1994,sizeA4.Middle:themorefunctionalistapproachofPierreMendellandKlaus Oberer,in1995,sizeA4.Bottom:in2002,thisirreverentpictureàla EttoreSottsass,chosenby2x4to presentJeanProuvé,wasoriginallyaposterbyM/M(seep.34),30.5x46cm.


2005Vitracatalogue. CreatedbyCornelWindlin,theVitrahomecataloguedividesintotwosiamesevolumes:ananalytical part,entitled“Select”,whichbringstogetheralltheproducts;andanother,identity-ledpart,“Arrange”, whichshowsfurnitureineverydaysettings.Aseriesofinsertsindifferentsizespresentthe improvisationsofartists,graphicdesignersandillustratorsbasedonfurniturebythefirm’stop designers.Thiseditorialobjectisametaphoraboutthediversityandmovementthatcharacterisethe riches,rangeandcomplexityofanyidentity. TheRAR(“RockingPlasticArmchair”)byCharles&RayEames(1950).DrawingbyGuyMeldem/KörnerUnion. The“PantonChair”byVernerPanton(1999).Photographs:AriMarcopoulos.

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1.ThomasMaitlandCleland.Coverof thefirstissueofFortune,February 1930.Inhiseditorial,HenryLuce definedanewcriterionforclassifying themajorfortunes,introducing “billion”.Abusinessmanwhoneared a“billion”becameapossiblefortune. 2.PaoloGarretto.Cover,1932.AFuturist styleinwhichfactorychimney-stacks resembleabatteryofthreatening cannons.

“Fortune”, astory ofart andmoney Fortune magazine,the narcissisticbibleofpre-war Americanbusiness,was untilthe1960sauniquevisual laboratory withinTimeInc. byPierrePonant

The purpose of Fortune is to reflect Industrial Life in ink and paper and work and picture as the finest skyscraper reflects it in stone and steel and architecture. The business world expects Fortune to be the cutting edge of an aircraft wing and the cable-unravelling Nautilus of the ocean depths. It employs Fortune to scrutinise the blinding core of the furnaces and the expressions on bankers' faces. Highly futuris-

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3.AntonioPetruccelli.Coverdetail, 1938.

tic in tone, Fortune's first editorial was penned by Henry Luce in February 1930. In the United States, the inter-war period yielded a rich crop of new publications. In 1923, Henry Luce and his associate Briton Hadden, both Yale graduates, created the weekly Time with funds raised from their circle of friends. A “new magazine” on America's periodicals scene, it provided a fairly upbeat weekly summary of what had happened in society. They also founded Time Inc., a new media group that Luce, following Hadden’s premature death, transformed into a laboratory that spawned arresting headlines and turns of phrase. Months after the terrible Wall Street Crash of 1929, Luce and Hadden launched Fortune. In Henry Luce’s view, enterprise was the history of America. And someone had to cover the life of the men who played out the saga of American success: the new aristocracy of the business world. It was a duty worthy of the finest journalists. To discharge it, Archibald MacLeish and James Agee joined the editorial team. Fortune, in serving the

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4.Antonio Petruccelli coverabout there-election ofPresident Roosevelt,1936.

ThomasMaitland Cleland,a graphic designer in the service of luxury In a memo to the board of directors that rubberstamped his recruitment by Time Inc., Thomas Maitland Cleland is presented as a unanimous choice among the corporation’s members, given his acknowledged authority in the fields of design and typography among peers, printers and publishers. This consensus was further underpinned by his reputation in New York’s business community, and particularly his work as an art director in the luxury-goods industry. In 1927, Cleland conceived and executed the famous catalogue for Cadillac, a object that was conventional in its illustrative approach but innovative in how it was printed. Cleland used spot colours printed on flat blocks of silver… The publication’s pages were laid out using typefaces he created, such as Della Robbia (1902) and Garamont Amsterdam BQ (designed with M. F. Benton in 1917), played with supports and used the latest finishing techniques. Thomas Maitland Cleland’s career began in Boston and New York when he established the Cornhill Press, for which he was typographer, publisher and printer. In 1901, he published four little books including The Shrine of Death and The Shrine of Love by Lady Dilke, of which 290 copies were printed. These revealed the strong influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, and notably the work of Will Bradley. They also featured illustrations that testified to the eclectic range of his approach as a graphic agitator, printer, inventor of new typographic signs and ornaments, painter, theatre designer and muralist – all fields of experimentation in which he had already made his mark. The first cover artwork – which was to serve as Fortune’s corporate identity – was, so the story goes, conceived and drawn by Cleland on a tablecloth while he was dining Chez Bruno, on East 12th Street, with the magazine’s editor Parker Lloyd-Smith. The discussion between client and designer yielded a hand-drawn illustration, setting the frame (in reference to the outline of a window in the Time Inc. building) and the seriffed type of the title. Having created the entire magazine design, Cleland, who couldn’t see the point of remaining art director and managing the title from month to month, introduced Henry Luce to Eleanor Treacy. She hired the team of painter-illustrators who would earn its artistic recognition. The tablecloth, meanwhile, ended up framed in Time Inc.'s lobby.

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5&6.Spreads fromtheJuly 1936issue: aphotographic reportby R.H.Hoffmann onJohn RockefellerJr.

7.Antonio Petruccellicover reflectingthe American economy’s concernsabout thewarin Europe,1939.


EleanorTreacy: a woman calls the graphic shots

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American economy, sought to be the most handsome of magazines. Its editor wished each page to be a work of art – and especially the cover, for the period tended to judge a publication by its exterior visual éclat. This often provoked hard-fought negotiations between the publisher, art director and newsroom – something that Time Inc.'s board of directors accepted. To give form to his concept, Luce called in the designer Thomas Maitland Cleland, a specialist in luxury-goods communications who owed his reputation to his recent creation of a catalogue for Cadillac. In issue one of Fortune, he defined his graphic intentions thus: Fortune’s graphic design is functional. It must clearly present the profusion of articles supported by illustrations and, where possible, by photographs. The magazine’s format and proportions are defined to provide a news panorama. The blank margins round the copy and illustrations impart

to Fortune the éclat of an art book. He drew up guidelines on the graphics used to showcase reports on American industry’s actors and achievements. The cover received special attention. Cleland based it on the drawing of a window in the Time Inc. building in New York – a window on the world of industry, a window framing a work of art on the cover. The job of commissioning artwork went to Eleanor Treacy, who joined at the start as the title’s first art director. Treacy realised the window conceit had to carry a heavy impact and that the Modernist spirit needed to take precedence over content. She turned to a young generation of artists, illustrators and photographers trained in the European avantgarde movements. Artists such as F.V. Carpenter, Walter Buehr, Paolo Garretto, Antonio Petruccelli and Norman Reeves created covers in the Neo-Realist and Cubist Decorative styles. As for photographers Margaret

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8.WalterBuehr cover,1930.A modernistvision withskyscrapers ofsteeland silver.

9.Spreadfrom July1936:a photographic reportbyGerald Youngonthe YellowTruck& Coachcompany.

After four issues and Cleland’s departure, Treacy became art director of Fortune and the first woman in American magazine history to hold such a post. In fact she wore two hats: graphic designer, at first executing Cleland’s recommendations as closely as possible; and art buyer, in which capacity she proved an able talent scout. Given the somewhat porous line between artwork commissions and pure design, she tended to search for collaborators throughout the art world; and managed to lure to Fortune artists such as Diego Rivera and Constantin Alajalov, as well as renowned poster exponents such as A. M. Cassandre. Some painters, including Reginald Marsh, John Stuart Curry and Ludwig Bemelmans, only illustrated topics, which were most often given a four-colour treatment. Others, such as Walter Buehr, Ernest Hamlin Baker and F. V. Carpenter, were commissioned to do covers. In summer 1933 a young fabric illustrator, Antonio Petruccelli, presented his portfolio, comprising screens for making pyjamas. The meeting between Petruccelli and Treacy gave rise to 35 covers during a 10-year collaboration. Petruccelli’s Cubist Decorative style thus marked a period of Fortune’s visual history. The work of Paolo Garretto, a caricaturist and painter of Italian origin, also contributed to this approach. He was one of the in-house illustrators of the Condé Nast group, and regularly contributed to Vogue and Vanity Fair. His Futurist style flowed from an original visual treatment using an aerograph, or air brush. Besides draughted illustration, Eleanor Treacy engaged Fortune in a real debate about photography and its relationship with text. Treacy laid out reports herself, developing a clear, precise language with economical means. She played on the flow of images and with variable scales as she led readers across the spreads. After devoting eight years to developing the magazine, she resigned, criticising Henry Luce for mumbling and shrugging his shoulders whenever she talked to him about women at work and in the business world. Having become a freelance consultant, in 1940 she was hired by Henry Luce to visually redesign Time.

10&11.Antonio Petruccellicover from1936,foran issueentirely givenovertothe Japanese economy.Across insidespreads,a photographic reportbythe BlackStaragency.

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DiegoRivera, a propagandist in the heart of Capital In the late 1920s, painter and political agitator Diego Rivera was an inescapable figure on Mexico’s artistic scene. Along with painters David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, he authored the muralist manifesto that laid claim to an art for the people. When he was expelled from the Mexican communist party in 1929 for disobeying the official line set out by its political bureau, Rivera wished to distance himself a little from Mexico. In 1931, accompanied by Frida Kahlo, he travelled to San Francisco to execute a mural, Allegory of California, commissioned by the gallery of the San Francisco School of Art. In New York, he was offered the picture-rails of the Museum of Modern Art, where his retrospective – after that of Matisse – was one of the venue’s first exhibitions. In Detroit, with financial support from Edsel Ford, he painted another mural, Man and Machine, for the Detroit Institute of Art. But his most resounding piece was his mural for the famous billionaire Rockefeller, who had just built a new business centre in New York. Man at the Crossroads, in the lobby, depicts a May Day demonstration at which Lenin and Karl Marx can be recognised. Controversy then ensued between the conservative press, which vehemently opposed the project, and leftist intelligentsia, who staged street protests. Rockefeller decided to halt the work and ordered its destruction. Two years later Rivera painted a second version, in Mexico City, at the palace of fine arts. It was in this context that Eleanor Treacy contacted Rivera and invited him to create the cover of the March 1932 Fortune. He conceived an illustration showing a demonstration in Red Square, Moscow. The issue focused entirely on the Soviet Union and the implementation of its five-year plan. Henry Luce’s editorial was not wholly unambiguous: Nothing in Russia today is more interesting or significant for the future than the changing mentality of the Russian peasants taking part in the growing success that collectivisation is currently producing... For the first time in history, these peasants have themselves realised that they carry economic and political weight. Eleanor Treacy designed the issue, alternating photographs from Soviet press agencies, Soviet publications and propaganda illustrations. Thus did Diego Rivera, like Siqueiros and Orozco, influence American cultural politics. In 1933, the US government instituted a programme of official commissions for artists severely affected by the economic crisis, and in which mural paintings had a stand-out role.

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12.DiegoRivera.Coverillustrationfor theMarch1932issue,entirelydevoted totheSovietUnion.

13.InsidepageconcludingtheUSSR reportwithareproductionofaposter commemoratingthefirstrevolutionof 1905.


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14.Illustrationsfromapropaganda bookintendedforRussianpeasants, fromaprivatecollection.

15.Spreadwithofficialportraitsof SovietdignitariesLenin,Stalinand KlimentVoroshilov,commissarfor militaryandnavalaffairs,inthe SocialistRealiststyle.

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FrancisBrennan, art director of the war years Francis Brennan took over from Eleanor Treacy in January 1938, joining from the Condé Nast Group, where he was a close associate of Mehemed Fhemy Agha. He wanted to transform Fortune’s interior and exterior image and root it in the Modernist movement. The cover he created in June 1939 said much about the aesthetic he aspired to: a boldly colourful visual that was more poster than painting, deftly demonstrating the power of well-mastered graphics. Like Eleanor Treacy he believed in talent, and introduced new ones to the magazine’s pages – starting with George Giusti, an Italian immigrant, whose first work appeared on the cover of the February 1941 issue. Giusti would illustrate practically all the wartime covers. With his assistant Peter Piening, a German who had fled the Nazi regime, Brennan developed a vocabulary of heroic images and a series of signals that would identify the magazine with the war and the war with nobility. In December 1941, Brennan convinced Fernand Léger to do a cover. The French painter had been exiled in New York since September 1940, and would remain there until the Liberation in 1945. Léger was enthused by the United States, and his visual encounters with this “other culture” produced works with acrobat and diver motifs. For his Fortune cover, it was ironmongery, the dregs of modern times, he said: I got interested in cyclists, machines, iron hardware. Ironware is an invention of my times and, as I am sensitive to my times, I painted it, I put it in the foreground. I just did it instinctively, it really made an impression on me. Brennan called on Surrealist illustrator Miguel Covarrubias to experiment with a less hybrid, more documentary style. Herbert Bayer, Rudy Arnold and Otto Hagel also contributed. For the April 1940 cover, Hagel attempted an original exercise in painting over a photograph. In spite of these collaborations, this monthly cover chronicling the war ran out of steam, and, by the time the conflict ended, Fortune required a renaissance.

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Bourke-White and Alfred Eisenstaedt, they treated the ordeals of the Great Depression like the rebirth of the American nation, with an approach that drew on Bauhaus principles. Fortune’s commissions were not limited to American artists. Eleanor Treacy also invited contributions from French poster designer Cassandre and, more surprisingly, from artists Constantin Alajalov, Diego Rivera and Fernand Léger. The latter two were no eulogists of all-conquering capitalism. Was this mere heresy or a knowing wink to the old enemy? East and West emerged from the crisis with their own solutions: exterminating collectivisation on one side, alienating productivism on the other. World War II saw Fortune, along with the rest of the American press, do its bit for the war effort. The tone was propagandist; the style, increasingly modern. Another generation of artists contributed, that of recent immigrants

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directly trained at the Bauhaus school: Herbert Bayer, Will Burtin and Walter Allner. Burtin, the magazine’s art director from 1945-1949, experimented and innovated in a register little explored by graphic design: statistical charts and scientific diagrams. Numbers serve corporations just as maps serve their geostrategic interests. While staying faithful to Cleland’s original manual, Burtin brought about a first visual shift, with the “art book”-style arrangements of abstract charts of numbers. A second shift was effected by Leo Lionni, who joined in the early 1950s. Lionni stripped back the magazine’s design and gave photography greater prominence. Lionni ordered reports on the big achievements under way and on the fastchanging American landscape. These were then treated in the form of four- to eight-page centre portfolios. He commissioned many cover illustrations from Walter Allner, who

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used a neo-concrete and even kinetic style – the dominant form of plastic expression as the 1960s dawned, and a symbol of modernity that neither contested, nor was contested by, capitalism. Fortune was attuned to the business world, and remained attuned to art – a policy that Walter Allner continued as art director from 1963-1974. The visual age ended with the mid-1970s oil crisis, which reshaped the magazine press in its entirety. Fortune, chronicler of America’s biggest fortunes, was a graphic success story in its own right.

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16.Coverby FrancisBrennan, 1939. 17.OttoHagel cover,1940. Afirstfor Fortune,with thiscolorised photographon thethemeofthe USeconomy’s involvementin thewareffort. 18.GeorgeGiusti coveronthe themeofthe UnitedStates’ andtheworld, 1941. 19.FernandLéger cover,1941. Startingin1941, 22

FrancisBrennan evolvedthe magazine's design, discardingthe cover'sframe aroundthevisual andslightly reducingthesize ofthetitletype. 20.Foreditorial content,bulky mechanical paper;forthe ads,glossy paper.Anadfor Container CorporationOf America, September1936. CCA,aclient keenongraphic experimentation, hiredthebest

ADs(suchas Cassandre). 21.Adfor Cadillac,March 1932:fourcolour withsilver blocks,asper thespecification definedbyT.M. Cleland. 22.HerbertBayer cover,1942.Black atomsalluding tothecondition ofAmerican blacks? 23.Ladislav Sutnarcover, 1946.

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WillBurtinand the graphic codification of economic information In 1945, when Will Burtin became art director of Fortune – a post he held until 1949 – Henry Luce’s editorial policy changed. America’s post-war economic expansion was making it a hegemonic power; and making Fortune an undeniable reflection of soaring American business. Given that the success of the magazine and of US industry were intimately entwined, the founder wished to give Fortune a mission: assisting the development of American companies at home and abroad. To achieve this, Fortune could no longer appear to be a space – a sumptuous space, but merely ‘recreational’ nonetheless – for big-name authors and editors whose interest in the American economy was not boundless. It should become an investigative trade magazine. The job of reworking its identity was handed to recent German immigrant Will Burtin, whose stock was rising fast on the American graphics scene. A native of Cologne, where he studied at the Kölner Werkschülen (the applied arts school), in 1927 Burtin set up his own graphic-design studio; and in 1932 brought in his future wife, Hilda Munk, as his associate. The young designer became one of the key players in the modernisation of German typography, rubbing shoulders with the Cubist, Dadaist, Constructivist and Supremacist avant-gardes; and in architectural and photographic research. His work on modern type was spotted by the Nazis, who had just come to power, and he was invited to become

one of Hitler’s ‘house’ graphic designers. In 1938 he was assigned to create the visual identity of the Berlin international fair. Burtin, who felt no affinity with the NationalSocialist regime but realised this was an offer he couldn’t refuse, said that he was going on a Mediterranean cruise with his wife – and promptly went into exile in the United States. In New York he met Robert Leslie, a former physicist with a slight philanthropic bent who had established The Composing Room (one of America’s first modern foundries) and, in 1921, the first gallery devoted to graphic design. Leslie invited Burtin to show his work alongside that of art directors William Golden and Cipe Pineles. In Leslie’s view, the graphic designer’s role was to educate the eye of the general public and thus promote the function of graphic design in modern society. A few months after arriving in New York, Burtin was commissioned to design the US pavilion at the New York World Fair of 1939. Then came the war, during which he contributed to American war propaganda. In 1943, the US Air Force hired him to conceive and produce a brochure, “Gunnery in the A-26”. It was a user’s manual about the machine-guns on board the bomber, intended for young recruits. Burtin’s graphic treatment of the highly complex information earned him instant recognition for his scientific and technical diagrams – then a new field of exploration.

For Fortune, Will Burtin proceeded in stages. First, in line with the original editorial policy, he beefed up the magazine’s collaborations on covers and photographic reports, enlisting the finest illustrators, graphic designers and photographers then active, such as Lester Beall, Gyorgy Kepes, Arthur Lidov and Walker Evans. Then he conducted a typographic review to highlight gaps in the relationship between text and imagery. By restarting the integration of the two elements from scratch, it was easier for him to render intelligible the complexity of number-rich material. Ladislav Sutnar, another pioneer of American graphic design, related in his book, Visual Design in Action, the characteristics of Will Burtin’s innovations: In the second half of the 1940s, Fortune spearheaded research into new visual techniques for maps, graphics and diagrams. Will Burtin developed two approach that exemplified this period. The first, which could be described as ‘purist’, compressed charts and diagrams into two-dimensional projections, and used colour to increase legibility. The second, described as an ‘expressive’ or ‘dramatic’ approach, played with the contribution of new techniques. One of the most convincing examples of this approach was his grouping of map segments, in the manner of a cover poster. In 1946, all of Burtin’s research and conceptual and graphic innovations were condensed in the design of the book The Physician and the Bomb.

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24.ArthurLidovcover,1946. 25.BenShahncover,1947.Apainter/illustratorofRussian origin,ShahnwasDiegoRivera’sassistantintheearly1930s. AsupporteroftheAmericanleft,hedesignedpostersforthe greatDemocratcauses,pressadsfortelevisionchannelCBS andsundryillustrationsdefendingthecivilrightsof America’sblackcommunity. 26,27&28.SpreadsfromtheMay1947issue,andanexample ofWillBurtin’sgraphicresearch.PhotographsbyEzraStoller andBarrettGallagher. 29.MatthewLeibowitzcover,1947. 30.BarrettGallaghercover,1947. 31.GeorgeGiusticover,May1948.ItalianGeorgeGiusti emigratedin1928toSwitzerland,whereheworkedwith HerbertMatter.HisaerographworkisrichinFuturistand Modernistreferences.

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32.WalterAllnercover,January1959.Allnercreateda ‘Chineseshadowfrieze’systemwithscenesfromurbanlife. ClosetotheConcreteAbstractmovement,Allnerdesigned hiscoverslikepaintings. 33.HerbertMattercover,September1948.Afteraspellin Paris–whereheworkedwithCassandreandLeCorbusier andfortheDeberny-Peignotfoundry–theSwiss graphic/posterdesignerandphotographerHerbertMatter becameoneofthetrailblazersofphotomontagein Switzerland.Matterconsideredphotographyanintegral elementofmoderncommunication.In1936,hesettledin NewYork,wherehecontributedtoHarper’sBazaar and Vogue.Hisadvertisingcampaigns,particularlythosefor ContainerCorporationofAmerica,attractedmuchattention. 34.Fujitacover,April1953. 35.WalterAllner,usingaphotographbyClydeHare, illustratedthecoveroftheNovember1959issue.After trainingattheBauhausunderJosefAlbers’direction,Allner lefttheschoolwhenitclosedin1933andemigratedto France,wherehebecameJeanCarlu’sassistant.In1949he settledintheUnitedStatesasagraphic-designconsultant. In1963hebecamethesixthartdirectorofFortune,arolehe helduntilthemid-1970s. Left-handpage:coverofthe500thFortune,byWalterAllner. Itwasinspiredbytheinitialsusedforthestock-exchange listingsofthetop500Americancorporationsasattheend of1968.Allnerfeltthisimageresonatedlikea“concrete poem”.Forit,heusedthecodesforconstructingsuch poems,andtheexpressionisticcharacteroftypethat becomesanimage.Thecolourgroundreflectsawindowin thebuildingofoneofthesecorporations. Inthelate1960s,Allnercreatedaseriesofimagesusing thesesameartifices.

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Guerrilla marketing: adpiratesahoy! Traditionaladvertising methods seemtobelosingtheir effectiveness andcreativity. Onceagain,theinfusionoffresh bloodissuppliedby thestreet,via amarketingtechniquewith

arebelliousvibe

1,2,3&4.Godzilla’sback! Tocelebrate the50thanniversaryofthegiant mutantlizard,Sitgesfilmfestival rolledoutthemotherofallred carpets,whichranthroughtownfrom thebeachtothedoorsofthefestival venue.Theseamonstercouldthus emergefromhiswateryresidence andtakethestars’walkofhonour. (Atthelastmoment,hispresspeople expressedreservationsabouthis attendance.)

byBriced'Antras

There’s a splinter group in advertising! Separatists have triggered urban guerrilla warfare. They’re spreading their messages through surgically-targeted, stunt-based special ops. The casualty toll is rising, as more and more consumers suffer harassment. They reportedly have agents inside industrial corporations and even humanitarian NGOs! But reader, be reassured: the situation isn’t truly serious yet, for the institution of advertising is not in peril. Indeed, enquiries suggest the big agencies have actually taken to deploying these alternative strategies.

Adnauseum Guerrilla marketing adapts the happening to the urban and business world. Imagine

you’re in the metro in the morning, and you come across a bed, a real bed: in it is a young woman, apparently asleep. As you’re an artgallery regular, you wonder who’s the artist daring to revisit a somewhat obsolete artistic mode. More logically, you watched TV the previous evening and you know that life is a vast fairground of commercial brands. Then it clicks: the shiny stain on the sheet, next to the sleeping beauty’s pillow, is pushing breakfast at fast-food chain McDonald’s. If you’d been in Hong Kong, in this metro station, you would have snapped the captivating vision with your mobile phone and, since you’re 15-35 years old, forwarded it to all your friends and acquaintances or even posted it on your blog. 93

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5&6.She'snotwearinganightie! WorkinginHongKongisincredibly hectic.Tosneakanextrafewminutes' sleep,whynottreatyourselftoa ‘fast-breakfast’? 6

This type of commercial scenario appeared in the United States in the 1990s. It is offsetting the gradual erosion of mass advertising’s impact by addressing consumers obliquely, not full-on. Questions are being asked about the commercial relevance of traditional advertising channels – urban poster hoardings, press outlets, and especially audiovisual media (TV and internet). Urban consumers perceive around 1,500 messages a day, and their brains seem to be producing antibodies to immunise them against this constant assault. Whenever they come face to face with a programmed advertising encounter, whether in public or on TV, their attention switches off and the messages are steered to a place in the unconscious that is

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more or less impervious to the media’s dull glitter.

Guerrillastrategies To reverse this disaffection, communications agencies are shifting ad campaigns to forms, populations and spaces that, while marginal, have the power to mobilise. They stage sporadic ambushes; the surprise effect is competing with the yield of the carpet-bombing traditionally used for big campaigns. They are adapting guerrilla tactics to advertising. Unpredictable by nature, the ambush or attack destabilises the surprised population and ensures the message gets disseminated. With budgets far smaller than those of Nike or Microsoft, Bin Laden and Al Qaida have

secured themselves extraordinary, universal media recognition. Guerrilla marketing outlines a new type of popular entertainment. It demands great precision in the development of its techniques. As with commedia dell’arte, the pitch must be super-simple, and the effect immediate. The modern age, with its accelerated tempo, contributes the stringent necessity of extreme concision. To promote a police TV series in Singapore, an agency staged macabre scenes in busy locations. Through the open door of a left-luggage locker, a suitcase could be seen, oozing blood. The locker was sealed off by hi-viz tape; but, instead of the usual crime-scene wording, it gave the details of the channel and series.


7&8.Crimeseen TopromoteTVseriesCSI(CrimeScene Investigation),fictitioussceneswerestagedinbusy locations.Theyweremarkedoutbythetraditionaltapeused bythepolicetosealoffthespot.Thebroadcastdetailswere provided.

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9,10&11.Moneytrap Topromotea brandofsecurityglass,anagencyput C$3millioninaglazedcabinet.Allthe noteswerefake,exceptthetoprow. Whilemostpassers-byjustogledthe lolly,somemorefearlessindividuals triedasmash-and-grab.Invain.

