Sach Plakat or Plakatstil, which literally meant “object-poster” and “poster style” in German respectively, was a style developed in 1905 by Lucian Bernhard in Berlin. During the start of the twentieth century in Germany, the complex and decorative forms of Art Nouveau were replaced with emphasis on strong vibrant colours, abstract and simplified flat shapes, typography / message which was reduced to the bare minimum, and a rejection of anything decorative. Designers and artists wanted their works to be more easily read and understood by the passerbys.
Lucian Bernhard, Priester, 1906.
It was started by Lucian Bernhard when he took part in a poster competition held by Preister Matches, and he took a creative approach of drawing two large matches, and wrote the brand name above them in bold letters. The stark simplicity and cleanness enabled him to win the competition, and it marked the departure from the complexity of the Art Nouveau style in Germany. His reductive and flat imagery subsequently became the foundation for a revolution in commercial advertising in pre-war Berlin, and was spread throughout Europe and the United States.
Ludwig Hohlwein, Direct China Cotton Importers – Wonalancet, 1909.
Ludwig Hohlwein, Vivator, 1912.
Other notable works done in the Sach Plakat style was that of Ludwig Hohlwein’s. His poster designs were primarily influenced by the collage technique of the British poster designers The Beggarstaffs, and he took inspiration from the emphasis on simplicity, pattern, silhouette, integral typography, and the usage of a limited colour palette.
Otto Baumberger, Marque PKZ, 1923.
Over time, the flat style that was developed by Lucian Bernhard was expanded into a more colourful and realistic style, but the emphasis on just the product and the brand name or minimum text was still there. In 1923, Swiss designer Otto Baumberger drew a tweed coat for PKZ with its label serving as the only text in the poster. Many people mistook the poster for a photograph.
The style was prominent until the Great War in Europe. After the war, advertising techniques re-shifted once again, and the Sach Plakat style declined. However, this revolutionary modern outlook on poster design and advertising in the early twentieth century no doubt still have an impact in the design industry today, as the style or its influence can still be seen in many designs in present day.
Initially, I wanted to do a visual explanation infographic to show the process of our food systems to show how food was not the only thing that was wasted when we waste food. However, I felt that it would be too complex for an infographic poster, and it would be rather difficult to highlight key stats and information that respondents from my surveys did not know about:
The extent of the environmental impacts of food waste.
What we are wasting when we waste food.
The underestimated amount of food waste that we generate in Singapore.
The lack of knowledge about food waste are being incinerated, and are only second behind plastics to be disposed of / incinerated in Singapore.
Hence, initially I decided to summarise and use half the page for the process, while the other half for the key stats:
Combined the process with the central image. However, I felt that it was rather difficult to place information around the centralised globe. I tried to move and resize the globe, but it was still rather restrictive.
The printed colours were very dark, hard to differentiate things.
Figure-ground and background not pronounced.
Colours and tints – need to make it pop out even more.
Title needs to be bolder, or stacked.
Title too far away from the main visual.
The food being thrown to the fire are too messy.
Placed the central image together with the title to have a more distinct relationship with one another.
Which could also free up more space and enable both the globe and the title to be bigger.
Made the colours pop out even more.
Made dividers more distinct.
Re-illustrated some illustrations to make them clearer.
Replaced the process and impact with summarised icons of the wastage
Which was what I wanted to highlight.
Reduced to just icons, headers for the icons, and the summarised impact as the information was too chunky.
Text remained a little larger to enable people to read key texts from a distance.
Tried to keep the text to as short as possible, and straight to the point.
Changed the overall typeface as people might misread the capital “G” of the previous typeface.
Made texts smaller to generate contrasts.
Tweaked the colours again to ensure that the darkest colour can still be seen against the background.
Benjamin West, Angel of the Resurrection, 1801-1806
Lithography was a method of printing first invented in Germany in 1796, by Alois Senefelder. Unlike other image printing methods back then which required carving into the medium, lithographs were created by drawing an image using greasy ink or chalk onto a smooth stone, usually limestone, and was treated with water and chemicals, before transferring and printing on paper. The flat surfaces of the stones enabled artists to have more freedom in drawing directly on the medium, and enabled prints to resemble exactly as what the artists drew or painted, unlike other methods of printings.
The “permanent” impressions on the stones enabled Lithography to become one of the most popular printing method in the 1820s, as engravings made on copper and steel would flatten over time due to the pressure from the printing processes. Hence, Lithography enabled the prints to be more easily mass-produced and at a lower production cost.
Lithography process video
Chromolithography process video
Image / artworks are drawn directly onto a limestone using oil-based or waxy material.
The limestone is coated with gum arabic and other chemicals to etch the portions of the stone that was not drawn.
Moisture would be applied to the surface of the limestone, and would adhere to the areas coated with the chemicals applied previously.
Once the surface is ‘dry’, the ink roller oil-based ink will go over the surface, and the ink would adhere to the areas drawn with greasy ink.
The artwork / image would then be transferred onto paper.
Chromolithography was later developed in France by Godefroy Engelmann in 1837. Chromolithography is a method of making multi-coloured prints, developed from the processes of lithography. It uses the same process as lithography, but with more stones – one stone for one colour, and a full-coloured print would consist of several layers of printing. A chromolithograph could also be made using as many as forty stones. The process could be rather arduous and time consuming, as each individual layer of colour had to be individually aligned one after the other.
Louis Prang, Prized Babies, 1888
Louis Prang was one of the key figures of Chromolithography. During the Civil War, he travelled to Europe to study printing methods, and brought the technique back to Boston. He realised how he could make prints which resemble greatly to an oil painting, but at a much lower cost. He produced fine-art subjects, such as still-life, landscapes, and famous paintings. One of his most popular print was the Prized Babies, which used 19 different stones. He would also commission artists to create artworks which would eventually be mass-produced as greeting cards, which worked as a self-advertisement of sorts to promote his ability to produce prints, while the commissioned artists would be able to get people to be more familiarised with his/her works.
Chromolithography eventually became one of the most successful and dominant colour printing method in the 19th Century, and enabled coloured prints and art to the affordable for the masses. It was amazing how the earlier and higher-quality Chromolithographs were able to replicate picturesque images and and artworks which resembled oil-paintings so identically without the usage of technology that we have today.
These two methods of printing eventually led to the development of offset printing, which was also based on the same principle that grease and water does not mix.
Briefly share your experience going through Dialogue in the Dark. What were some of the feelings, thoughts, challenges and insights gained while role playing a blind person? (200-300 words)
As a person who had been so dependent on the sense of sight, the idea of being in a pitch black place for an extended period of time was rather daunting. When we first started, I felt insecure as I could no longer see what lies ahead of me, and there was technically no one in front of me as I was the first in line. I did not know what to expect and had kept my right hand vehemently on the wall as we walked through the darkness in the beginning. Initially, I even felt reluctant to leave the “safety” of the walls and to move towards the voice of our guide. However, as we progressed through the exhibition, I started feeling less anxious due to the guidance and the presence of our guide and peers, as we led and helped one another in this very unfamiliar place.
Some of the challenges that I faced was probably how I could not remember to make a sound in time to signal that I have stopped walking, hence causing us to bump into each other several times. There were several occasions where I reached out my hand towards my peers without making a sound before realising that they cannot see it. Another challenge would be how I was not quite able to differentiate and identify things through only our sense of touch; such as differentiating between a real and fake leaf, and identifying the alphabets. Identifying sounds from different animals or insects was rather challenging as well; those sounds were familiar but we just could not really have a definite answer as we probably have never really tried to focus on these background noises before.
Navigating and identifying things in a controlled and safe environment like this exhibition was already rather challenging for most of us. Although we were just going through tasks which would have been mundane in our daily lives, everything felt unfamiliar in the complete darkness, and we would probably have been lost and not be able to accomplish anything without the guidance of our visually impaired guide and our peers. The exhibition made me realise how I did not truly understand the challenges of being visually impaired; who have to experience this on a daily basis, albeit in places outside where it is not exactly safe, changes are constant, and there would not be people there to guide them throughout their journey.
Drawing on your experience, can you think and list some of the benefits inherent in the design research technique of role playing?
Through this experience, we were able to personally experience how difficult it was to get through tasks in the absolute darkness, which seemed pretty simple in our daily lives. The experience enabled us to relate better to the challenges that others are facing, which may often seem like a miniscule matter to us, but were an issue to others. By experiencing the issues through the perspectives of the affected parties instead of simply looking at the issue through our point of view, we would be able to get better insights and understandings, compared to relying on the information on the web which we could understand but not completely be able to relate to.
