Friday, 18 May 2012


Some work that I've picked out of experimental jet set to get some inspiration:
Miltos Manetas
Neen Manifesto posterIn the beginning of 2006, artist Miltos Manetas asked us to design a poster containing one of his manifestos. This poster would be hanging on the streets of Milan, during the exhibition that Miltos Manetas was curating at Galleria Pack in Milan, Italy. Running from March 15 to April 15, 2006, the exhibition was titled SuperNeen, named after Neen, one of Miltos' signature art movements. The manifesto Miltos asked us to use on the poster was called 'A Few Things I Know About Neen' (obviously referring to Godard's "Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle", a movie from 1967).We liked this idea, of designing a poster that would serve as a manifesto, hanging in the streets of a city. We kept the design pretty simple, to let the poster really function as an announcement, as a wall newspaper.We turned the bilinguality of the poster into the main pictorial element. By making the English text red and the Italian text blue, we tried to create a striking graphic contrast, while we also mixed the English title with the Italian title, creating an abstract wordplay that filled half of the poster. 

It's interesting, when we show the Neen Manifesto poster in our own exhibitions, people sometimes come up to us assuming that we wrote the manifesto, or at least agree with it, which is not necessarily the case. The fact that we turned Miltos' manifesto into a poster doesn't automatically mean we endorse every word of it. What we do endorse, however, is this whole spirit of posting manifestos and slogans in the street, and if we can help Miltos with that, we will be happy to do that. In other words: Miltos' message is contained in the literal meaning of this specific manifesto, while our own message is contained in the design of the poster, in supporting the general concept of the printed manifesto itself.

Would you consider yourselves to be modernists?

That totally depends on the definition of modernism one employs. For example, there's the idea of modernism as a very defined, historical classification, starting, let's say, in the 1850's, peaking around 1910, and rapidly fading away after that. That's quite a feasible definition.
Another definition would be the more Habermasian idea of modernism, as something yet to be fulfilled, linked to the notion of modernity as a project that started with the Enlightment. That's also a very plausible definition.
In between these two definitions, there are hundreds of others. And since we are torn between all of them, it's quite difficult for us to answer this question.

What we do know though, is that we aren't functionalists (in the traditional sense of the word), as we aren't really interested in the 'narrow' definition of the word 'function'.
To us, a chair isn't simply something to just sit on; it also functions as the embodiment of a certain way of thinking. This 'broad' definition of function is actually closer to early modernism than to late modernism.
To give a simple example of this, in the brilliant 'Theory and Design in the First Machine Age', Reyner Banham shows that Rietveld's arm-chair is in fact a highly symbolic structure. The design of the chair cannot be simply justified as being 'functional'; the chair is also a statement about the infinity of space. This is something we're quite interested in: the function of design as an embodiment of ideology. 

Who or what has had the most influence over your work / who is your design hero? Is it Wim Crouwel, or is there someone who’s been even more influential? Why?
Obviously, Wim Crouwel has been a real influential figure – not just Wim Crouwel, but that whole generation of Dutch late-modernist graphic designers (Ben Bos, Benno Wissing, etc.). In many ways, they shaped the Netherlands of the ’70s in which we grew up as kids. The postal stamps, the telephone books, the school atlases: they were all designed by Total Design and like-minded studios. So we are really products of that particular graphic environment. And as a consequence, we regard this whole language of late-modernism as our mother tongue, as our authentic dialect. It is the language in which we have been brought up, so we now see it as our right, maybe even as our duty, to explore it, to expand it, to interpret it in our own way, and to tell our own stories with it. Above all, we see it as an authentic way of expressing ourselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment