Massimo Vignelli’s philosophy in design was inspiring. I love this quote from him in the interview:
‘If we need something and we can’t find it, then we design it.’
It was such a simple idea, yet have and could lead to the creation of great designs. The usage of a standardised way of working allow modern artists (designers) to create works that are not just practical, but also of wide variety depending on the subject they want to tackle.Massimo’s idea of the terms ‘information architecture’ and ‘visual communications’ also allowed us to understand what design really means. There is now a clear shift of art as a form of self-expression to art to solve problems.
Massimo’s philosophy on quality as an attitude and a way of living is also commendable. It is also interesting to compare this idea with artworks from the past, which have never really talked about quality before, as if it is something that is established as one’s style. Having this sense of quality perhaps builds a person’s reliability in business and therefore makes design a skill that is not just beneficial to society but also in demand. This shift of the way art-making is done perhaps shaped the idea of corporate identity and branding. With that, I believe Massimo have laid the foundation to modern visual communications.
I felt overwhelmed thinking about how design have came to this point, and how weird it is that design have only existed recently. Before Constructivism, artworks are not always made for social reasons, which is a huge contrast to what we have currently where we always consider external factors in art-making in order to find it meaningful. It is funny how the world changes, and with globalisation and digital technologies, I am sure there will be more ahead of us to discover.
The first essay questioned modernism on its ideals of abstraction and universalising design. I somewhat agree with his viewpoint, as it is impossible for designs to be solve every problem in the world. Yet, this very idea push designers to look beyond what is physically possible, and push designers to consider every aspects of their design to be as universal as possible. Certainly, though, the movement could have taken on a better viewpoint rather than its cold take on design. Design do require at least a slight bit of human touch, rather than cold and harsh rules. Nonetheless, Modernism do developed an interesting style that speaks of itself and its time that I feel was necessary for the movement of history.
The second essay got me questioning if we would be able to still do design without going through the training required of us. I feel that the idea of setting rules and guides for designers is an interesting step towards the future during Modernism. Together with proper training, designers could grasp, or even master both the technical skills and creative thought process. I feel that the existence of Modernism have brought upon a greater good than what it may seem to be. Without it, design would be so out of reach for people, it would have probably not evolved to what it is now.
The third essay talks about the evolution of Modernism where designers start inputting their own creativity into the designs. Designers are more interested in visual communications and problem solving, which turns design into a more personalised process.
Modernism, despite its extreme viewpoint, is an essential step in history for designers to realise they are part engineer, part artist. The rules guide the designer, and the designers add their own personality and creativity into their designs. Design is able to reach its current state now because of Modernism. However, I feel that design is still evolving. Who knows, we can be the next person to start a movement to evolve design further into something greater?
My favourite (amongst all the given choices) would be Futurism. Despite its questionable political influences, I really appreciate the shift in depicting motion in a 2D canvas. This is probably something that was never really done before at that time, and I was fascinated by how artists are able to suggest the idea of motion with just shapes and strokes that we take for granted today.
My favourite piece is Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by Giacomo Balla. This adorable painting caught my eye because fast doggo the artist have successfully depicted motion using blurred strokes of the moving body parts that rotates from their respective turning points that we take for granted nowadays (in animations or cartoons). This is, to me, a forward-thinking way of depicting something 4-dimensional into a 2D canvas. The use of such technique have also allowed us to imagine the speed of the motion. Lastly, the painting also expressed a calm yet energetic feel, which makes the contrast in the painting so great and captivating for me.
My life as a Singaporean was very stale up until university where I start to get exposed to external influences (such as modern artists, Instagram artists, etc) as a result of my studies. It was only after mixing around with an interesting cohort of people and professors that got me seeing the world differently. I feel like I have always been living in a shell, indulging in my own local culture. I therefore created this Bauhaus-inspired art piece, constructed out of circles, squares, and a triangle to reflect on my thoughts on external influences of Singaporeans.
I given the colour blue to the triangle, the coloured red to the circle, and the colour yellow to the square. This is a reference to the action of pouring water into Maggi mee.
The blue triangle represents water, which is external influence that seems invisible to the eye most of the time, but is essential for cooking the maggi mee.
The red circles represents the soup of the Maggi mee, which is only best eaten when mixed with water. It also represents Singapore. Once water is added into the soup, the maggi mee will have the best flavour — not too salty, not too bland. This also shows how it is unhealthy for Singaporeans to stay too indulged in our own bubble.
The yellow squares represents the noodles, which are dark at the edge, light when closer to the middle of the circle. This also represent Singaporeans, and how the noodles are inedible without the addition of water.
The blue triangle draws the eye towards the circle, and the yellow square leads the eye which spirals into the center of the circle. As we go deeper into the circle, the circle gets darker, creating a sense of depth. I also tried to make the composition as minimal, and also avoided any warping or rotating of the shapes so as to keep them true to what they are.
I went out to Punggol Waterway Park and found these patterns in nature.
This green leaves are connected together and look very lively, which reminds me of Singapore as a country that is united and also active. I picture the individual leaves as a little person, all connected together into a bigger bunch. The leaves are also healthy and un-damaged, which made me thought of them as young, which is also a reflection of how I view Singapore.
This tree bark patterns are very flowy and have a lot of action going on in there, which also supported by view of Singaporeans being active and constantly on the move. The upward direction of the wavy pattern also reminds me of the country’s growth as a young nation.
With the first image, I traced and took a part of the bunch and repeated them to form a symmetrical lion, depicting Singapore. I like how the leaves at the bottom created the teeth of the lion.
The next image, I traced over using pencil and then coloured it in with Illustrator to create this part of the tree bark. I then use it to form a tree that covers the front of the ‘lion’.
As I tried to make the image more dynamic, I realised I can use the branch to form the silhouette of Singapore in the negative space. Overall, this composition represents Singapore as an active and young nation that still growing. The arrangement also made it seems like the lion is looking directly onto the silhouette, which also represents how we are still watching ourselves and shaping ourselves. The colour I chose are closer to the natural colours, and I try to make it vibrant to reflect the youthfulness of our country.