Archives for the month of: December, 2011

For the practical assignment it was necessary to submit an accompanying presentation and written piece. As I wished to convey continuity throughout my work it was important for me that the typeface utilised for the submission was suitable, and expressive of the key word ‘geometry’. Therefore I chose a befitting typeface; Futura.

Hood, J., n.d. Futura Specimen. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Futura was developed from 1924 to 1926 before its commercial release in 1927 by Paul Renner, adhering to Bauhaus design principles.1 The typeface was commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry, it is said in reaction to Ludwig & Mayer’s Erbar, five years previous.Following Bauhaus convention, the Futura typeface features sans-serif characters abiding to the principles of the new typography and eschewing superfluous ornamentation.3

Each letterform is derived from simple geometric shapes, near perfect circles, triangles and squares. This seemed appropriate as one aspect of the practical piece was the construction of legible letterforms from many smaller components of simple geometric shapes. Furthermore the simplicity of the consistent stroke width agrees with the consistent size of the geometric components composing my final piece.

Ellen Lupton, previously acclaimed author of “Thinking with Type” indicates the geometric ‘o’ letterforms link Futura with the experiments of the Bauhaus.4 I am fond of this concept, keeping a hint of the monumental work of the Bauhaus amongst my postmodern attempts.

The original typeface was released in Light, Medium, Bold and Bold Oblique in 1928,5 and therefore I have chosen to limit myself to this original set, maintaining the original simplicity of the text originally intended throughout my annotations.

Interestingly Futura was not always popular, in 1933 it was banned in Hanover by the Lord Mayor, believed to not conform to Germanic Style.6 Despite this exception, Futura has been widely used across its lifetime and I believe will continue to do so.

Notably Futura was the first typeface on the moon, featuring on a commemorative plaque left in 1969.7

Phillips, C. H., n.d. Apollo 11 Plaque. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Futura also formed the identity for many household names, Domino’s Pizza, Absolut Vodka, and as most of us undoubtably know until recent years, Ikea.

Domino’s Pizza – Futura Condensed Extra Bold

Anon, n.d. Domino’s Pizza Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Absolut Vodka – Futura Condensed Extra Bold

Anon, n.d. Absolut Vodka Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Ikea – Futura (Various)

Anon, 2009. Ikea Catalogue. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Many were disappointed when Ikea replaced their use of Futura font with the screen-based font, Verdana. Quoted in a New York Times’ article, Ikea spokeswoman Camilla Meiby stated;

“. . . I think it’s mainly experts who have expressed their views, people who are interested in fonts. I don’t think the broad public is that interested.”8

Which brought me to consider, is it only graphic designers, focussed on typography who notice the difference, or does the non-designer relate to typeface with regards to beauty? Certainly I have felt frustrated in the past when a client is adamant that Comic Sans should be utilised as a ‘fun’ typeface, or a previous employers’ obsession with Century Gothic, but I believe everyone responds to typeface whether consciously or subconsciously. This will be explored further in a future post.

Within the New York Times article on the Ikea change, it is expressed that it is in order for Ikea to approach a more web-based angle, in which case a change of typeface is potentially appropriate, responding to needs analysis.

Finally, one of my idols, Barbara Kruger continually uses Futura within her work. The contrast between the Futura Bold Oblique and the stark images sucessfully conveys her messages, often of political, social or economic agenda.

Kruger, B., 1989. Your Body Is A Battleground. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].


1. Anon, 2011. Critical Debates in Design -task 1 : Typeface. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

2. Anon, 2011. Futura (Typeface). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

3.  Tschichold, J., 2006. The New Typography: A Handbook for Modern Designers. Translated from German by Ruari McLean. London: University of California Press. pp.52-53.

4. Lupton, E., 2009, cited by Versluis, 2011. Futura and the Dordt College Architectural Sign of 1955. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

5. Anon, 2011. Futura (Typeface). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

6. Lupton, E. and Cohen, E. L., 1996. Letters from the Avant Garde: Modern Graphic Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p.55.

7. Anon, 2009. From Nasa to Ikea: the story of the classic font Futura. The Guardian, [online] 3rd September 2009. Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

8. Meiby, C., 2009, cited in Rothstein, E., 2009. Typography fans say Ikea should stick to furniture. The New York Times, [online] 4th September 2009. Available at: <> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Following the initial submission for the practical assignment it was recommended that I further investigate geometric-based typefaces within my historical precedent.

It was disappointing that I had neglected to include the following examples in my initial investigations as they remain highly relevant, both Josef Albers’ ‘Stencil’ and Herbert Bayer’s ‘universal’ developed from within the Bauhaus, are fantastic examples of geometric-based typefaces. At a time when designers were beginning to push The New Typography, forming a basis of design suitable for the increasing economic pace of the modern world these represent the primary attempts to reduce typefaces to their essential components, removing any extraneous details and ornamentation. As Jan Tschichold, in his initial publication regarding The New Typography explains, this ornamentation is unnecessary and instead for the modernist era quickly legible and simple sans serif fonts were required.1

Josef Albers ‘Stencil’. 1925-1926.

Albers, J., 1925. Stencil Letterforms. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Within his translated essay “Albers Discussion of the Stencil Font” Albers explains how the expanding industrial world requires fast legible text for a fast moving lifestyle.2 The elegant script previously utilised was no longer appropriate for the required economy of reading, resulting in Albers developing the ‘Stencil’ typeface.

The intention of the typeface was to fill the available gap, to provide a typeface which were increasingly legible at distance. Therefore predominantly suitable for posters and billboards.3

It is made up exclusively of geometric shapes, the square, the triangle which corresponds to half the square cut diagonally and the quarter-circle, whose radius is that of the side of the square.4 This modular typeface echoes the principles of The New Typography and sought to provide legibility by reduction.

Albers sought to remove any extraneous elements of the letters, allowing them to be easily read at distance and at speed, suiting the corresponding fast-paced lifestyle.

Comparisons can be easily drawn between the work of Albers and my own initial investigations into modular typeface design, especially the construction of letters utilising only the square, triangle and circle combinations of equal size. Unlike Albers however, I restricted myself further, allowing only two of the three shapes to be utilised for each letter form.

Herbert Bayer ‘universal’. 1925.

Bayer, H., 1925. Universal Alphabet. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Herbert Bayer’s ‘universal’ type, created at the same time as Josef Albers’ ‘Stencil’, 1925, within the Bauhaus school.

Universal, conforming strictly to the principles of The New Typography features letterforms reduced to their bare essentials. Bayer removed capitals letters and serifs.5 He strove to revolutionise typography.6 Within his essay ‘On Typography’ he maintains that typeface is only the beginning of the revolution, however he aimed to lead the way with ‘universal’.

Within Universal Bayer removed the need for upper and lower cases, resulting in the one character set, each letter form from only straight lines and circles. Bayer argued that as the spoken word does not require two cases, why should the written one. Unlike Albers’ ‘stencil’, ‘universal’ does not conform to be modular.

Both Albers and Bayer, by limiting their typefaces in their geometric form and composition strove to create suitable typefaces for the modernist era. With their fundamental and unique letterforms combining both effective theory and research, they engaged and experimented with the possibilities of a The New Typography in an interesting manner, experimentation which remains relevant today.

Further Reading

anon. n.d. Thinking with Type. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].


1. Tschichold, J., 2006. The New Typography: A Handbook for Modern Designers. Translated from German by Ruari McLean. London: University of California Press.

2. Albers, J., n.d. Albers Discussion of the Stencil Font. Translated from German by David Blocher. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

3. Albers, J., n.d. Albers Discussion of the Stencil Font. Translated from German by David Blocher. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

4. Albers, J., n.d. Albers Discussion of the Stencil Font. Translated from German by David Blocher. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

5. Bayer, H., 1967. On Typography. In: Bayer, H., 1967. Herbert Bayer: Painter Designer Architect. New York: Reinhold. p.75.

6. Bayer, H., 1967. On Typography. In: Bayer, H., 1967. Herbert Bayer: Painter Designer Architect. New York: Reinhold. p.75.


During my investigation and experimentation of concealing words amongst geometric shapes, the question arose to the importance of legibility within a design, leading to exploration to the current and historic debates amongst other designers regarding this issue.

My work method involves researching the initial basic background of an idea before experimenting graphically. Following this I then investigate further into the depth of the subject. I develop solutions in this manner by having the academic background before embarking on the practical task.

The subject of legibility is one which has ben approached from alternative viewpoints by major graphic design movements. Should the communication be instantly visible, or would the idea be further implanted and hold greater meaning if the audience were required to search for it.

Within the progression of the Swiss (International) Style legibility remained key. The use of sans-serif type, grids and layouts to boost legibility were all promoted. Simple communication of the message was paramount.

With the Josef Müller-Brockmann book jacket featured below, this 1962 design focuses entirely on the conveyance of the message. There is no extraneous ornamentation and the type is set in what he believed to be the most legible fashion, suitably fitting the purpose, a type specimen book for Helvetica under its original name.

Müller-Brockmann, J., 1962. Die Neue Haas Grotesk. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Alternatively the work of the PostModernists, who aimed to break all that Modernism held dear, smashes the grid and rejects the simple lettering.

Compare the following image, by Jeffery Keedy a type specimen series for the Emigre typeface. This post-modern design contrasts that of Josef Müller-Brockmann with the composition, variety and colour.

Keedy, J., 2002. Emigre Type Specimen Series Booklet No.4: Keedy Sans. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Here the information is not immediately legible, and the audience is required to engage further with the piece in order to reveal the message.

Looking further into this, the work of Irma Boom sprung to mind, within book design she has further heightened the debate of functionality over “beauty”.

Irma Boom’s work, emerging to the forefront at the turn of the century, has been met with an array of criticism relating to its legibility.

Described initially in Eye as “nearly senseless and virtually illegible” by Teal Triggs,2 in a review of a forthcoming book in 1991, Boom’s work was initially poorly received.

See below, a promotional poster for the Jan van Eyck Akademie in 1999 a collaboration between Irma Boom and LA Raeven. This poster is in direct contradiction with the Swiss Design Theories on legibility and requires the audience to search for the words not immediately recognisable.

Boom, L. and Raeven, L., 1999. Jan van Eyck Akademie. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

In 2008 a glowing review of her work as an “internationally acclaimed book designer” for Metropolis Magazine paints an entirely different story to that over fifteen years previous, demonstrating how acceptance of new ideas has changed.3

Anon. n.d. Biography in Books. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

Irma continues to fuel the debate regarding the legibility of design; considering if clarity is more important than style. In a recent article in Eye magazines she reveals “I only recently read about Jan Tschichold’s rules for legible typography. They made me laugh, because everything I do is forbidden. Maybe if I’d learned how to use typography at art school my work would be completely different.”4 Unlike Tschichold, who dictated strict rules in order to maximise legibility with his new typography dictum, Boom follows a combination of experience and intuition within her acclaimed book design. Culminating in achieving the award for “Most Beautiful Book in the World” for her Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor at the 2007 Leipzig Book Fair her work is obviously accepted even in its most unusual format.5 It is interesting to note the attraction received from her work, which I believe is due to the interactive and unusual element, requiring the audience to engage with the work and search more for the meaning. This is something I wanted to bring into my own work, fuelled by Booms success.

Below is a talk given by Irma Boom at the Walker Art Centre in 2010, which reveals further how she tackles her work.

Irma Boom lecture at the Walker Art Centre.

Insights Design Lecture Series: Irma Boom. 2010. [online video] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].


1. Poggenphol, S.H., 1993. What is Graphic Design? [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

2. Triggs, T., 1991. Graphic Design and Typography in the Netherlands: A View of Recent Work. Eye Magazine, Issue 6 (2) [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

3. Nagler, E., 2008. Irma Boom’s Visual Testing Ground. Metropolis Magazine. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

4. Farrelly, L., 1994. Clarity and Contradiction. Eye Magazine, [online] Volume 13. Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

5. Nagler, E., 2008. Irma Boom’s Visual Testing Ground. Metropolis Magazine. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

While researching into visual cryptography I became increasingly fascinated with the subject, and sought further examples to support my forthcoming practical assignment.

Upon engaging well with a subject matter, as here with visual cryptography, I continue to delve deeper, seeking further visual examples to both explain better my intentions to tutors and fellow designers, alongside expanding my own knowledge of the subject such that I can propose a well informed and researched final piece.

Rubin’s Vase

Smithson, J., n.d. Rubin’s Vase. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

The well known above illustration is that of Rubin’s Vase, which invites the audience to view either two profile faces or a vase, leads well into the final piece as it was my intention to create a piece in which the viewer is invited to see either the words or the detail that creates them, both holding the same meaning ‘geometry’.

The Rubin’s Vase illusion, works on the principle of Gestalt Theory known as figure and ground. Gestalt theory relates to our visual perceptions, and states every stimulus is perceived in its simplest form. Here the relationship between figure and ground is ambiguous, as our perception changes between the focus of the faces or the vase. This changing figure-ground relationship was something I wanted to experiment with for the practical assignment, as I believe the ambiguity is captivating.


In addition to the optical illusion of Rubin’s Vase, I also looked at the maze. Commonly the maze is shaped into an image easily viewed from an aerial perspective, but incomprehensible while inside. This is an alternative method of hiding messages, whereby the message can only be read from one viewpoint. Again this led into the final piece, creating an image which the audience can better comprehend from one viewpoint and which remains difficult to decipher from others.

Anon. n.d. Kingston Corn Maze: Sunrise Hill Farm. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

After considering the possibility of hiding messages amongst the designs I have been creating, forming an amalgamation between type and geometry, I chose to research into the field of visual cryptography.

Forming images which can only be viewing in a certain manner is not a new technique. As many of you may remember the Magic Eye books, first appearing twenty years ago, where an image was only revealed if the reader were able to facilitate the parallel viewing technique. Beginning with a discovery by Bela Julesz alongside MacArthur Fellow in 1959 first highlighting the possibility that depth perception was a neurological process not something occurring within the eye itself as previously considered.In 1979 Christopher Tyler created the first single-image random-dot stereogram allowing the brain to see 3D shapes from 2D images. This formed the basis for the Magic Eye phenomena. Until you master the process of deciphering the stereogram within your brain you be unable to see the 3D image. Unfortunately those without stereo vision will be unable to decipher the image as it relies on the information from the two alternative viewpoints.

To reveal these single-image stereograms the viewer must train their eyes to focus beyond the image, creating a parallel viewpoint opposed to one focussed on the page. As this is not the natural focus position for the eye, the viewer will not see the image until they have managed to complete this process.

Normal Viewing Method

Anon., n.d.  Normal Viewing. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Parallel Viewing Method

Anon., n.d.  Parallel Viewing. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Example of a Magic Eye image.

Anon., 2011.  Magic Eye Image. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Those capable of mastering the parallel viewing technique will be able to reveal the image of a car.

Visual cryptography method

Originally developed by Moni Naor and Adi Shamir in 1994,2 Visual cryptography allows images and information to be decrypted by human sight. By separating the image onto two or more separate sheets it is possible to make the image impossible to decipher without having both halves of the cipher.

Anon., n.d. Visual Cryptography, [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

This method has been utilised by Kai Jauslin in their ‘Visuelle Kryptographie” project, where the image is only recognisable when the box is in the correct position. This invites the viewer to interact with the box.

Jauslin, K., n.d. Visuelle Kryptographie. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 25th November 2011].

A simpler method which many will be familiar with is that to place a red filter over the hidden image.

People are always fascinated with hidden messages, designers alike. The thrill of uncovering a secret message is engaging for the audience and this was something I wished to carry through into my design project.

Developed by Professor Shinobu Ishihara the pseudoisochromatic colour blind test is utilised on this elephant in Antwerp. Here only those not suffering from red-green colourblindness will be able to see the M on the elephants back.

Price, R., 2008. Ishihara Elephant. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

John Locke and Jackie Caradonio were experimenting with hiding text with the following image from their studio, Lioninoil.

Locke, J., and Caradonio, J., 2008. What you are looking for hidden in plain sight. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Many graphic designers also experiment with hiding hidden messages in their logo design. It is a way of engaging with the audience, providing stimulation and a reward for their effort.

Aguad, S., 2009. Toblerone Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Initially with the new design for the Museum of London the audience is likely to only appreciate the colour and flowing form. However the shapes used are not arbitary, they represent the changing shape of London throughout history.3

Porter Bell, C., 2010. Museum of London Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accesed 17th December 2011].

Optical illusions such as the image below, which revels something different at different distances is something I wanted to consider with my design. By being able to read the hidden word at some distances but not others will engage the audience.

Anon, n.d. You Are Close. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

In researching the history of visual crytpographic methods and looking at methods used by other designers to hide and reveal messages offered several alternatives to hide the message I wanted to among my design. By comparing to the work of others I am able to not only analyse which methods work effectively.


1. Anon. n.d. History of Magic Eye 3D Pictures. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

2. Wikipedia, 2011. Visual Crytography. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

3. Anon. n.d. Coley Porter Bell. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

Qubik Design, 2009. Glitch: Designing Imperfection. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 16th December 2011].

Christopher Murphy, Iman Moradi and Ant Scott.

Released in 2009 by Qubik studio, designed alongside Fehler, ‘Glitch: Designing Imperfection’ attempts to exploit the inherent beauty in deficiency.1

Aptly named, the book focuses on the glitches experienced in daily life throughout the digital world, celebrating the imperfections available when developing a system designed free from human error. The opening preface briefly describes the glitch as a “spurge of electronic current”, here responsible for over 200 prints.

Glitch begins with an introduction via question and answer sessions with Kim Cascone, O.K Parking and Angela Lorenz among others to reveal the artists intentions, experiences and opinions regarding glitches as a visual artform before providing stunning contributions including those from Cory Arcangel, David Lu, Karl Klomp and Marius Watz.

The work itself includes captured images of scrambled tv signals, html errors, system crashes and other digital convulsions. Whether accidental or provoked these glitches provide pleasing aesthetic outcomes to those willing accept them as visual art. Murphy, Moradi and Scott have successfully converted the screen based glitch to print, and by utilising a variety of arrangements retain interest, from full page prints to thumbnails for comparison.

Some will not find admiration within the abstract digital prints, failing to appreciate them as art forms and will not want to commend the efforts of artists to capture or create them. Irregardless of ones standpoint on the technological glitch as art, it remains of interest that an accidental malfunction can be manipulated by the human intention to create it.

Anon, 2009. Images from Glitch: Designing Imperfection. [electronic prints] Available at: <; [Accessed 17th December 2011].


1. Qubik, 2009. Glitch: Designing Imperfection. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17th December 2011].

The development of the final image required a decision regarding the treatment of each component. As the components are repetitive it was important to treat them in a visually pleasing and appropriate manner as they form the overall basis of the piece.

The components for the final piece are as follows;

a. Square

b. End

c. Connector

d. Welded connector

The shape of the components was decided through investigation into similar shapes and their aesthetic appeal and retaining a connection with geometry. It was intended that each component represent geometry, so that the audience could read either the word of the composition of it.

I experimented greatly with a variety of fills, colours and structures for the components of the piece. External influences and consideration came partly from the vast amount of travelling I was undertaking before the final hand-in.

Moving frequently across the country I have had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing a variety of graphic advertising styles on lorries along Britain’s motorways. Two in particular caught my attention as they illustrate the opposing treatment of components I was considering, firstly Waitrose (John Lewis) and secondly National Express.

Waitrose, 2011. Waitrose Lorry. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Waitrose, 2011. Waitrose Logo II. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Anon, 2008. National Express Lorry. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Anon, 2011. National Express Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 10th December 2011].

Waitrose, opts for a clean cut straight line logo with angles consistent with the Waitrose typeface. This approach is utilised throughout the John Lewis brand.

Opposing this National Express chose a rounded strategy, replacing all angles with smooth curves, meanwhile their lines are finished with connector components similar to my own.

It is interesting, how two very similar simple angled line components can appear entirely different by their treatment, emphasising the importance on my choice of structure for the final piece.

Ultimately I chose the rounded components, I believe the combination of these smooth modernist components sprawling vastly duplicated was the best representation of the repetition of geometry.

Later development of components

Throughout my research for the MA assignment I begun to consider the definition of graphic design. The Oxford English Dictionary describes graphic design as;

The art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books.1

– Oxford English Dictionary

Graphic design is a form of visual communication, its realm and scope succinctly explained within the following short film by Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel.

Graphic design is the most ubiquitous of all the arts.

– Jessica Helfand

Helfand, J. and Drenttel, W., n.d. Graphic Design Is. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9th December 2011].

As explained within the AIGA guide, “What is Graphic Design” the graphic designer organises the three elements; typography, image and ‘white’ space to communicate the intended message.2

However, with the increasing availability of ‘design’ software, it brings to question the importance and place of the graphic designer, leading to the current topic of debate; the DIY Designer.

Eva., 2006. Ellen Lupton: Design It Yourself. [electronic print] Available at: <; [Accessed 9th December 2011].

Many graphic designers feared the introduction Desktop Publishing would destroy the profession of graphic design. There are two opposing viewpoints in the DIY Debate, those cherishing it, claiming it removes the elitism from the discipline and making it accessible meanwhile others feel that DIY design has “saturated the market with ineffective and misguided design produced by people with little or no education in graphic design”.3

Advocates for the DIY Movement include Ellen Lupton. Within an article for the AIGA she opposes Steven Heller to outline the benefits of DIY Design and the possibilities it brings.4 I agree with her statement that the launch of desktop publishing has left everyone with a better understanding of graphic design, and therefore appreciation for the complexity of some of the work we produce.

Desktop publishing didn’t wipe out graphic design; in fact, the field got bigger, in part because the general public had gained a better understanding of design by working with tools similar to those we were using. People became more educated about design by playing around (and working) with fonts and computers.5

However I can also see the truth in Heller’s opposing argument, that by unleashing the ability to create ‘design’ to all we risk losing our professional status and therefore our credibility.

. . . I recoil when I think of mediocre designers “doing it themselves.” People should not think they are Designers because they can fiddle with type on a computer template. If people start thinking that graphic design is as easy as One, Two, Three, it will diminish designers’ authority and clients’ respect.6

Already with the wide availability of software to the general public I have noticed a change. Where before it would be necessary to see a project to print, clients are asking for the working files to ‘tweak’ things themselves. Now this leaves an awkward situation for the designer. I am a perfectionist, and the thought of handing over the working files to an amateur fills me with fear! What are they going to do to it? And will they still put my name on it afterwards; do I want to be associated with whatever they have created after it has left my hands? Owning a copy of Adobe does not make you a designer, anymore than owning a plane makes you a pilot.

And its true, since the launch of Desktop Publishing, there has been an vast increase poor design largely distributed. But pre-recession, it could have been argued that by giving unfulfilling tasks to an under-skilled amateur simply allowed better designers freedom to work on better projects. However, now jobs are tight, and highly skilled design graduates are fighting for places designing in chain print shops I believe it is time for DIY Design to stop and the economy relating to our fragile discipline boosted.

1. Oxford Dictionary, 2011. Oxford English Dictionary. London: Oxford University Press.

2. Poggenpohl, S. H., 1993. What is Graphic Design. AIGA [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9th December 2011].

3. Anon, n.d. The Macintosh Computer. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9th December 2011].

4. Lupton, E., 2006. The D.I.Y. Debate. AIGA [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9th December 2011].

5. Lupton, E., 2006. The D.I.Y. Debate. AIGA [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9th December 2011].

6. Heller, S., cited in Lupton, E., 2006. The D.I.Y. Debate. AIGA [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9th December 2011].

Naturally during the project I considered Bauhaus design theory. Throughout my Architecture degree I was acutely aware of the Bauhaus influence within art, architecture and design and for a project concentrating on geometry it seemed relevant to consider its importance today.

Moholy-Nagy, L., 1929. Bauhaus Leaflet. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

The Bauhaus, founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius would revolutionise art, architecture and design.1 The name Bauhaus is derived from German, Bauen meaning (creative) building and Haus meaning house. Literally translated as “building-house” the Bauhaus aimed to adjust our interpretation and access of the arts.2

In 1925 the Bauhaus was moved to the purpose built school at Dessau, designed by Gropius himself.

Anon, n.d. Bauhaus Dessau 1925. [electronic print] Available at: <–N4T0I/AAAAAAAAAus/eOsQ35eASJQ/s1600/Gropius%2B-%2BBauhaus%2BDessau%2B2.jpg> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

The Bauhaus flourished, students were privileged, learning from household names of Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers among others.

The Bauhaus was a beacon of hope following the devestation and destruction of the first World War. The school sought to oppose the old style Art Academy and remove the bourgeois nature clinging to the arts following the Arts and Craft movement.

Manifesto for the opening of the Bauhaus, designer Lyonel Feininger

Anon, n.d. Bauhaus Manifesto. [electronic print] Available at:<> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Bauhaus was intended to integrate the artist and the industry.

Art and technology – the new unity

This welcoming of the machine age and amalgamation of art and technology developed the beginnings of the modernist movement, from the New Typography to modernist Architecture.

Principle teaching at the Bauhaus

Anon, n.d. Bauhaus Principle Teachings. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Sadly however, the Bauhaus reign came to an end, following final closure in Dessau by the Nazis 1933 the era was over.

Miron, D., n.d. Bauhaus Dessau. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

However, the monumental Bauhaus influence continues to flourish.

No era has shaped the course of human civilization as profoundly as the 20th century, and in many ways the Bauhaus movement represents a hinge of modern history.3

– Eric Herboth

In agreement with Herboth in an article for New York: Home Design, Alexandra Lange claims the Bauhaus is still a prevailing influence throughout the design world today. Furthermore she emphasises its incredible strength, despite it functioning as a school for only fourteen years and today being almost a century old.4

The Bauhaus embraced, engaged, developed and distributed Modernism, successfully in the interim between two World Wars. The techniques taken for granted today within art, architecture and design originated from within the Bauhaus, however many do not make the connection, failing to acknowledge the influence from the masters of the Bauhaus today. Theories are used and imitated by many who may be unaware they are utilising Bauhaus ideals.

For example, many consider Ikea a place to buy ‘modern’ furniture. However do many purchasing the ever popular chair see the obvious development from Mies van der Rohe’s original Barcelona chair?

Anon, 1929. Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

MoMA, 2001. Exhibition House 1931. [extracted electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Anon, n.d. Ikea Catalogue – Poäng Chair. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

The Bauhau poster for the exhibition in Weimar, 1923, by Joost Schmidt is often replicated and the basic form duplicated today.

Schmidt, J., 1923. Bauhaus Poster. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Obviously replications are likely to occur when discussing the Bauhaus itself and exhibitions regarding its work, however many more Bauhaus influenced posters are in existence, showing the lessons from the Bauhaus have truly lived on.

Anon, 2008. Barack Obama 2008. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Anon, n.d. Android Background. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Jones, M. D., 2006. AG Ideas Poster. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Anon, 2005. Chase the Balloons : Cycling benefit poster. [electronic print] Available at: <> [Acccessed 2nd January 2012].

It would be impossible to remove the influence of the Bauhaus from our work, but this should not be regarded negatively. The Bauhaus was a great era of experimental and growth for modernism from which designers today can still learn a great deal.

Further Reading

Sack, F. and Quay, D., 1993. From Bauhaus to Font House. Eye Magazine [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Goldmann, A. J., 2009. Celebrating the Bauhaus at 90. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

MacCarthy, F., 2007. House Style. The Guardian [online] 17th November 2007. Available at: <; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].


1. Anon, 2012. Bauhaus. The Tate Glossary [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

2. MacCarthy, F., 2007. House Style. The Guardian [online] 17th November 2007. Available at: <; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

3. Herboth, E. J., 2009. The Bauhaus at MoMA. The Design Observer Group [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

4. Lange, A., 2009. We All Live in a Bauhaus. New York: Home Design [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].