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12.Shellsuitcase Toemphasise thecareit lavishesonits passengers’ luggage,an airlineplaced fresheggson theairport carouselata SouthAfrican airport. 13.Trailblazer Humanremains froma(slightly underpowered) cremationevoke thephenomenon ofspontaneous combustion, whichlongwent unexplained. Thisniggling brainteaser wassolvedin thepagesof ascience magazine,the clientbehind thecampaign.

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14&15.Switched on Whena pedestrianwalks underagiant lightbulbitcomes on,justlikehis neuroneswould whenreadingthe magazinebehind thead.

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Minimum resources, maximum effect: an instantly-recognisable story was told to a large public in the blink of an eye.

Drunkonviolence Through the centuries, violence has always been the top selling-point in popular shows – circus games in Ancient Rome, dog and cock fighting, Harlequin’s fisticuffs, and now, war and horror movies... The giddiness induced by its portrayal pulls in the crowds. The paths of reason are bypassed to ensure that it hits hard. Guerrilla marketing strategists modulate its intensity depending on the country and type of campaign. It can vary from ultra-violent aggression to a surprise effect achieved by subversion. In Japan, Adidas, playing on the

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boundaries of transgression, turned a man into a beast of burden and made him pull a bus along a road for hours. At the other end of the violence spectrum: in a South African airport, passengers retrieving their luggage were gobsmacked to see, on the carousel, packs of eggs with the wording “handled by Virgin Atlantic”. But both operations hijacked the participants’ emotional memory, destabilising them with amazement and surprise. Event communication seeks to capture spectators by enlisting them in a commercial spectacle. When it adapts mafias’ criminal practices, it can even gain their involvement and incorporate them in the identity-based movement. In the Netherlands, Ikea furnished 18 parking spaces along pavements in big cities. Actors, occupying these thoroughly urban

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apartments, engaged passers-by in conversation and encouraged them to steal the furniture and accessories. In Canada, the incitement to crime was taken further by a security-glass firm, which enclosed C$3 million in a reinforced-glass cabinet. While most people, faced with the temptation of theft, would just stare longingly at the object or bring the family to have a look, more brazen characters attempted a heist – thus becoming robbers foiled by Trimline Security Glass. The violence selling-point can be manipulated explicitly or allusively. If the message directly involves the survival of the people targeted or their loved ones, they will be more receptive to the fascination horror exerts – as illustrated by smoking and road-safety campaigns. New Zealand drivers discovered a flyer under


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16.Helpyourself! Aleadinghomewaresbrandcreatedsome domesticspacesalongsidepavementsinDutchcities.An actor,‘living’inthisveryurbanapartmentgottalkingto passers-byandinvitedthemtostealwhattheyfancied.

17&18.Butterflyeffect Tolaunchanewpieceofsoftware, apublisherstuckthousandsofbutterfliesonthewallof NewYork,fromTimesSquaretoCentralPark.Thiskindof posteringisillegal:thecompanyapologisedtotheCityof NewYorkandpledgedtoremovethem–nottoolaborious ajobsincetheyonlyadheredthankstostaticelectricity. Aroundtheworld,168pressarticles(includingonein Frenchétapes:)relatedtheevent.

their wipers, facing down: it showed a child’s head smashed against a glass panel, likened to their windscreen. The command “Please don’t speed near schools” turned the grandguignol image into a useful warning. Another road-safety campaign, in Australia, was less explicit in its depiction of the crash: it showed skidmarks leaving the road and ending against a wall, bench or bus-stop, under a stark sign with white sans-serif letters on a black ground: “Drink driving ends here.” The allusive style employed here is tricky to handle. It mustn’t prevent instant realisation of the scene; and it requires strong visual signs to offset the missing links in the script. In Frankfurt, hands tattooed with the words “wrong opinion” and grabbing sewer-grid bars left no doubt as to Amnesty International’s message.

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In a softer register, Ariel steam-cleaned clothes on a washing-line onto grimy fences in London. The idea of steam-cleaning, less freighted in London than Paris,1 is appealing in itself, but too allusive to really hit home. The cerebral pathway from the shirt on the wall to the concept of cleanliness is too long and complex to achieve effective urban commercial communication.

campaign can yield a substantial return on investment. To launch a new software program, Microsoft decorated the walls of New York, from Times Square to Central Park, with butterfly stickers. These illegal items had to be removed by Microsoft, which publicly apologised to the City of New York. Such an event, with such a prestigious cast, touched an audience far beyond the passers-by who saw the butterflies’ brief flutter: this butterfly effect was a heaven-sent storm, whipping up 168 press articles worldwide.

Butterflybuzz Guerrilla marketing was devised to transform a micro-event into maxi-news. It prolongs events’ wow factor through buzz, the word-of-mouth generated offline but primarily online. Traditional media – press, radio, TV – can be fabulous echo chambers. For the price of an ad space, a free piece on a shock

Courtingtheblogosphere The scenes dreamt up by alternative marketers update the dialogue between audience and stage, between emitter and receiver. Mass-media communication had reduced it 97

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19.Highon speed InNew Zealand,drivers whoprefernot toregularly replacetheir windscreenare invitedtoslow downnear schools. 20&21.Kidcargo Tospotlightchild exploitation, charitySavethe Childrencovered bothsidesofa trucktrailerwith lenticularpanels. Dependingon yourangleof view,yousee stackedcratesor theirX-rayed content.The latterimage revealschildren packedinother merchandise.

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to one-way discourse. But now, the exchange is taking place on a time-delayed basis, on the internet. Free access to online dissemination is transforming communication. Laurent Valembert, director of alternative marketing agency TriBeCa, stresses how his strategies link with the web. Bloggers, whom he sees as new-age journalists, are aggregating increasingly influential identitarian-opinion movements. Given that a hundred savvilyselected blogs can draw a million visitors, and that there are currently seven million blogs in France, you can see how they’re revolutionising the media sphere. A marketing ambush must set off a tsunami in the ocean of online information. Hence the need to find suitable relays in the blogosphere. For the French launch of the Nike+ kit,

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TriBeCa picked 20 influential bloggers to test it at a sneak preview. Equipped with the kit, a pair of Nike shoes and an iPod, they shared their experience on a group-blog platform. Thus, bloggers are the stock-in-trade of alternative marketing agencies. These upheavals are affecting the nature of information. It is no longer an end product wholly owned by brands. Web communities do not stop at passing on a message, pinging it from site to site like a volleyball; they appropriate it and reissue it, tailored to their identity or character. The ambushes laid by alternative marketing agencies are creating an information movement that’s developing and evolving into opinion tribes whose traits are defined far more by identity than geography. These new advertising pirates willingly stoop

to staging skirmishes that are sometime borderline legal, but they don’t challenge the order of consumer society. They are legalistic, in their own way; they don’t plunder the system. They hand over their booty to clients listed in the world’s business registers. Their stunts aim not to destroy the market but to capture consumers and grow it even further. Their violence is that of a system that reasons only in strategies, market share, competition and dreams of hegemony. It’s a bellicose kind of semantics, and doubtless reflects the consumer society, in which pleasure is more a weapon of domination than of fulfilment. It’s all entertainment! (1) In 2006, French interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to “steam-clean scum” off sink estates – Translator’s Note.


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Humanitarianorganisationsusepunchy communicationtoboostawarenessandincrease donations.Thischeap,high-impactmethodkeeps communicationcostsdown. 21

22.Blackspot Braking-inducedskidmarksveeroff theroadintoawall,abus-stoporabenchand stopunderasign“Drinkdrivingendshere”. Thiscampaign,aspowerfulassomeofthe happeningsbyAmericanconceptualartist

BarbaraKruger,carriesoutstandinglyevocative, evenpoeticforce–anexceptiontothe advertisingrule. 23&24.GridlockAmnestyInternationalattached handstosewer-manholegridsinthestreetsof Frankfurt.Thetattoo“wrongopinion”andthe nameAmnestyInternationalwereenoughto setthisawareness-raisingcampaignapartfrom astudenthoax.

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The pictures in this report are from Guerrilla Advertising by Gavin Lucas and Michael Dorrian (Laurence King Publishing). Also on this subject: Advertising is dead by Will Collin and Tom Himpe (Thames & Hudson).

27 25.Washthisspace Toplugthemeritsofa washingbrand,clothesdryingweresteamcleanedontogrimycityfences.It’snotcertain thatthispallidimageconvincedpassers-bythat thepowderreallydoeswashwhiter.

28 26,27&28.Pullstrategy ForAdidas's“Impossible isnothing”campaign,TBWAJapandreamtup thisbus,pulledthroughcitystreetsbyforcesof nature,andinvitedthepublictoclimbaboard; and,inanothergenre,footballandsprintingon verticalwalls.Theracewinnerwon$10million.

TriBeCa:aguerrillamarketingcampinParis The TriBeCa agency was founded in 2004 by Laurent Valembert, whose background was in web communications. He grasped the potential of the medium, which lets you accurately reach consumers in your strategic core target group. Based in the Bastille quarter, the agency now has a team of 10. Viral, street, event or guerrilla marketing are all facets of a wider practice: influence marketing. Valembert rarely works for big agencies; he prefers the dynamic of direct dialogue with his clients. He has already convinced heavyweights like Paris transport authority RATP, publisher Albin Michel, Nike and AOL. This type of agency, which appeared in California in the 1990s among surfers (of the Pacific and online varieties) is still on the margins in France. The recent internet explosion could change that, with its population of 15- to 35-year-olds, much beloved of advertisers. www.tribeca.fr www.marketing-alternatif.com

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Asheetof Letrasettransfer type:here, Avant-Garde GothicMedium (1970)byHerb LubalinandTom Carnase:besides thestandard characters,it includes alternativeforms (asymmetricA, M,VandW)and ligatures(CA,CO, EA,FA,FR,etc.) thatarenow lackinginmost digitalversions ofthisface.

Skillstransfer Letraset tooktheprincipleof decalcomania andapplied ittotypography –arelationship betweentechnique and aesthetics thatstretchedfrom the1960stotheadventofthe computer-centricerabyStÊphaneDarricau 101

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Yearafteryear,thecommunicationsoftheThéâtre Nanterre-Amandiersreflecthowtherelationshipbetween Labomaticanditsclienthasevolved:inasignthatoneof thetwopartieshasgraduallygrownbolderand/ormore confidentintheother,thepurelygraphiccontent,ofwhich thetitlefaceisthemostvisibleandmostdemonstrative element,isnowacquiringgreaterprominencethanthe ‘foundphotographs’aroundwhichtheinitialproject revolved.Photo:GroreImages.

In its last series of posters for the Théâtre des Amandiers in Nanterre, Labomatic (éi: 2) introduced a new parameter that had been lacking from the system initially put in place in 2003: the use of apparently 1970s vintage type, whose weird draughting strongly recalled Hollenstein (éi: 6) and the transfer alphabets of British company Letraset. Labomatic regularly enlisted Letraset, in particular, through the use of mind-boggling typographic ‘monsters’ such as Alan Meeks’ Candice Script (1976), David Quay’s Milano (1985), and Chromium One (1983) by David Harris – faces which are now considered dead and buried, and ring no more than the vaguest bell in the memories of generations of ex graphic-arts

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students for whom Letraset catalogues were their first contact with the wonderful world of Type. Does such a resurrection stem from a sudden bout of nostalgia which gripped Labomatic’s Bortolotti, Béjean et al, like modern versions of François Villon, when they looked back on their distant youth and formative years? Or should we, perhaps, see in these unorthodox choices yet another manifestation of the post-modernist relativism of which Labomatic, in France, has made a kind of ironically-pitched speciality (‘it’s so ugly, it’s beautiful’)? Or discern a pseudo-vernacular pose – ‘these are the alphabets a type ignoramus would have chosen’ – which calls to mind the bad design advocated by the great

Tibor Kalman (1949-1999) in the latter half of the ’80s?1 Whatever Labomatic’s agenda, it would be a pity to reduce Letraset’s prodigious legacy to a mere fund of quaintly outdated typographic forms for current graphic designers hungry for ‘radical’ strategies – this would understate the company’s historic significance and aesthetic reach, given that the transfer-type adventure is part of a technical and creative process whose effects are still being felt today.

Wetthendry Like many printing revolutions since the 15th century – and Gutenberg’s movable type is


ThefirstthreevariablesofCompacta,launchedin1963:this grey,highlycondensedsansseriftypefacewasobviously targetedatadvertisingtitlemakers,towhomLetraset supplieddozensoffacesoverthenextthreedecades.

no exception – the Letraset process is primarily the result of transferring a technical principle from one field to another: its original purpose was to exploit the water-based decal system – an extremely popular ‘toy’ at the time – and apply to any surface not just Red Indian heads, horses or Mickey Mouse figures, but type too. When launched in 1959, the brand aimed to offer graphic and page designers the means to make titling elements themselves, without recourse to the photographic manipulation of lead proofs made previously by a printer: at the time, few typefaces were made in sizes greater than 72 point, and it was practically impossible to achieve large-size titles with a quality out-

line, as the photography and enlargement magnified the irregular effects caused by the pressure exerted by the type and the texture of the proof paper. When the water-based system proved particularly hazardous to execute, Letraset’s British founders – John Charles Clifford, “Dai” Davies and Fred McKenzie – introduced in 1961 the dry-transfer process that ensured the company’s success: alphabets were now screenprinted the wrong way round on the back of a translucent polyethylene sheet, and overprinted with a layer of low-adhering glue; continuous pressure, exerted by rubbing the front of the sheet, caused the screenprint ink to peel off the sheet and onto the surface of

application. Each sheet, 381 x 254 mm (15 x 10 inches) in size, contained a full alphabet in one size, with the most common characters – letters, figures and punctuation – appearing several times. The first sheets that went on sale offered typefaces that were relatively common for the time and still being produced using retouched enlargements of printers’ proofs: it was the South African Gary Gillot who devised a technique for making prototypes by cutting holes in a thick sheet of opaque plastic, which were then reduced photographically to obtain the positive films needed for exposure of the screenprinting frames. In 1963, Fred Lambert’s Compacta became the first Letraset typeface entirely created 103

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ColinBrignall’srisethroughtheranksatLetrasetstartedin thelate1960s,withthecommercialisationofhisfaces Aachen(RegularandBold,previouspage,top),Premier (LightlineandShaded,previouspage,below)andRevue (above).

Thiscover,designedin1982byDerekBirdsall,showsthe possibilitiesthattransfertypeofferedthemostexacting graphicdesigners:acompositionwithsuchoverlapping typographicformsrequiresthecase-by-casemanagement ofthespacingbetweeneachletter,whichonlyLetraset alphabetscouldachievewithoutresortingtocountless proofsataphotocompositionshop.Togetexactlythe desiredeffect,BirdsallmadeMAandZAligaturesthatwere missingfromtheoriginalalphabet(AvantGardeGothic ExtraLight)andsubstitutedanO,rounderandtherefore wider,fortheoval0drawnbyLubalinandCarnase.

ColinBrignall’sCountdown(aboveleft)andDataSeventy (left)byBobNewman(both1970). Todaytheylooklike retro-Futuristrelicsofanerathatstillsawtechnological progressasthepathtoapositiveutopia.

using this new principle; it was also the first wholly original alphabet marketed by the company, and its first bestseller.

Lightweighttype The following year, young Colin Brignall joined Letraset’s type-design studio – he would became its type director in 1980. Under his impetus, the company’s catalogue expanded at quite staggering speed – Brignall himself made a big contribution, creating over a hundred alphabets, including, in 1969, Aachen, Premier and Revue, soon followed by the inescapable Countdown (1970). The latter face, like Bob Newman’s Data Seventy, published in the same year, was particularly

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interesting: besides its formal inventiveness – a Letraset hallmark, as we’ll see below – it chiefly signifies the British company’s ability to produce alphabets attuned to the zeitgeist: in this case, the space age of the late 1960s, marked by Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk, TV series Star Trek and Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. That was a key aspect of the Letraset machine, which prefigured today’s digital type: the relatively lightweight methods for making type – compared to lead type or even photocomposition – allow unmatched responsiveness to aesthetic evolutions in graphic design: transfer type closely shadowed visual fashions, supplying designers with titling

alphabets that satisfied their desires ever more completely. Thus did Letraset usher in a new era, the era of ‘disposable’ type: the ‘definitive’ designs spawned by modernism, such as Univers, the text typefaces which the Monotype and Linotype teams honed for years before marketing them – and that only became profitable with long-term exploitation –, soon looked like ancient monoliths next to the fluid immediacy of transfer type. Novelty, fantasy, eccentricity and even outrageousness were hot – and it’s hard to not to see in this adventure a dress rehearsal for the digital “fontism”2 of the 1990s, when computers smashed Functionalist dogma with a deluge of frantic, short-lived digital typefaces.


Inthepurestfunctionalisttradition,theLetrasetlogo, designedentirelyinHelveticaBold,conveysnoidentifiable valueexceptthatofabsoluteneutrality.Thistheoretically astonishingchoiceatleasthasthemeritofnotsuggesting anyparticularaestheticorientationforacompanywhose catalogueexudedsheereclecticism.

AspreadfromaLetrasetcatalogueinthemid-1980s: rubbingshouldersinanapparentlyincoherentmannerare exuberanttitlingfacessuchasBrignall’sOctopussShaded (1974),defectorsfromleadtypographysuchasOldEnglish (1935)byMonotype,andfacescreatedbygreatnamesfrom classicpost-wartypography,e.g.Optima(1958)byHermann Zapf,boughtunderlicencefromGermanyfoundryStempel.

AfewexamplesofLetraset’stypographiceclecticism: fromtoptobottom,thefloralArnoldBöcklin(1904)byOttoWeisert,thegroovy Vegas(1984)byDavidQuay,thehighlycommercialHorndon(1984)byMartinWait, theslenderPapyrus(1983)byChrisCostello,thetangyKanban(1986)byEdBugg, themedievalBlackmoor(1983)alsobyDavidQuay,andtheprettilyrococoPoppl Exquisit(1970)bythegreatFriedrichPoppl.

SinaloawasamajormilestoneinthecareerofRosemarie Tissi,whointhe1970swasoneoftheleadingfiguresto challengetheSwissfunctionaliststyle,togetherwithother graphicdesignerssuchasSiegfriedOdermattand WolfgangWeingart.

It is both enlightening and particularly satisfying to read Letraset’s detractors in the 1960s – and they certainly existed – prophesise an apocalypse whereby any old amateur could now do absolutely anything with type. This, almost word for word, was the line taken by opponents of all-digital production techniques when desktop publishing came on the scene.

Extendedfamilies But Letraset’s pioneering post-modernism was not limited to demystifying the typographic object: the eclecticism of its type catalogue created bedlam in which the strictly alphabetic order threw up almost unnatural

neighbours – proven classics, ‘timeless’ modernist designs, ‘respectable’ contemporary faces, and extravagantly-drawn and wilfully fantastical titling alphabets. Because to compile its ‘library’, Letraset stuck a finger or three in every pie, republishing faces galore, impervious to origin or reputation, and tapped every well, even the murkiest: alphabets taken from the ‘shameful periods’ of typographic history – Art Nouveau, for instance – or inspired by commercial letterwork – neon and shop-window signs – or cultivars of tacky exoticism – Egypt, the Far East -, not to mention the countless Gothic faces – clearly a passion in the company – and scripts of varying decorousness. This cheery mish-mash

of styles, which steamrollered the aesthetic hierarchies of the time, is best illustrated by the contrast between the sobriety of the company’s logo, in oh-so-functionalist Helvetica, and the extravagant relativism of the type it produced: respecting nothing and no one, be it functionalist dogma or the classical heritage, Letraset took a casual attitude to the history – past and present – of visual communication, seeing it as a huge park of typographic forms to be recycled ad infinitum. The parallelism between Letraset’s editorial policy and the then-nascent Postmodernism was not restricted to this taste for mixing disparate sources of inspiration: it can also be sensed in the company’s choice of creative 105

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Characterfultype:fromtoptobottom, ForestShaded(1986)byMartinWait, thepneumaticFrankfurterbyBob Newman(1970-1981,hereinits Highlightversion),thechunkyProfil (1946)bybrothersEugenandMax Lenz,speedySlipstream(1985), developedin-housebytheLetraset DesignStudio,andpupil-straining Shatter(1973)byVicCarless.

stance, which set greater store by sensation than by intellect. Contrast the rationality and sobriety of ‘serious’ type – whether classic or functionalist in inspiration – with the often deliberately expressive feel of transfer type, as embodied by Letraset’s many shaded, openletter, chrome-edged and relief alphabets, enlivened by strange op-art vibrations or some uncontrollable Saint Vitus’s dance. This quest for visual effects was in perfect synergy with the work of architects – Robert Venturi, Charles Brown, Michael Graves – and designers – Ettore Sottsass, Alessandro Mendini, Andrea Branzi – who were sickened by the icily offputting residential blocks of the International Style and the insubstantive approach

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of the Ulm School. Indeed the company built collaborative ties with some leading lights in the Postmodern galaxy – in 1974 Letraset published Sinaloa, the only typeface ever drawn by Swiss graphic designer Rosemarie Tissi.

Boldandbolder To feed this novelty-bulimia that its in-house design studio couldn’t sate, Letraset bought exploitation licences for dozens of faces from ‘traditional’ foundries – Stephenson Blake, Monotype, Linotype, Nebiolo, Stempel, Bauer, Berthold, Haas, ATF – and ‘modern’ ones, i.e. the big 1970s manufacturers of photocomposition type such as Photo Lettering, VGC, Face

Photosetting, ITC, etc. The company also ran alphabet design competitions, the first in 1973: it produced three winners – including Frenchman François Boltana – and emphasised still further the catalogue’s eclectic flavour and the company’s search for forms as expressive or amazing as possible – Friedrich Peter’s incredible Magnificat, say, a calligraphic tour de force of stunning virtuosity which also achieved the feat of referring to no known historical model. This special typeface doubtless embodied the greatest virtue of Letraset's aesthetic policy: the alphabets drawn in-house or bought from then little-known freelance type designers – genius Othmar Motter, Alan Meeks, Martin


ThethreewinnersinLetraset’s1973 alphabetdesigncompetition:Bombere byCarlaBombere,Magnificatby FriedrichPeter,andStillabyFrançois Boltana–aselectionthatreflectsnot onlythecompany’secumenical affinitiesbutalsothetastesofanera: thejuryincludedHerbLubalin,Roger ExcoffonandDerekBirdsall.

Inanicepieceofmutual backscratching,thetypefaces marketedbyLetrasethaveoften beenusedtomakelitsigns,justasthe Britishcompany’stypedesignersdrew heavilyoncommercialneonsignageto createtransfertype:here,aPariscafé frontageusesStillaonmassivescale.

Wait, the just-starting-out David Quay, etc. – today strike you with their inventiveness, and the frenetic boldness with which their creators tackled Type and submitted it to every possible shock treatment. It was, of course, the ease of producing the alphabets themselves that enabled Letraset to ‘take risks’ by publishing designs with ‘non-standard’ draughtsmanship, while the cost of developing and making metal or photocomposition font kept the big foundries in a conventional aesthetic framework, because it was economically safer. Today, the methods of producing and disseminating digital type mean it’s theoretically possible to experiment with forms even more audacious than those the

transfer-type designers attempted: you wonder, therefore, why the contemporary typescape seems so aesthetically skittish – a mindset bizarrely dubbed “new classicism” by Steven Heller and Louise Fili in their book Typology.3 After the great ‘digital free-for-all’ of the early 1990s, the sole focus is text type or ‘useful’ sans serif faces, small capitals and ligatures, complex diacritical systems that let you set Hungarian or Czech with their special accents – praiseworthy concerns, certainly, but you can’t help thinking that they stem from an entomological attitude that’s all the more convenient because it dispenses with the need to display true creative originality. That’s one of the perverse aspects of

the OpenType format and its 65,536 possible signs: when contemporary type designers spend most of their time drawing ffj or ffk ligatures – gratified by the idea of helping out the linguistic minorities who might use them – they don’t run the risk of realising that, with regard to type aesthetics, they have nothing new to offer. 1. Peter Hall and Michael Bierut, Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist, Princeton Architectural Press/Booth-Clibborn, New York, 2000. 2. The expression is used by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast in the second edition of their essential Graphic Style – from Victorian to Post-Modern, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1988 & 2000. 3. Steven Heller and Louise Fili, Typology – Type Design from the Victorian Era to the Digital Age, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1999.

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2006Designgraduates étapes: hasalready producedseveralissuesand articlesonstudents’work,onworkshops, onpedagogy,andonvisitstoschools in France andEurope.Thesereportshavetaken variousformsinordertoreflecttheissues ofstudentoutputintermsofthought,form anddebate.étapes: wantstobuildenduring linkswiththeschools andbondswiththe teachersandstudents (whomay be ourfuturecontactsintheprofession),and toalwaysbewherecreativeworkemerges. Thisreportfocusesonthedegreeprojects thatcompletethestudents’trainingandmark theirentry intotheprofessionalworld.They are thefirstworkforwhichthesebuddinggraphic designersarefully responsible.

Modusoperandi At the end of the school year in 2006, we went to graduation shows in French art schools (graphic-design section) and communication schools. In parallel, we asked teachers and jury members to single out the projects that had most caught their attention. Lastly, we posted online a call for students to submit their projects. We received 170 from 15 schools; all the work can be viewed on the étapes: website.1 1. http://www.etapes.com/index.php?num=138

Learningfromyouth After selecting and arranging the work, we had the strong impression there’s an upsurge in interest for typography as a reading tool and as a mode of image construction or of performance. More generally, books and editorial logic remain the

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main fields of graduate projects, in both the quality and quantity of the students’ submissions. Their subjects are eclectic: packaging mass-consumer products, rejuvenating the identity of the French communist party... Their mood is gently utopian; they shake up codes, while staying within the bounds of reality. The commercial domain is considered, but the marketing imperative is kept at a distance in favour of more essential functions inherent to graphic design - which the students give a driving role rarely allowed by the reality of commission work but which, when it is allowed, often yields great things. A curiosity about graphic-design culture – typography, production, history and so on – is tangible everywhere, but never stops the graduates from meeting the challenges that arise from their relationship with the subject. Sometimes, these


Geoffrey Tobé AlexandreChapus NoémieBarral BérangèrePerron ValentinAbad LuciePindat JulienDhivert

challenges are addressed with an existing organisation, which thus learns how graphic design can help it. When presenting their degree projects, the students synthesise all they have learnt at their school, and outline the kind of design they wish to practise. They express the role they want for their discipline. Take a look: maybe the students have a lesson to give. The degree project plays varying roles in the schools’ pedagogy. Students work towards it according to terms and conditions, and a timetable, with attendant expectations. Depending on the school, the final evaluation takes two to 12 months, and a comparison would be pointless. In some school departments, students work in teams, while others work individually on the same theme, personalised to varying degrees. Each student

devises their project according to their desires and to the skills they wish to develop. At France’s national school of applied arts and crafts (Ensaama), in Paris, the subject is discussed a year in advance with the jury members to whom it will later be presented. Then, students spend six months writing a dissertation which they send to their respective juries, before starting to execute their project. At the national school of decorative arts (Ensad), also in Paris, the main project spans year four, and a dissertation on it is submitted in year five. The decorative arts school in Strasbourg requires its students to hand in one print assignment and one screen assignment. At the Intuit Lab school, the degree project is broken down into several compulsory themes and a free subject, etc. To each school, its degree. 109

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Geoffrey TobĂŠfree character

school ESAG-Penninghen

Tutor BernardBaissait

Degree 4thyear

Geoffrey TobĂŠ chose to tackle character-drawing and the formal possibilities of typographic design. His degree work is a series of projects geared more to pinpointing the challenges and difficulties of the exercise than to achieving quality-led forms. His experiments took him in different form-related directions: drawing, concept, system and subversion / adaptation. Ravenously, with or without a computer, he explored a wide range of type and workpaths, and each time discovered new possibilities, especially the advantages a graphic designer can gain by using self-made type.

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1

2 1.Tubulaireisanalphabetcreated fromfiveelementsofpiping.Tubulaire comesinadigitalversion,butcanalso besetinstandardPVCparts. 2.Otherexercisesand alphabetsareexecuted byhandwithmaterials asdiverseassugar lumps,a(Swiss)knife andpaper.

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3 3.AmourStrictisafacedesignedin a2/3gridwithboxesthatcanbecut diagonally.Afterexecutingallthe possiblevariants,thedesignerpicked themostacceptable(crossstitch embroideredbyVéroniqueFerreux). 4.Thefirstinterventionisa customisationofCenturySchoolbook; Tobéprovidesastencilversionwith roundedterminalswhichcomesin regular,boldanditalic.

4 5.Graphik45isoneofTobé’smost experimentalprojects.Thealphabet’s charactersweretracedonasheet placedonamovingrecordturntable. Theresultwasthendigitisedand manipulatedoncomputer.Oneofthe operationsinvolved‘unrolling’the tracedletterstocomparetheir lengths. 6.OuvertureFacileoriginatedinthe aestheticqualitiesofbrandscutout ofpackcartontomakethepacks easiertoopen(thisisn’ttotally serious).Havingdrawnhisalphabet, Tobémadefromitaversionmachined sothatitcanbecutout.

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Alexandre Chapusbook

studies school ENSAD

Tutor PierreBernard

Degree 4thyear,mainproject

To convey a book’s graphic essence and quality in a context where little is known about graphic design, Alexandre Chapus adopted a pedagogical approach. He made a series of six books, each of which addresses a specific aspect of the activity: folding, grey, typographic composition, the physical dimension, and so on. The form and concept of each book are intended to offer the reader the experience of what s/he is engaging with, of feeling the effect and variations of such and such a parameter. Black and white allowed inexpensive printing, and nurtured embryonic curiosity. Chapus’s dissertation, which he is now working on in his fifth year, concerns the most beautiful books competitions, which inspired his project.

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Thebookdevotedtotypographicchoicesisinthelineageof PierreFaucheux’sworkonthepsychologyofcharacters.It alsotouchesonfunctionaldetails,suchasthepresenceof serifsandtypesize.

Onlythebookaboutfoldingusescolour.Ascreenprinted orangeblockindicatesafictitiouspageformat,whose diagramsexplaintheflatplanonthesheetinthecaseofa folio,ofanoctavo,etc.

Anatomiedulivre:thethickestvolumecontainsonlyone diagramoftheanatomyofthebook,whichfrompageto pagecreatesahugezoomeffect.

Tograspthenotionofgreyusedintype,Chapusreviewsall theparametersliabletomodifyit.Forabetter understanding,thedensityoftheflat-blockgreyhasbeen emphasised.


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Noémie Barraltrying to decipher complex information

school ESADSTRASBOURG

Tutors PhilippeDelangle, AndréRodeghiero

Degree DNSEP*

With France’s sink-estate crisis of autumn 2005 now in the past, Noémie Barral looked back on the event through the prism of its treatment in the media. The truth, faced with the stream of information generated, is elusive, slipping between exhaustivity and filter. Readers must make choices. Will displaying and arranging the information help them to see clearer? A collection of books reunites the AFP newswires about the crisis and organises them in different ways, like attempts to yield meaning. Brouhaha (“Hubbub”) conveys all the messages; the other booklets stick to a single theme. * diplôme national supérieur d'expression plastique, equivalent to a master in the EU system

“Brouhahacontainsalltheagencynewswires, classifiedchronologically,sothatthefactsof thecrisisasitunfoldedcanbetracked.Ten themesarehighlighted(byhatchingof differentcoloursandangles)toallowaguided reading–orthematicreading–ofthecrisis.It connectsfactsthatareseparatedbytime(but relevantwhentogether)whileretainingthe context.”

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“Eachthematiceditiontakesatheme andexploresitindetail,thus identifyingsub-themes.Here,the samesystemofcaptions,which framesthewires,isappliedtoshed lightonwhatisread.” “Thegeneralgraphicideaistobeable tostudyaneventbyremovingits successivelayers:eachlayeris representedbyonehatching.”

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Bérangère Perronwhite

walls, mute people

school ENSAD

Degree 4thyear

Berangère Perron, who came up to Ensad after attending the fine arts school in Valence, down south, wanted to travel and take graphic design with her. Seeking an approach with minimal resources and depth, she adopted simple means (A4 paper sheets and adhesive paste) to write light, ephemeral expressions on a monumental scale. Her project report, in the form of a big book, gathers views of installations and records the public’s reactions, which varied from indifference to strong encouragement, the further the location was from central Paris.

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Valentin Abadvisual

identity for the French communist party school MaryseEloy

Tutor EvaKubinyi

Degree 4thyear

The grandson of a communist, Valentin Abad revisited the identity and communications of the French communist party (PCF). He wanted to “give activists the tools they need to express themselves politically and visually� and to regain a presence on the streets. He found a collector of political posters and noted how, from 1910 to 1960, text dominated the party’s posters. To give the PCF a public voice again, he devised a kit of forms and materials for activists to use: type, posters and stickers. The kit can be used on different scales, from the PCF initials to a message articulated on poster placards.

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1.Theobliqueline,alreadypresent inConstructivistposterstheninthe party'slegacycommunications,isthe fundamentalelementintheproject. Thetilt,firstsetat45째,wasreduced byhalf. 2.Toavoidbeingrestrictedby theIllustratorenvironment,Valentin Abadtweakedhislogowithoutthe computer,usingpiecesofcardand adhesivetape.

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3.Sheetofflyersthatcanbe distributedasis,orcutoutaccording tothepropositionrequired. 4.Institutional-communicationitems: stationeryandwebsitewherethe obliquelineisincludedinthe backgroundscreen. 5.Thestreetanditsfurnitureserve moreassupportandcontextthan theofficialcommunicationmedia.

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Lucie Pindat

communication for illiterate people school ENSAAMA

Tutors Jean-ChristopheChauzy,David Poullard,AnneBarrois

Degree DSAA*invisualcommunication

Lucie Pindat considered those people who are excluded from the communication age, and looked at how to address illiterates. She documented and experimented with her subject in associations that teach people to read, before deciding which avenue of work would be most appropriate. Her subject took the form of a poster campaign on reading and writing classes, and its quality stems largely from her choice of attitude: communicate the solution rather than the problem, and turn former illiterates into spokespeople. Through a long phase of trial and error, Pindat understood how to coax illiterate people to consider posters from which they are usually locked out; to choose words over letters, and drawings instead of photos. * diplôme supérieur d'arts appliqués, equivalent to a licence in the EU system

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Inalandscapesaturatedwith photographicrepresentations,the drawnportraitisanalternative.

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Thepeopleattendingthe classesthusbecome messengers.

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Julien Dhivertthe visual world of a rock band

school MaryseEloy

Tutor EvaKubinyi

Degree 4thyear

Two years ago, Julien Dhivert created the visual identity of rock band Astings. His degree project extended his collaboration with the band into the multimedia space. A register of forms and colours can be assembled to compose clips intended for iPods and mobile phones… This animated material features on the band’s website and in a DVD called Spark Race; the latter contains the clips of six tracks, a presentation of the band, and three software programs that let users manipulate this visual material. Born on screen, this visual world produces the abstract, identifiable visuals of the band’s CD and DVD covers, and gig posters.

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1.Albumcover. 2.Clipgrabs. 3.TheSparkRaceDVD. 4.Theinformationblockisaddedto thepostervisualsaftertheposters havebeenprinted. 5.Adaptationofthelogoforthe band'swebsite.

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news

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substance & style

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time for text The amateur curator by Alain Le Quernec

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RETROSPECTIVE

Graphic designer: noun, feminine by Caroline Bouige

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TRACKER

Thoughts on Graphic designer: noun, feminine by Vanina Pinter

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CONTEXT

Gulliver in Japan by Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle

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REFLECTIONS ON IMAGES

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BOOKS

In this section, the titles and standfirsts are set in Kievit by Michael Abbink at FontFont (www.fontfont.com) and the body text is in Slimbach by Robert Slimbach at ITC (www.itcfonts.com).

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Retrospective

The amateur curator

honour these little shows with their presence. Cieslewicz, in 1974, was the first, followed by Lenica, in 1976, and Starowieyski, in 1980. Poles but also Germans (Hans Hillmann in 1977; Holger Matthies and Frieder Grindler in 1981), [6] poster artists then considered to be avant-garde; and I staged Grapus’s first official show in 1979… [5] These modest exhibitions were funded out of my own pocket, with help from friends and acquaintances in galleries and print firms, and from the school of fine arts, which covered the artists’ travel expenses and invited them to give a lecture. For each exhibition, I paid for the printing of an original poster by the artist, invitations and a semblance of a catalogue. This feverish, altruistic activity was spontaneous yet, in retrospect, perhaps self-serving too: by drawing attention to highquality artists, I was coaxing people to respect art posters and therefore to take an interest in my own work. That unconsciously served my interests, I suppose. By getting people interested in other people’s images, I was indirectly steering them to consider my own, for my primary passion was producing images come what may, and seeing them exist.

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The amateur curator In 2006 Alain Le Quernec organised two exhibitions at the Mois du Graphisme event in Échirolles, France: a retrospective of Studio Dumbar (see p. 30) and a selection of 100 French posters. Here the affichiste offers a critical, enthusiastic review of his experience as a curator, looking back on nearly 30 years of exhibitions which provided the setting for some great creations.

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by Alain Le Quernec

Exhibition curator: I don't like the term much, but it’s the one in common use, so I accept it, and I even get irritated when I feel people are trying to put the role in the shade… In graphic design, as in other fields, anyone can call themselves a critic, specialist, teacher or curator – I guess I must be one of those amateurs, in every sense of the word… More simply, let’s say I’ve always loved putting on exhibitions. I started in 1972 when I returned from Poland to Quimper, Brittany, and looked to develop my work as a militant graphic designer (in the sense of fighting for graphic design) with the mellow or fierce madness of a utopian missionary. From the outset, in any venue that would have me, I staged exhibitions of the Polish posters I’d collected over there. Then I thought of asking artists to come and

Culture’s heyday Another intense period was the early 1980s and the early years of Mitterrand’s first term of office. Jack Lang, who overnight doubled the Ministry of Culture’s budget and opened the doors to sponsorship, generated a dynamic which, for a time, brought in funding on a scale never before seen. At the time, following a series of colourful episodes, the contemporary art centre in Quimper was directorless; the municipality, which controlled it, handed artistic management of it to a group of people including myself. I took advantage of the situation to try and introduce graphic design into this sacred place, by showing artists whose work, in my view, straddled two worlds. I staged two big exhibitions by Fukuda [1] and Uwe Loesh.[8] The Fukuda show had a staggering budget, more than €100,000 in today’s money. Among other things, I was able to bring over three-dimensional objects from Japan and commission a seven-metre-high sculpture, which has since stood outside Quimper airport.[2] The show scored a record attendance, which 20 years later still stands… and by a big margin, which may dismay the professionals. My aim was to have graphic art accepted as a contemporary plastic language. I would have liked an opportunity to pursue this kind of experience, but proper directors took over the centre and I felt that showing graphic design just wasn’t the policy of contemporary art centres, which had identical, interchangeable programmes. Times change. Now,


it is no longer deemed bad taste to show object and graphic design in these venues – it might even become fashionable. Long live conformism if you can get something out of it! But back then, it hadn’t caught on; it was too early. In parallel, while I was in charge of posters and graphic art at the contemporary art centre and the national theatre in Quimper, I invited artists to create posters. Tadanori Yokoo, Uwe Loesh and Karel Misek thus contributed to the communications of these cultural venues.[7] The lure of abroad My third curating period happened by chance. I was chatting to the organisers of the Mois du Graphisme event run by the town of Échirolles, near Grenoble – we had a good relationship, they’d reprised my Fukuda exhibition. They asked me to sit on their artistic committee, and always backed my personal initiatives, chiefly by publishing my catalogues and, on two occasions, showing my work. When I was invited to Tehran with Uwe Loesh in 2000, for the Tehran biennial of graphic design, I was surprised by the vibrancy and high standard of the Iranians’ output. And following an article I wrote for étapes:, Diego Zaccaria suggested at the last minute that I stage a show of their work for the Mois du Graphisme.[3] This show was also a big success – the Iranians think it triggered international recognition of their graphic design. As chance would have it, it was their first exhibition in the West, but obviously that didn’t alter in the slightest the recognition gained by this singular movement, which would have made its mark in one way or another. In the same spirit of pleasure and discovery, in 2004 I devised with Carolina Rojas the exhibition “Wodka Tequila 1”,[4] a group show of young artists for whom creating posters is like breathing – increasingly rare in this day and age. I don’t know what spurs me to stage this kind of exhibition… after all, it’s not my work. Maybe I take pride in unveiling new images (as with Iran), and pleasure in showing the work of people in whom I think I can spot the kind of holy fire that burned inside me when I was their age; pleasure in seeing the work of these previously unknown people becoming fashionable in the selections and awards of poster fairs around the world… A hundred French posters Last year, I was responsible (as curator) for two exhibitions at the Mois du Graphisme in Échirolles, although “Cent affiches françaises” was arranged more than a year in advance and only circumstances meant that it was presented alongside the Dumbar show. “Cent affiches françaises” (mainly cultural

posters in content) was, to my mind, more an exhibition for export: it ponders the specificity of French posters in a given period, 1995-2005, in respect of format and production, that only the system of free postering on urban hoardings allows. It’s not a hit parade of the finest artists; rather, it illustrates what can be done by artists whose work focuses on this medium – from the old boys at Grapus, who in their time came to attention through their posters, through to the exponents of the most innovative and disturbing tendencies, such as M/M (Paris), and not forgetting the guys that reflect the reality of the Paris streets, Bouvet and Batory. Given that I’m one of those who represent this reality in French posters, I put myself in the show, to give my ‘friends’ something to talk about. In general, all the artists I showed lent me or donated their posters free of charge. I’m not criticising those who wanted payment to feature in “Cent affiches...”, but that’s not my mindset, so I did without them… Sometimes it’s a pity, but no one’s irreplaceable. What’s a poster worth? I wondered about this when curating “Cent affiches...”. It’s highly subjective. Every graphic artist has an informal rating – I don’t know what they are, or rather I don’t want to know. I realise it’s not professional, but that’s the point – it’s not my profession. I consider the posters I selected like large-format prints, screenprints limited to runs of one or two hundred, sometimes less, with just two or three dozen artist’s copies. Each canvas-mounted image was insured for €200.

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Pinned butterfly Posters, though their profile is falling, are still the main object featured in graphic-art shows, simply because of their size. The poster is (in theory) an all-terrain message for the street. Take it out of its context and its nature changes. It’s what I call my pinned-butterfly theory: you can look at it, but it’s dead. Exhibited posters are dead products. Outside their space and time, they’re nothing more than objects shrunken to artwork size, and useless. When it comes to staging posters, I feel as if I’ve tried everything yet know nothing. Every time there’s a different problem; I’m clueless, but I have a load of methods up my sleeve… Posters are paper, as someone (I forget who) once said, i.e. a product that’s especially fragile because of its large size… But to be displayed at exhibitions, they must – unlike in the street – be impeccable, uncrumpled, with no dog ears or folds, etc. As it’s a multiple, you might imagine that the rule “to show a copy is to mess it up” applies. If the object is rare and needs protecting, it must be either framed – which is costly, given the size – or

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marouflaged, which to me is the more satisfactory solution… For “Cent affiches...”, which looks likely to tour, the posters, all 176 x 120 cm in size, were marouflaged, which of course has a cost (about €100 each). I also prefer there to be no glass between my eye and the object….

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Back to the wall My experience derives from staging my own exhibitions rather than those I have devised. With shows of my own posters, I think I’ve seen it all – from utter incompetence to hyper-professionalism. I assume that the person who wants to exhibit me has desires and preferences, and I tend to trust them. But if the results are wretched, I console myself by saying that an exhibition – good or bad – of my work in no way detracts from whatever quality it has, and that my images were not intended as objects for exhibition. I’ve had some nice surprises, occasionally, seeing how my work was hung; I’ve felt that the person in charge understood not just the words but the very nature of my work as a poster artist. Having said that, I’m often asked to stage my own exhibitions… When I curate an exhibition, I take charge of the hanging. At the Échirolles event, we’re lucky to work with an exhibition designer who generally makes appropriate proposals. A good exhibition designer goes unnoticed – or, rather, steers people’s attention towards the exhibits, providing a route to help discover them. In some museums, you can see how important the intelligence of the hanging is to the perception of the work; hanging is never neutral, it establishes ties between images by repetition, by contrast, by suggesting kinships, and goodness knows what else. This intelligence is key. I pay great importance to it, but to be quite honest, I don’t know if I achieve my ends. As is often the case, I’m better at discerning others’ mistakes than my own. With posters, you can take over really large spaces; and in a show, presenting one, two or three 3 x 4 m images helps me to structure and give order to the space and traffic. Hanging is a kind of compromise between the quantity of objects, the space, and the budget. Everyone knows that an exhibition’s success largely depends on its budget, which if large enough will pay for producing a catalogue, distributing it, getting it known among the media and critics (“you don’t trap flies with vinegar”), etc. With money, it’s easy being professional. And that makes the work of Galerie Anatome, in Paris, all the more admirable. Over the past seven years, it has done more for graphic art in France than 30 years of ministerial policies, despite its laughably meagre resources… Being independent doesn’t pay; it costs. And that’s a pity.

Getting by Money must be mentioned. I’ve never relied on subsidies to run my operations. I make do with what I’ve got; bits and bobs. In the 1970s-1980s, I fully funded the exhibitions I staged, with backing from Galerie Saluden in Quimper, which provided the space free of charge. I received no money from département or municipal level – especially since these institutions and their chiefs inspired many of my political posters at the time. In Paris, the Pompidou Centre was just taking off. François Barré supported what I did from the start; in my catalogue prefaces, he emphasised my work as an exhibition organiser. At the time, I never imagined that the state would help fund these projects. Indeed, over the 30 years I’ve been running them, I’ve never received a centime, or cent, from the Direction Nationale des Arts Plastiques: Oh, Alain, what a shame, if you’d asked me last week, I could have got you a subsidy, but now it’s too late for this year... I guess that I can’t have been any good at drafting the applications, and that the DNAP’s graphic-design budget must have gone to widerreaching and less personal causes… But it doesn’t really matter, and I shouldn’t complain, because it’s never stopped me doing my stuff with no real problems; I’ve just trimmed my ambitions to fit the possibilities that arise. I’ve always found people to support me, and my projects have been staged with the budgets of the museums and cultural institutions that invited me. But still, I should stress the financial support given to Échirolles by Diego Zaccaria, and to Chaumont by Patrice Giraudo. To conclude, I’d say that this ‘curatorial’ work has been indissociable from my work as a graphic artist, even though it very much plays second fiddle. Both have been, and still are, driven by the desire to promote the ideas they convey, encouraged by their supporters and stimulated by those that disparage them.


Tracker

Graphic designer: noun, feminine

Graphic designer: noun, feminine After “Graphistes autour du monde” (Graphic Artists of the World) in 2000, Michel Bouvet is back in Echirolles with “9 Femmes graphistes” (9 Women Graphic Artists), a compact international panorama of graphics by women that focuses on Lebanon, Peru, the Czech Republic and Colombia, countries often overlooked by the profession. Our French graphic

by Caroline Bouige

art and graphic-design schools are women. Surprisingly, however, most of those called on to represent the discipline as teachers or at the industry’s high masses are men. This discrepancy has bothered me considerably. “9 Femmes graphistes” isn’t a feminist manifesto. My job as exhibition curator is to generate curiosity, questions and debate. If a woman had organised this event it would have been seen as a protest, but I chose to do it alone, as a man and with just a hint of provocation. Not everybody appreciated the idea. This is an issue that upsets people. Some graphic artists don’t want to be typecast and some men are scared of the spotlight falling on their propensity to restrict women’s roles within society. Many professions have been taken over by men and art has long been considered a male domain. In lots of countries women are under-represented in the universities and their professional roles are played down in a way that gives them only a modest work profile. There’s the idea that by working women are taking men’s place. The collective unconscious clings firmly to the idea that a woman doesn’t live off her art. Women graphic artists are paying the price for all sorts of preconceptions: they shouldn’t be freelancers, for example – they should work for agencies and focus more on illustration. The reality of things is quite different: their activities are pretty much as diverse as those of their male colleagues. I work with women and it’s my impression that we find a balance together. They’re looking for fulfilment, not for assertive reputation-building. Relationships between men are more conflictual. If there’s no Frenchwoman in the exhibition, it’s because I don’t see my role as being judge and judged in my own country. I prefer to function as a go-between for graphic culture and languages. The nine women invited to Echirolles represent different generations and come from a variety of cultural, social and political backgrounds. All of them bring a specific point of view to a specific city. And apart from the nine artists in the exhibition, I have a deep admiration for the work of Paula Scher, Lucille Tenazas and Catherine Zask – women who have cut free of fashions and trends.

artist also takes a look at the work of American April Greiman, noting a marked tendency within the discipline to give artists only fleeting attention. The exhibition raises the issue of recognition for female practitioners, who rarely get the appreciation they deserve, as well as related questions bearing on the perception of their work. Rejecting differentiation while acknowledging the difficulty of the situation, his women interviewees give their personal impressions and talk about working conditions in their specific societies. Women in a male-dominated field recount their experiences with the opposite sex: sometimes a trace of misogyny, sometimes a sense of complementarity. Whatever, all of them are overtly optimistic about women’s future in the profession. So are women really starting to make their presence felt?

In addition to running the studio he set up in Paris in 1989, and his commitment as a teacher at the Esag-Penninghen school, Michel Bouvet has been an exhibition curator at Echirolles for the last seven years. In 2000 he drew attention with “Graphistes autour du monde” and in 2002 he turned the limelight on the Americans. Two years ago he looked at London and its music scene. Each exhibition is an invitation to go globetrotting with him and share his discoveries. I’ve noticed in the course of my travels that most of the students in

After art studies in Lyon, Leslie David went on to the school of decorative arts in Strasbourg, with the idea of becoming a graphic artist. Now aged 25, she works mainly as a press illustrator. If my drawings suggest a very feminine world, it’s because my clients keep asking me for this kind of work. But male or female, we’ve all been dealt the same hand in terms of succeeding. Why are there so few women in the foreground professionally? A woman teacher once told me it’s because of the upheaval caused by having babies. And yet personally I’ve met lots of women graphic designers who are

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respected in the profession. And all of them had or were about to have children. At Strasbourg there are more women in the graphics classes and contrary to what everyone thinks, it’s mostly men who take illustration. I’ve often been wrong in thinking that such-andsuch a piece of work had been done by a woman. Men put their faith in impact, women are more concerned with finesse. And as far as page layout goes, I’ve noticed regularly that we take a freer approach than our male colleagues. We’re not any less career-minded, though. Lots of young female graphic designers are highly ambitious professionally and the idea of competing doesn’t bother them.

Claude Benzrihem, Florence Moulin and Valérie Ronteix met at the national school of decorative arts (Ensad) in Paris before going on to found Thérèse Troïka in 1987. Their studio is about to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. They’ve notably made their reputation designing exhibitions (e.g. the recent German Expressionism exhibition at the Paris Cinematheque) and with signage for museums (the Musée Guimet in Paris) and public institutions. In the cultural field they have created the image of the nationalstatus theatre in Annecy, the cultural centre in Grenoble, and the Cargo theatre in Arles. They also recently provided a facelift for the covers of Éditions du Masque’s crime novels. At the beginning of our career there were people who called us “the art mums”: there was a degree of condescension as soon as we came along as actual competitors, with a lot of men not accepting us as players on the same level. Because all three of us were women, some people thought we refused to work with men, which is not the case at all. People think that women only get together to have fun and some see our success as a matter of luck. But we’ve each got five years’ training behind us, we’ve worked hard and we’ve made choices that cost us dearly before getting to where we are now. Plenty of times we’ve been invited into exhibitions and competitions as the token women. In competitions, all things being equal in terms of work and reaction, it’s men’s work that’s more spontaneously opted for, and if we want to make it we have to be turbocharged the whole time. There are still a lot of preconceptions to be demolished. Males see professional relationships as cold, logical, rational; as soon as there are women around there’s talk of feelings, emotions, capriciousness and irrationality. In fact each human being has characteristics that are common to both sexes and have a yin/yang equilibrium. We often find ourselves working in architecture too, and in both fields equal representation is less and less of a problem. Certainly less so than in other sectors. The main issue now is achieving recognition for the graphic arts, especially with the profession

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going through economically troubled times. As a backdrop to the women in the graphic arts thing, more general questions should be getting asked: what’s women’s place in today’s society? What’s the perception of women in the workplace? What does charm mean in the present day and age? We’re not militants, but the society we live in forces us to stay on our guard.

Leila Musfy began her training at the American University in Beirut, then continued in the United States. Since her return to Lebanon in 1983 she has divided her time between teaching and graphics projects. She notably initiated the first graphic design course in a Middle Eastern university. Lebanon is a country that has suffered enormously from war, and in this context the human condition looms much larger than the situation of women. Here it wasn’t until the early 1990s that graphics, in all senses of the word, began to take shape. I’ve met with discrimination: in the West as a woman from the Middle East, and as a graphic artist, but never as a woman graphic artist. In Lebanon the proportion of men and women in the profession is pretty much equal. In their work women graphic artists are more patient and more attentive to detail and, unlike their male counterparts, can do several things at the same time. But there’s no differentiating men’s work from women’s: graphics don’t have a sex. My own work is a search for a universal message, for intercultural dialogue and harmony. For me the basis of worthwhile graphics is to never forget where you come from, to understand your history and culture, and to develop innovative ways of communicating with the rest of the world.

After studying in Bogotá, Marta Granados specialised in graphic design at the national school of decorative arts (Ensad) in Paris and film animation at St Martins School of Art in London. Back in Colombia, where she works for cultural institutions, she focuses on fostering a positive view of her country.


Graphics is an emerging discipline in Colombia and I’m trying to use this as a way of extracting my country from the problems it’s locked into. There’s no government support for graphics and given the work involved in finding recognition for the profession, we don’t have time to go into the issue of the situation of women artists. Here there’s a long road ahead of us all, men and women. Women graphic designers have been forgotten not for historical but for geographical reasons. At Echirolles I’ll be showing posters relating to this region, where everyday struggle and suffering are pushing people to think of a better future. Within the discipline the quality of women’s work represents a new force. I really admire the work of Rosemarie Tissi, Paula Scher and Anette Lenz. Graphics is a form that allows for the expression of emotion, and in this sense the results are potential reflections of the personality and the sex of the artist in question.

Author of the Petit Manuel de Composition Typographique and Caractères, Muriel Paris teaches typography and layout at the Esag-Penninghen school. After working for 10 years in tandem with Alex Singer, she recently went freelance. There are a lot of women teachers at Esag and it’s vital that they should be part of the teaching body so that female students can really imagine themselves as professionals. I like the work of April Greiman and Paula Scher very much, but the fact that they’re women has nothing to do with that. I’ve also been influenced by Varvara Stepanova, who contributed to the invention of modern graphics in the early 20th century; there weren’t many women recognised as artists in those days. During all my training I only had one woman teacher. One of my male teachers told me that she’d screwed her way into her job; and after that, whenever a man was appointed, I’d say to the teacher, well, another one who put out. Curiously he didn’t find it very funny. Today jobs are scarce and precious, and while attitudes have changed the situation is still more difficult for women. A lot of men guard their power jealously and still think that the best place for a woman in graphics is as a muse. Plenty of them would like to see us back in the home. But apart from the machos there are a lot of men who see their relationship with the opposite sex as one of mutual enrichment. In the student world, as in the profession, the males are pretty much given to rivalry and are more pliable. The women focus more on personal aims, but they’re quick to pull out of the social game once they find out there’s cheating going on. Sometimes career success makes them worse than men. They’re proud to be able to show the big boys they’ve caught onto the codes, and so they adopt their anti-woman attitudes. When

I was younger I had to put up with the jealousy of some women clients, and I also had to deal with revenge from a man whose advances I’d knocked back. Up until age 30 you have to prove yourself. If children are part of your plans, you don’t have to much choice but to put your career on hold. Then all of a sudden you’re 40 and the message is coming through that you’re a bit passé. To have the same career as men we’d have to live the same life and I think most girls don’t want that. If we opt for a private life we’re not playing the same game. I accepted that long ago: I didn’t have two children just so I could never see them. It’s time to put a stop to the hypocrisy in this regard: the reality is that it’s a tough situation. So you have to keep both feet firmly on the ground: it’s our talent that shows how necessary we are.

After studying at the St Joost academy in Breda, Evelyn ter Bekke worked in a studio dealing with cultural and institutional graphics and publishing. In 1996 this Dutch graphic designer moved to Paris, where she and her companion Dirk set up the Bekke/Behage studio. Working as part of a male/female duo has its advantages. The client has a choice of people to talk to and can make a switch if tensions develop. Graphics involves creativity and psychology and the designer/client relationship is a decisive parameter where project quality is concerned: both sexes can play on their ability to convince or ‘charm’. At this level Dirk’s more talkative, while I keep my distance more, observing and analysing. We’re complementary. On several occasions one specific client wanted us to give our work a more feminine feel: in his case “more feminine” was a clichéd notion meaning ‘rounder’ and ‘softer’, and it was often Dirk who came up with the solutions. When we began working together I had the feeling I was being discriminated against because I was a woman. I felt ignored during meetings. Now I realise why things were like this: I could hardly speak French and I didn’t know the culture well enough to get fully involved in the projects. Since then I’ve found my place.

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Context

Thoughts on Graphic designer: noun, feminine

1. Self-portrait by April Greiman, Design Quarterly, no. 133, magazine poster, United States, 1986. Her work was recently shown in Echirolles. 2. Nude life class for young women in the 1920s (Paris, library of Ensad).

Thoughts on Graphic designer: noun, feminine “Women and graphics” is a tricky subject: talking about it too much inflates the problem, ignoring it smacks of blinkered conformism. With the history of the discipline still in its infancy, graphics has trouble with self-criticism – especially regarding its relationship with women – and with that same history as far as the details of women’s training are concerned. Right now – as confirmed by the preceding interviewees – the main concern is obtaining due recognition for graphic design as a profession.

Writing the criteria This lack of a history is doubtless an advantage. Since nothing has been written, everything can still be written. There are things to be learnt from drawing a parallel with the history of art: it was only, for example, at the close of the 19th century1 that women were allowed to attend the fine-arts school in Paris and study the nude. Without classes in anatomy it was impossible for them to attain to that most noble of all genres, history painting. Thus the few women painters from centuries past whose names are known to us practised such minor genres as the portrait and the still life. The arrival of women on the painting scene in the late 19th century was boosted by the Impressionists, but even so, the work of Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt and Eva Gonzales revolves mostly around interiors and scenes of private life. Space, in these pictures, signalled oppression more than receptiveness to the world. These

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by Vanina Pinter

points were only made later, during the 1970s, in the feminist writings2 that helped turn the spotlight on the work of women artists. Today no one is surprised by the queues at exhibitions of Camille Claudel or Mary Cassatt, but in the early 20th century what little was written about portraitist Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, for example, described her work as “pretty” or “affecting” – in other words played it down as being by a woman’s hand. In such instances the artist’s gender became a significant hindrance to the universality of the oeuvre. This absence of women from the written history of art – Vigée-Lebrun was much appreciated in her own lifetime – and their inclusion by default in the official system made theirs a heavy legacy to bear. Restricted to her role as model, woman was consigned to the other side of the canvas, between two muses – the madonna and the prostitute – and between the wise and the foolish virgin. It was no accident that photography was very quickly taken up by women: the medium made its appearance just when art education was becoming more available to them, and was free of any ‘castratory’ implications. In art history these issues were brought to the fore by women writing in English in the 1970s, but they would take more than twenty years to reach France.3 Nonetheless, underlying these studies was the work of such French thinkers as Simone de Beauvoir, Luce Irigaray, Hélène Cixous, Pierre Bourdieu and Julia Kristeva. At that time there were two feminist positions which found expression in two schools of thought: the universalists, with Simone de Beauvoir, held that women and men were equal, were the actors of their own lives in which liberty and creativity were the norms; while for the essentialists, led by Luce Irigaray, a philosophical dualism led to the assertion of an insurmountable difference between the two sexes. This split was the source of numerous conflicts. On the uncertain status of women artists In 2005, the Corderia at the Venice Biennale offered images from the Guerrilla Girls collective, which for twenty years had been using photomontages and happenings – systematically backed up with scathing slogans – to deconstruct the situation of women artists: Work without having to worry about success. Don’t be forced to exhibit with men…Know you can have a brilliant career at age 84. Be sure that, whatever your art form, it will be called feminine…Have more time to work once your guy’s left you for a younger woman. Get into the revised histories of art. Don’t suffer the embarrassment of being called a genius.4 Without sinking into a paranoid or victimist view of things,5 a woman working in one of the creative fields, and especially in France, can justifiably worry about certain steps in her career – affirmation and confidence as embodied in grants and patronage; recognition in the form of exhibitions, articles and monographs – and so of her possible area of influence. For Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir the shortage of women in the creative field – and in philosophy and science – could be explained in terms of the place and the meagre resources allotted to them by society. In other words, women’s limitations are rooted in their situation rather than in some mysterious essence.6 And while there can be no comparison between the level of economic dependence today


and that of a century ago, the integration and above all recognition of women in the creative realm remain strictly relative. On the singularity of graphics While graphics is more favourable to women’s situation than art, at the same time it’s problematical because it involves creativity. ‘Graphic designer’ is a gender-neutral term. Graphics is paid professional work and less vulnerable to the subjective ups and downs of the art market. The fact of the matter is that plenty of women manage to set up a successful company or studio and get involved with the profession: former AGI chief Laurence Madrelle (of LM Communiquer) is about to celebrate her agency’s 20th anniversary, and so is the Thérèse Troïka trio; Susanna Shannon has published a collection of her work and Anette Lenz’s oeuvre is on show at Echirolles. These are examples that should be applauded and followed up. While art history has been a male-dominated affair for thousands of years, graphics began taking off when women were finally admitted to the national school of fine arts in Paris. At the national school of decorative arts (Ensad), “women students had to wait until 1932…a measure leading to the first steps towards educational harmonisation and the principle of mixed schooling”.7 But 1932 also saw the creation there of an advertising poster atelier. Anyway, the applied and decorative arts8 – including industrial design and architecture – had always been easier for women to get into, examples being such movements as the Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism and personalities like Alexandra Exter and Natalia Goncharova. Sonia Delaunay is remembered more for her ability to switch genres and materials than for her pioneering role as an abstractionist. A further contributing factor is that the profession is conducive to group functioning: to work as a duo, or better still a couple or a collective, provides an additional bulwark against our society’s fears and preconceptions where a single woman is concerned. There are no figures available here: the conclusions are non-statistical and the accounts given are coloured by personal impressions and experiences, but the fact remains that while women are a substantial majority in graphics schools, they are a minority in the history books, magazines9 and exhibitions. Statistically speaking, if you want your name and work remembered, you’re better off being a male universalist. In the mid-1970s John Berger’s Ways of Seeing enjoyed a resounding success and one of its themes – a condemnation of the use of woman as object in advertising – was widely taken up in the feminist writing and art of the time. But our relationship with the world is also under challenge: “It is seeing,” writes Berger, “which establishes our place in the surrounding world…The way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe…We never look at just one thing: we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.” Our conditioning as to the social status of women is shot through with prejudices and blinkering. Above all, the relationships between graphics and women cannot be weighed up separately from the place society grants women and which she forges for herself in constant battle. For women graphic artists involvement in society is a reality quite different from that of an artist’s more or less fringe

existence. Dependent on contracts and the economic situation, she has to meet very concrete demands from local government, cultural bodies and business. She is caught up in the here and now in terms of her subject matter, her chosen forms and her living conditions. She also has to face the risk of a dual invisibility: underappreciation of her craft by society and unpredictable recognition from her peers. Committed to the issues and problems affecting their profession, women graphic artists are nonetheless alone with the difficulty of being perceived as serious interlocutors and artists of real merit. 1. In 1880 women were able to enrol at the school of fine arts in Paris, but had to pay fees and attend exclusively female classes at which they could only work with clothed models. The examinations were not the same as for men. In 1897 the school was opened to women on the same terms as men, but by now it was no longer a prerequisite for an art career. 2. See the writings of, among others, Linda Nochlin, Laura Mulvey, Lucy L. Lippard and Griselda Pollock. 3. Via a conference organised by Yves Michaud, “Féminisme, art et histoire de l’art”, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1994. Ten years later, Marie-Jo Bonnet succeeded in publishing two books on the subject. See also “Femmes et Art au xxe siècle”, a special issue of Lunes, edited by Marie-Hélène Dumas in 2000. 4. A definition of the term ‘artist’ by the Guerrilla Girls. See www.guerrillagirls.com 5. Elisabeth Badinter has warned against this danger in Fausse Route, Le Livre de Poche, 2005. 6. Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Vintage, 1989. 7. Histoire de l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (1766-1941), p. 175. 8. Known as ‘arts d'agrément’, some of the decorative arts were part of the education of every girl of good family. 9. Étapes: has published monographic articles on Lucille Tenazas (no. 2), Rosemarie Tissi (no. 4), Paula Scher (no. 1), Thérèse Troïka (no. 13), Clotylde Olyff (no. 36), Sylvie Lagarde of Restez Vivants, Anette Lenz (no. 89), Ludivine Billaud (no. 96), Nagi Noda (no. 114), Irma Boom (no. 115), Andrea Tinnes (no. 116), Catherine Zask and Jennifer Sterling. With one or two exceptions, the articles were written by women.

