Tuesday, 14 January 2014


modernism - form follows function 

An exhibition that explores the history of some of the most iconic graphic design to come out of the twentieth century, from Mr. Beck's influential tube map to the modernist architecture of Charles Holden. 

The Design and Industries Association (The DIA) with Frank Pick being a key member, set out to reconcile the ideas of Ruskin and Morris to the machine age by integrating art with industry, commerce and education.  The DIA principles:

'It is necessary first to convince the public that art is an integral part of life, and not a mere ornamental excrescence upon its surface, and secondly to remind artists their own responsibilities to the public.  The artist must be disabused of the notion that great works of art are produced by the aesthetic emotion alone.  This has never happened in the past, and it is not likely to happen now...The best are of our day is certainly what used to be called 'applied' art.'

Picks environmental determinism and his desire for a new spiritual communality, he felt the transport system could provide a foundation for 'a higher corporate life.'

'I see quite clearly transport, the foundation of success in its realisation...I see quite clearly too that a religion must be another of the foundations...It is a new religion, however, or a fresh blossoming, at any rate, of the old.  It is a religion for city dwellers.  There are still other foundations which must be laid, if we are to build a habitable city: habitable both for the body and the mind of man.  Our most grievous drawback is that we lack the prophetic fervour of John thinking in London.'

that the city which we build must be fit for trade, for government, for traffic, for social intercourse; second that soundness in workmanship and materials will compel beauty out of a craftsmen, that a city of good bricks or good stone well laid and well dressed will be a shell which will attract the graces of ornament; third, that ornament shall cost effort and money, and so shall be of value; that a city shall not be covered in cheap ornament, anymore than a person with cheap jewellery; that the ornament shall be employed sparingly to emphasise that which is worth emphasis, and not to set up a competition of building with building which eventually destroys all emphasis and with it all meaning; fourth, that the material should be respected and should be rightly treated, that the city should choose an architecture of brick or stone or steel and concrete which will announce itself, which will allow of the right handling of the material; fifth, thats there shall be orderliness and proportion in all things, that the parts of the city shall fit together, that one part shall not conflict with another part.  It is useless to seek for beauty, but if you seek after these principles, we believe beauty will be added onto you, the beauty that is truly yours, and not the beauty that is borrowed or copied from another.

I have researched some modernist style designs to apply to my own designs for the exhibition, at first I wanted to design all the material for the exhibition in the London underground style, however I feel that would of looked too much like a product of the London Undergrounds branding - with not much of my own style input.  Because part of the theory is an area of modernism I have decided to base the designs on a modernist style but still representative of the London Underground.  I also feel this kind of style will depict the design values and principles Pick believed in.

I like this simple style of design, I think something like this could work for promotional poster designs for the exhibition.  Originally I was thinking about using the Johnston typeface that is used on the tube, however, I think that will look too similar to the Undergrounds branding and the exhibition needs to have its individual modernist style, supporting Picks design values and theories .  I think an appropriate typeface to use would be something like Helvetic Neue Bold, striking, simple and very modernist.

I will still use the Johnston typeface for the exhibition logo as I think that needs to be in keeping with the branding.

A similar design, type heavy which I think is something that could work for designs inside the exhibition.  I think a colour scheme similar to this would work well for the branding of the exhibition as some of those colours, slightly altered, resemble similar ones from the first design of the roundel and imagery.  For the logo it will be a design from the original time period of when the branding was still coming together because I think this will show a progression/journey of design whilst still maintaining the proof of the design being successful, through the timeless design lasting (bar a few amendments and alterations.)
This is very fitting for a simplistic design idea as this was a value that was very important to the Design and Industries Association, something that Pick swore by.  It is a big part of the modernist movement and so including this quote within the designs will not only be relevant to Pick and the design but also to the movement of modernism which is an aspect of design that influenced the London Underground in quite a big way.
Interesting yet simple type and image lay out, I think using images of Frank Pick and other members of the DIA could be a nice aesthetic for the branding of the exhibition.  I also think Pick is a very important, key figure in the whole development of the London Undergrounds design and marketing and is not actually recognised enough.  This would be a way of paying tribute to Pick as it celebrates the London Underground's classic designs,  there is no face better to represent the success of the London Undergrounds design than Frank Pick.
This is the kind of style I would like to imitate when designing the DIA's manifesto for the exhibition.  This is an exhibition focusing on the designs of the Underground but looking at the beliefs and theory behind it and so I think it is a vital part of the exhibition to know the values and thoughts of the man and the group that helped shape the London Underground and contributed to the style of London as a city.

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