Archives for posts with tag: Bauhaus

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: <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/FuturaSP.png> [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: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2009/sep/02/ikea-font-futura#/?picture=352456573&index=2> [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: <http://projectupdate.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/dominos.gif> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Absolut Vodka – Futura Condensed Extra Bold

Anon, n.d. Absolut Vodka Logo. [electronic print] Available at: <http://blog-cache6.webink.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/absolut_vodka.jpg> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

Ikea – Futura (Various)

Anon, 2009. Ikea Catalogue. [electronic print] Available at: <http://manolohome.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/ikea-catalogue.jpg> [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: <http://fontsinuse.com/uploads/2010/10/body-is-a-battleground.jpg> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

References

1. Anon, 2011. Critical Debates in Design -task 1 : Typeface. [online] Available at: <http://youcouldbeatable.blogspot.com/2011/02/typeface.html> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

2. Anon, 2011. Futura (Typeface). [online] Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futura_(typeface)> [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: <http://dcaiga.blogspot.com/2011/09/futura-and-dordt-college-architectural.html> [Accessed 27th December 2011].

5. Anon, 2011. Futura (Typeface). [online] Available at: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futura_(typeface)> [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: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2009/sep/02/ikea-font-futura#/?picture=352473558&index=0> [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: <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/05/arts/design/05ikea.html?pagewanted=all> [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: <http://xxdesign.kesor.net/movement/img/bauhaus_013.jpg> [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: <http://wharferj.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/bayer_6.jpg> [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: <http://papress.com/thinkingwithtype/teachers/type_lecture/history_bayer.htm> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

References

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: <http://art.yale.edu/Art468a> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

3. Albers, J., n.d. Albers Discussion of the Stencil Font. Translated from German by David Blocher. [online] Available at: <http://art.yale.edu/Art468a> [Accessed 18th December 2011].

4. Albers, J., n.d. Albers Discussion of the Stencil Font. Translated from German by David Blocher. [online] Available at: <http://art.yale.edu/Art468a> [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.

 

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: <http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1242/1233921454_62709b36db_o.png> [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: <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_LJHBrB752xY/TU64–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:<http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_lok7bf4nDJ1qcjrxyo1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6IHWSU3BX3X7X3Q&Expires=1325937784&Signature=6YQjRsHARTq70Vw4CXopJ7%2FJSHo%3D> [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: <http://www.gardenvisit.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/image001.jpg> [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: <http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4144/4844930462_19bb7b442a_b.jpg> [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: <http://www.pamkelley.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/mies-van-der-rohe.jpg?w=300> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

MoMA, 2001. Exhibition House 1931. [extracted electronic print] Available at: <http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2001/mies/> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Anon, n.d. Ikea Catalogue – Poäng Chair. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/images/products/poang-armchair__46190_PE142932_S4.jpg> [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: <http://interdisciplinaryleeds.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/10-bauhaus-plakat-1923.jpg> [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: <http://www.gardenvisit.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/image001.jpg> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Anon, n.d. Android Background. [electronic print] Available at: <http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_GsJ0PZjfZPw/SPjFXaeK0XI/AAAAAAAAA8M/Rmq7xvJtNIE/s400/AndroidBackground1.jpg> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Jones, M. D., 2006. AG Ideas Poster. [electronic print] Available at: <http://matthewdjones.deviantart.com/art/AG-Ideas-Poster-Bauhaus-esq-55633881> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Anon, 2005. Chase the Balloons : Cycling benefit poster. [electronic print] Available at: <http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3262/3168007296_fc933def4e_o.jpg> [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: <http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature.php?id=44&fid=353&gt; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Goldmann, A. J., 2009. Celebrating the Bauhaus at 90. [online] Available at: <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204619004574318681640232164.html&gt; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

MacCarthy, F., 2007. House Style. The Guardian [online] 17th November 2007. Available at: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/nov/17/architecture.art&gt; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

References

1. Anon, 2012. Bauhaus. The Tate Glossary [online] Available at: <http://www.tate.org.uk/collections/glossary/definition.jsp?entryId=40&gt; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

2. MacCarthy, F., 2007. House Style. The Guardian [online] 17th November 2007. Available at: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/nov/17/architecture.art&gt; [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

3. Herboth, E. J., 2009. The Bauhaus at MoMA. The Design Observer Group [online] Available at: <http://observatory.designobserver.com/entry.html?entry=11807> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

4. Lange, A., 2009. We All Live in a Bauhaus. New York: Home Design [online] Available at: <http://nymag.com/homedesign/features/61726/> [Accessed 2nd January 2012].

Following my investigations into modern geometric precedent, I decided the next step was to begin experimenting with the relationship of geometry and type, therefore the use of geometry within letter forms.

As previously detailed, I prefer to work in a manner by which I assess the previous foundation for my experimentation to ensure I can build upon the discoveries of other designers and also prevent repetition.

Firstly using the primary geometric shapes (circle, square and triangle) a task was undertaken to create each letter form using only these shapes. I set myself this task to investigate the legibility of letterforms and the scope for geometric letters using a strict set of rules.

This combination of geometric shapes naturally takes precedent from the Bauhaus [as further explained in Influences – Geometric Type II] and I also intended to create a complimentary piece to that of Wete’s Roke 1984, however unlike Wete conforming to strict rules in order and focussing on the geometric shapes themselves opposed to the transformations.

Initially a physical model was utilised, formed from translucent plastic in order to view the overlapping forms.

This was then transferred into a digital format.

Letter forms were created from overlapping translucent equally sized shapes. Two shapes were required to create each letter form, the shapes may be the same however the colour may not in order to retain the required contrast.

The end result was one of abstract letter forms, similar to the Science Museum Logo they are initially difficult to read. This explored the possibility of forming letters from the minimum possible geometric shapes.

I was interested in the idea of forming letter forms from the smallest geometric shapes. Something I would like to investigate within my final piece, the possibility of break letters down, or forming them from the smallest, simplest components.

Following this letters formed from a variety of different sized primary geometric elements were investigated. Influenced again by the Bauhaus approach to utilising simple geometric forms to create characters sets and the previously mentioned Lego am and Lego pm project. Using a variety of techniques and rules to experiment it was interesting to observe how letter forms can be seen in abstract shapes.

Following these primary investigations I decided I wanted to progress in the direction of forming a complete word from smaller geometric shapes, following more complex rules than those initially investigated here.