In the first reading, we have renowned designer Massimo Vignelli engage the readers with his philosophies of graphic design and what he felt the term ‘graphic designer’ entails. I enjoy his understanding of a graphic designer to be one in which engineers and structures information, giving our work both form and function. This ideal ties in well with Modernism ideals, whereby form should follow function, as similar to our actions, our designs should have a purpose as well.
We can see that his designs are extremely functional and timeless, which many graphic designers fail to see the importance of. Sure, a visually pleasing design is able to capture attention, but if it fails to convey a message, is the purpose of the design lost? As what Massimo Vignelli said, “the most effective design is positioned in the centre between progressiveness and conservatism.” I would consider timeless designs to be the ultimate goal of a designer as it would mean that as an individual, they have managed to create something with lasting form and function for the masses.
Beyond leaving a legacy I feel that Massimo Vignelli truly a humbled individual as he does not see himself as a revolutionary, instead, he seeks to push the design community as a whole, striving for a healthier culture of design, one that is imbued with passion, curiosity and meaning. More than often, due to how much the market is determining what designers are producing, such as campaign ads and advertisement posters, our sense of aesthetics and purpose is slowly being diluted and we are losing the aspect of having a visual identity.
In the first excerpt, Modernism is a design principle based upon function over form. The author paints modernism in a way which seems it is the utopian design principle, whereby it is stripped of any social or political biase-ness and it is fundamentally pure. While this may be true for the author, I feel that the era in which modernism was birthed from was a direct result of political influence. The detachment from politics due to war is in itself an irony as the ideal aims to object to the use of art for persuasion.
Modernism is also explained to be void of any resemblence to nature and our surroundings. The author proclaims how myopic this view is as there are such strong emotions which can be derived from nature, mainly eroticism. However, there is so much more to emotions than pure lust. While most forms can be reduced to basic geometric shapes, we are erroding its essense of life by simplifying its complexity. Emotions of comfort, anger, happiness… all are dulled by the use of rigid geometric structures.
Modernism as a design ideal worked well for furniture design as well as architecture due to their need for functionality and usability. However, if the same ideas are forced upon graphic design, it completely changes the meaning behind creating something purely for visual aesthetics. The same limits which are bound to physical objects such as weight, materials or structure do not apply for graphic design. You are free to create to your heart’s content, using any medium, any thickness of strokes.
It all lies within your capacity to create, which is why art nouveau as a movement was so popular. It did not limit the creative expressions of individuals, instead, encouraged creatives to look beyond their world, into mother nature for her years of refining her aesthetics.
This collaged art stood out strongly as I have always found surrealistic art to be visually intriguing and highly abstracted. This is one huge contributing factor that made me pick this piece. Hausmann, the artist, expressed his disapproving views through a photomontage which strongly reflected the properties of DADA movement.
Unorganized forms of photographs and prints were positioned in a perceptibly chaotic fashion successfully expressed his attempt to challenge the idea of what “Fine Art” means. It was said that Hausmann supported “new and different forms of art” and he “did not like the bias of critics toward the traditional styles”.
With an aim to prove that the socially and culturally accepted forms of art aren’t the only style artists should be susceptible to, he advocates the idea of a “non-conformist” through the use of this photomontage. The idea behind his oddly clashing colours used in the background clearly enhanced his point.
Also, the physically disproportionate being with an oversize head undermined the common perception of human anatomy. The entirety of this piece wholesomely reflected the extremely satirical and nonsensical aspect of DADA movement. Decoding a DADA art piece allow users to put themselves into the artist’s shoe and think – regardless if it is on subject matter or symbols. These are used to create meaning in their work. DADA ROCKS. THE AMBIGUITY IS LOVED.
What comes to mind when you first look at the curated image above? Kandinsky, a renowned abstract painter, proposed a correspondence theory that suggests an association between primary colours (red, blue, yellow) and shapes. Though it was highly opposed and challenged by many, his argument states that “the correspondence between colours and shapes was mediated by an inherent relationship between the colours and angles of the shapes”.
With relevance to Kandinsky’s theory, I came up with an abstract spread with an aim to represent our local culture’s independent and un-interfered sense of art direction. Singapore has been dubbed as the country “where east meets west”, and with it being a multi-cultural country, we are dynamic and unique in our ways.
Just like the dish rojak, the local design scene focused heavily on the portrayal of multiculturalism – one that embeds on the uniqueness of the ethnic and racial groups. The art scene locally is a sui generis representation that integrated many relatable aspects to represent our nation as a whole. Hence to say, we are the determinator of our own art direction and design sense.
In the design layout above, while staying true to Kadinsky’s shape colour theory, the deep pink square in the middle symbolism our nation and the blue circle in the background represents an “uninterrupted design style” which we hold true to. Last but not least, the yellow triangle serves as the recurring trend around the world. I reduced the opacity level of two overlapping triangles and this is to show that we are not swayed by outside influence.
Drawing inspiration from organic free-forms found in the scapes of nature, this frame caught my attention. It reflects a strong contrast against rectilinear shapes derived from man-made objects in the vicinity. The elegant curves of the vines form an organic composition, similar to the fluidity of human motion – unlike the grayscale landscape in which this object resides. Art Nouveau primarily aims to deviate away from machine-like compositions to focus more on the forms demonstrated in flora & fauna.
Some other interesting compositions that caught my eyes along the sidewalks of NTU – Something I failed to notice amidst my busy schedule.
A R T N O U V E A U I S E V E R Y W H E R E