3. Guerrilla Girls poster shown at the Venice Biennale, 2006.

Verbal discrimination In France the term ‘feminism’ was immediately suspect and in the interviews we see that few women define themselves as feminists. From the moment it appeared the word had unfavourable connotations and even active members of the liberation movement were wary of it and wondered if it should be used. As a doctrine it suffered from association with a militancy as eloquently and dogmatically blind as communism and Maoism: the class war/the sex war. It remained difficult to define, however, there being as many feminisms as there were feminists (including the male ones). For Simone de Beauvoir a feminist was a person aware of the female condition; for others, the stance was necessarily a militant one. The American/Canadian example of university departments of gender studies was not followed in France, being too far removed from the French ethos. Even so, from another point of view - a partial one in both senses of the word - such studies have led to other modes of interpretation and the rediscovery of neglected oeuvres.

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Reflections on images

Gulliver in Japan

1. Katsumi Asaba, “Mind the step” poster.

Gulliver in Japan “The handsomest among these Maids of Honor, a pleasant frolicsome girl of sixteen, would sometimes set me astride upon one of her nipples, with many other tricks, wherein the reader will excuse me for not being over particular.” Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

It’s a Japanese poster from 1978 by Katsumi Asaba,[1] for a brand of women’s footwear.1 This visual shows, from a three-quarter-rear viewpoint, a pair of nice bright-red court shoes. The character, who like a diminished Hercules would have taken his place at Omphale’s feet,2 belies the fact that the scale of representation – unusual in such a case – calls to mind luxury items (watches, pens, perfume bottles, rings) that have been enlarged, i.e. magnified by the photographer. Georges Péninou calls them infinitive objects.3 Relieved, in principle, of the space-time signs liable to give them a banal ‘worldly’ status, these objects

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by Pierre Fresnault-Deruelle

obey a macroscopic mode of framing – with the obvious exception of products (furniture, automobiles, and the like) whose dimensions prevent excessive enlargement. It so happens that our court shoes possess the importance ‘granted’ to infinitive objects, while being associated to manifestly downsized comparative elements. Thus has our little man, in his business jacket and slacks, taken up a position between these disproportionate shoes. In other words, our court shoes are not displayed – as they might be in a shop window – but shown in context (albeit an unexpected one); in short, they are strangely exhibited. They have been slipped on by a woman whose body has mostly been relegated out of field, for the purposes of the cause. The situation is, in every respect, beyond our mini-Hercules; he is also a new Gulliver! Head raised towards the vault of the edifice he is entering, the man tries to get the measure of what he is looking at; and almost loses his balance. He doubtless wonders what he is doing there (so do we); perhaps he is even astonished that his point of view, which art historians call a sotto in su,4 bears only a fairly distant relation to the celestial apparitions fresco-painted on the high walls of churches… Though an explorer, Gulliver can only be a surveyor of spaces and, for this reason, a speculator: what, then, are we to think of these strange red shoes, which, like sculptures on a peristyle, might be charged with guarding the entrance to a temple? Here’s where the reader (represented by Gulliver) takes over from him (which enables the ‘projection’ to operate): do these high heels, on which women willingly perch to slim their line, not signify that court-shoe wearers, lacking tallness, are minded to assert influence over their companions, who are often self-assured and dominant? Pushing the conceit further: the extrapolation, from the ‘perched’ creature (high heels, feet, legs cut off at mid-calf) to the giantess and her unimaginable genitals, comes quick as a flash. Hence the anti-phrasal charge5 of the caption (“Mind the step”, in Japanese) which gives the message a priceless ironic ballast. It is a universal fantasy that other people’s bodies (especially women’s, for men) sometimes attain unexpected proportions: as, for instance, with this ‘corridor madonna’ [2] to whose pubis the room-service waiter is attracted, like a staple to a magnet; or Niki de Saint-Phalle’s nana lying on her back, and between whose legs pass amused labyrinth visitors; not to mention this visual by French beauty retailer Nocibé (for Strixaderm) [3] in which a statue-woman is ‘treated’ by a facade-refurbishment crew of small, white-clad males. Without seeming to touch her (as


if deprived of desire), these technicians go about their work coldly, methodically. These are coded images of regressio ad uterum, where the disadvantage of having been born drives men back, crudely or naively, to the Origin of the World.6 Droll, impertinent and Dada-esque, Asaba’s drawing is notable in that, decades after René Clair’s film Entr’acte (1924), it reprises the scandalous motif of women’s undergarments captured along the axis of a perfect low-angle shot. Francis Picabia noted that the script of the film should include, among other elements, a sequence where a dancer would appear on a transparent plate, filmed from below!7 And René Clair shot it. On this point, there is however a big difference between the French director and the Japanese ad artist: the scandalous inserts of Entr’acte (which give us regular eyefuls) are incorporated into the film to sustain the idea that Eros is always available but constantly veiled by appearances. The Japanese graphic designer’s intention, however, is not obscene: he merely suggests what the voyeur is focusing on, in spite of himself. The undressing mind (to use Freudspeak) makes Clair a facetious anarchist, ‘unfrequentable’, like his friends Picabia and Satie, for whom provocation was truly a byword for rebellion. In Asaba’s piece, by contrast, the intention is ‘narrowly’ advertising-led, even though it is incongruous and risqué: semiotics are the priority. The message is that here, sex, around which everything revolves, is a chance to come back down from the source of desire and fix the gaze in an acceptable manner on these court shoes, which are fetishised in the funniest way.8 Like their Western sisters, Japanese women dare to be eccentric: these red extremities signify at the same time as they challenge – should the remark be made to their owner – a certain signage of libidinal energy. A second (counter-)example (from the 1950s) seems to consolidate our interpretation. It is a reportage photograph [4] about the promotion of Nylon tights, then new on the market. The shot depicts a windowdresser on a stepladder, making the final adjustments to an ‘installation’ (before its time). The installation reproduced, beyond the licit visibility line, the immense legs of a tight-wearer, past whose feet a department-store’s shoppers would walk. The dresser, who is a woman and provides a sense of proportion, defuses the sheer bad taste that would have been exuded by letting a man tweak the scenery. That day, the store’s lingerie department, endowed with a decor that causes it to veer between gynaeceum (suggested/challenged) and brothel (challenged/suggested), relied on the enormity of its staging. The model’s giganticism, surreal in prin-

ciple, neutralises any potential sense of smut. The giantess in Nylon tights, demonstrative like a carnival figure, transforms these undergarments into ‘overgarments’, which changes everything. In short, the store ducks the allegation of exhibitionism which could be levelled at it, and comes up trumps by exploiting the register of the grotesque. Back to Asaba’s ad, which is not grotesque at all, in spite of its giganticism. How, then, should we read it? Influenced by the spirit of this ‘collage’ (or ‘montage’), and disrespectful as to its principle (men and women are equally mocked), were we right to emphasise its fetishistic, i.e. sexual dimension? It is hard to escape the symbolism of this scene [5] where Topor (him again) perhaps saw the fantasy’s unkept promises. Should we not have simply stressed the ‘nonsensical’ humour of Asaba’s ad, created during a period (Chaval, Mordillo, Mandryka...) that was so hungry for it? Perhaps this strangely familiar Gulliver came to Asaba’s mind because men still have much growing-up to do in order – finally – to embrace the world at the proper level. It is enjoyable rambling from one conjecture to another. 1. Le siècle du design : Art-info, présent et futur, Japanese house of culture, Paris, 1997. 2. See Ovid’s Metamorphoses. 3. Georges Péninou, Intelligence de la publicité : étude sémiotique, 1972. 4. Low-angle viewpoint; said of works shown at height. 5. An antiphrase is an expression apparently contrary to what is meant. 6. Reversals of proportions (these micromegas) are legion, viz. the Kookaï ads from a few years back, where the homonculi roved giantesses’ bodies. 7. The idea must have tickled René Clair: he returned to the motif six or seven times. 8. In terms of rhetoric, we have here a synecdoche, i.e. a part for the whole.

2. Topor, Grand Hotel, 1950s.

3.

4.

5. Topor, Great Shoe Ballet.

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Books

Free press Jean-François Bizot, owner of the now-defunct monthly Actuel and the Nova listings guideto-radio galaxy, explores his intimate friend the free press – a counter-cultural and protest press from a period, the 1960s and 1970s, when social utopias were materialising. In the United States and Europe, more than 3,000 titles with unspecified print-runs had their hour of glory and heroism. It was their design, as much as their words, that exuded freedom and nose-thumbing contrarianism. On the covers, photographic realism journeyed through the colourful prism of psychedelia and were informed by the joy of affirming each and every person’s difference. The idea was not just to look at the world but to propose a vision and bring about change. Via May 1968 and the pop revolution, the free press – behind its dreamy hippy exterior – gave convention a huge kick up the bum. Thirty years on, times have changed and the mood of agitation has dimmed. What’s left is a fine book: a screenprinted cover, hallucinatory iconographics and a sharp commentary from Bizot, who’s ready to puff at the embers of a fire that sorely needs reviving.

Free press. La contre-culture vue par la presse underground Jean-François Bizot Éditions du Panama / Actuel 22.5 x 34 cm – Hardback 260 pages – Colour French - €39

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Word of image Beyond the imposing surtitle — “Metaphorical thinking in Dutch graphic design” — is an enjoyable book edited and compiled by graphic designer Max Kisman (primarily known for his cut-out paper lettering) with discussion of Dutch graphic design by practitioners and authors from the Netherlands and California (Kisman shares his time between the two places). The first half of the book has texts on the left-hand pages and images on the right, the better to make an observation: in the Netherlands, the border between text and image is rendered defunct by the country’s typographic culture. This is illustrated in the latter half of the book, an alphabet where the drawing of each character was assigned to a different designer.

100 Best Posters 05 No art: Germany – Austria – Switzerland Hermann Schmidt Verlag Designed by Fons Hickmann 24 cm – Softback German, English – €35

Word of image ed. Max Kisman Nijhof & Lee 96 pages – Softback English – €17.50

Umbra+DorGrafik:KerstinBaarmann,DieterFeseke,FrankDöring

100 Best Posters 05 No art: Germany – Austria – Switzerland The 2005 edition of the best posters from Austria, Germany and Switzerland looks rather like a Catholic prayerbook with its fake-leather cover and gilt type. Inside, the split into glossy paper for the posters and matt for the texts helps render tangible the pronounced separation of words and images. Fons Hickmann quietly and unsurprisingly tweaks the sections inescapable in this kind of anthology: full-page presentation of the posters, followed by a directory of addresses; presentation over spreads of the expert work of the jury members; and an essay by (design-agency MD) Gabriele Werner, “Design against art: the benefits of an argument” (the origin of the title). The selection – by Jianping He, Kurt Dornig, Karl Domenic Geissbülher, Tania Prill and Klaus Hesse – is a mix of highly cultural and typographic posters and more or less fearsome advertising campaigns. The visual pleasure the book provides derives more from this succession of 100 creative statements than from the Berlin-based designer's layout.

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Paul Schuitema, visual organizer For Paul Schuitema (1897-1973), graphic design bore no relation to any art that could be associated with the intimate, the expressive or the ornamental. He saw it as functional, siding with reality. Its imperatives were chiefly organising and structuring. Schuitema began his career doing bourgeois paintings, then tried his hand at photography. The medium’s objectivity and its framing logic were two elements he mastered to virtuoso effect in his typography output – photographs, posters, advertising catalogues… Because of his utilisation of photography and typography, his compositions were dominated by black and white, with one colour – often red – dynamising his creative spaces. The principles of repetition and seriality distinguished the brands for whom he did commissions, and gave them instant visibility. Russian Constructivism is an obvious reference in his work; his threemonth stay in the USSR in 1930 was doubtless a watershed (after meeting Eisenstein, Schuitema also made films). This monograph, with text and layout simply orchestrated, sheds light on a graphic designer who, for the world of industry (especially Berkel household appliances), created art within everyone's reach – remarkable compositions for tins of ham, weighing scales, and powdered milk.

Paul Schuitema, visual organizer Dick Maan 010 Publishers 25 x 22 cm – Hardback 134 pages – Colour English – €39.50

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The public role of the graphic designer On its foundations of social cohesion and a strong ability to integrate over recent centuries, the Netherlands woke up to the 21st century with a serious hangover: political crisis and disengagement by the state. In a country where design is embedded in daily life, this identity crisis has delivered a heavy blow to graphic designers, who are tasked with creating official images and conveying federating messages. This publication, gathering essays by graphic designers and critics and reports on workshops and experiments, shows both the profession’s disarray and the ability of Dutch designers to question their discipline and its possibilities. Coordinated by Annelys de Vet, the book features critic Max Bruinsma (a former editor of UK title Eye) and designers Anton Beeke and Daniel van der Velden, who have the concerns of their respective generations. Style exercises on the nation’s flag and emblems raise the societal issues that are exercising the whole country: tradition, openness to Europe, immigration. One thing is certain: the preoccupations of Dutch graphic designers are intimately linked with those of their compatriots.

The public role of the graphic designer Various contributors Nijhof & Lee Hardback 80 pages – Colour English, Dutch – €17.50

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étapes : international 8  

Featuring the best articles from its French sister publication, étapes:international is published quarterly in english.

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