Can you think of some contexts where role-playing can be useful to help discover and definition of design challenges or contribute to the development of design solutions?
I think that role-playing enables people to understand better and empathise certain issues in the world or the issues that some people might face better. Sometimes, having the knowledge about an issue is different compared to having an experience about the issue. Role-playing enables designers to implement better insights and understandings in their designs and works, which would in turn create better works to suit the cause or the needs of the intended audiences. Role-playing designs could also have a greater impact on the participants as well, e.g. Dialogue in the Dark, which enabled me to understand the challenges that the visually-impaired faces better by placing myself in their shoes. Having read information about blindness and imagining or visualising the situation was definitely different compared to the impact of “experiencing” it.
“Watch Where You Are Going” is a provocative object, aimed to raise awareness about “distracted walking”. Almost everybody are guilty of walking while distracted, yet many people seemed to think that the problem only involved others, and never themselves, as they believe that they are totally capable of multitasking, and have “never” caused an accident or disruption. Hence, the objective of our project was to put the user into the role of an unaware distracted walker, and the audience in the surrounding whom are most probably guilty of distracted walking in real life as well, into the shoes of the people whom would be affected by such actions in real life.
Why should we care?
The number of accidents caused by distracted walking are on the rise in both Singapore, and globally. These accidents does not only occur in the vehicular traffic flow ( on the roads ) but in the pedestrian traffic flow as well, and they range from minor mishaps such as bumping into a person or walking into a fountain, to more serious mishaps such as getting fractures and concussion, or even walking to your deaths.
A local survey in 2015 found out that despite 84% of the people who participated in the survey acknowledged that distracted walking is dangerous, 93% of the people admitted that they still does it anyways. Another survey in the United States found out that 74% of the participants felt that “other people” were usually or always walking while distracted, only 29% said the same about themselves, and 46% acknowledged that it was dangerous.
Many millennials felt that there are no serious consequences to walking while distracted, and that the most “serious” consequences would probably be being in an “embarrassing” situation. Most of them have the widespread belief that they are capable of multitasking while walking, and it was absolutely safe as they often look up from time to time. However, many a times, people would tend to get totally immersed in using their phones, and would often forget about looking up from time to time, as well as the surroundings altogether. Furthermore, research have proven that the human brain can never truly pay attention to more than one thing at a time, and that our peripheral vision can drop to 10% of normal when we look down at our phones while walking.
We wanted to simulate the situation at busy walkways in places such as MRT stations and Orchard Road, where there would be a high human traffic flow, and where “distracted walking” can be commonly seen at. It is in these areas that “distracted walking” tend to cause lots of disruptions and inconvenience to others.
However, as the walkways in school are wide, and we are unable to really get a crowd, we decided to cordon off half of the walkway with tapes to make the walkway smaller, and the signage to prevent people from walking at the cordoned off area. Hence, there would be higher traffic flow in the smaller walkway, and the impact of “distracted walking” would be larger – simulating the crowded and busy walkways in public, as well as the situation in areas which are cordoned off.
The user would be helped to put on the hat and the fanny pack.
The user would be handed a handphone, and would have to follow the instructions stated on the screen.
Instruction on the screen: “answer the question stated below as you walk towards the other end of the corridor”
Feedbacks & Observations from Testers & Audience:
One tester did not know that there were instructions on the phone, as the screen was on a whatsapp chat page ( the instructions were sent by a person in the chat, and the user was supposed to reply the question in the chat – mimicking texting while walking )
Cannot feel the vibration, which was supposed to annoy her
Vibrations felt ticklish / comfortable instead of annoying
Stopped midway in the walkway to take a closer look of the contents on the screen – which caused disruption behind
Cannot type properly
Able to see the reflection of the lights on the screen
Audiences were not reacting to the lights; they already know about the output
The setting was too casual
It would have been better if the people were randoms / planted
Initially, we wanted the hat to be worn by a planted person, walking through the crowds of people while using his / her phone, and occasionally stopping abruptly to mimic how people often stops walking abruptly while they are using the phone. We also wanted the person to walk and stop abruptly in front of the real distracted walkers in the crowd as well.
The brightly lit LED strip was to draw attention onto the person, and to enable people to look at what he / she was doing. It also acts as a warning for people to avoid him / her from behind – the red light lights up whenever the person is using the phone and might stop or slow down abruptly. The bright lights also enable people in the surrounding to help take note of him / her, who might walk to close to the staircase and such, and causes an accident or mishap to happen.
The provocative message, “watch where you are going”, were sewn at the back of the hat. People behind him / her might feel triggered by the message; as the wearer himself / herself was not even watching where they are going, but is telling people at the back to watch where they are going in case they were to bump into him / her. We wanted the sarcastic / ironic message to provoke thoughts and self-reflection by the people who are seeing the message – people who are probably guilty of distracted walking as well.
We decided to help the user to wear the hat and fanny pack as we did not wanted the users to trigger the output accidentally by tilting the hat when they are wearing it. We wanted them to remain oblivious to the attention grabbing output of the LED strip, as well as the provocative message at the back of the hat, to mimic how a distracted walker in real life remains oblivious to the disruptions and inconvenience that he / she was causing.
Initially, we wanted to use a photocell to prevent the false triggering, as the users might accidentally tilt the hat while they are putting the hat on. But we were unable to get the code to work despite several attempts – if the photocell works, the tilt sensor would no longer be in use. Hence, we decided to help the users to put the objects on instead to prevent the false triggerings.
We also decided to use a crowd marshal vest to relate to the idea of the flow of human traffic.
Materials Used & Steps
Vibrating coin motor
Addressable LED Strip
Cloth ( same colour as the hat )
Black duct tape
Threads ( same colour as the hat )
Embroidery threads ( vibrant colours )
Testing the angle of the tilt sensor
Testing the LED Strip & Adjusting the colours
Coding & circuit
Sew the provocative message at the back of the hat
Attach the tilt sensor and vibrating motor onto the insides of the hat
Attach the LED strip onto the hat
Tidy up the wires
Place the arduino, breadboard, and powerbank into a fanny pack.
Step 1:Testing the tilt sensor
Gauge the angle of the tilt sensor by using it to trigger a simple LED circuit.
Step 2:Testing the LED Strips and adjusting the colours
Step 3:Coding & Arranging the circuit
It took us quite some time before we are able to trigger both the LED strip and the vibrating motor at the same time using the tilt sensor.
Step 4:Sew the provocative message at the back of the hat
We used embroidery thread as they were thicker, and are in red and orange as they resembled warning colours, and are almost the same colours as the colour we have chosen for our LED light light strip.
Initially, we tried using the usual cotton / polyester thread, but it was too thin and flimsy.
Step 5:Attach the tilt sensor and vibrating motor onto the insides of the hat
The tilt sensor is sewn at the side of the hat, at 15 / 20 degrees instead of it being fully upright.
The tilt sensor and vibrating motor are first taped onto the insides of the hat to ensure that it remains in position. Sew the sides and corners of the tape to ensure that it would not come off. Use the black cloth to cover them, and sew the cloth onto the hat.
Hide the wires underneath the internal flap of the cap.
Step 6:Attach the LED strip on the exterior of the hat
Remove the tape from the back of the LED strip. Attach the LED strip onto the exterior of the hat. Then, use a black thread and sew the LED strip down onto the hat, by going around the orange / chip-like area – so that the black thread would not be blocking the light of the LED.
Sew the wires of the LED strip down onto the back of the hat. A black cloth can be overlayed and sewn over the wires to cover the colours.
Step 7:Tidy up the wires
Tie the wires tidily using fishing lines, then wrap the wires using black duct tape to make the wires look less frightening due to the amount of colours.
Step 8:Place the arduino, breadboard, and powerbank into a fanny pack
I felt that our final demo was probably too casual as well, and seemed to be rather untidy. I agree that the reactions from our peers were not very successful, as they were already aware of the outcome, and it would probably work better on people who are not familiar with the project and are unaware of the outputs. We initially wanted to do a demo video in the crowded areas in public, but eventually decided against it as we would probably seem too suspicious with the wires and all.
Nevertheless, I was rather satisfied with how our object turned out to be, and it was a fun experience trying to make something a design which implemented coding / interactive elements, and it enabled us step out of our comfort zones and try out something new.