Wednesday, 31 March 2010

This Morning...

Arrived in Berlin last night...was supposed to meet family here, but their flight was cancelled until 11am the next morning. But it was probably for the best as they would most likely have got bored whilst I spent over an hour in Pro Qm this morning — the most incredible design bookshop...ever. Its bursting at the seems with not just design books, but an extensive collection of weird magazines, journals and stacks of self-published stuff. I felt quite dizzy.
I ended up buying this...

I'm not quite sure where it comes from or who makes it as all the info text in the back is in another language (possibly korean? thats a complete guess) but this issue features the work of students from the Werkplaats Typografie (two year masters program in Arnhem, in the Nederlands which is actually where Marijke Cobbenhagen and Chantal Hendriksen studied incidentally, see post below).
It's very nice!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Cobbenhagen Hendriksen

One of the most inspiring visits in Amsterdam for me personally was Cobbenhagen Hendriksen. Set-up by Marijke Cobbenhagen and Chantal Hendriksen, the studio is based in a shared space in an old primary school, slightly on the outskirts of the city. It was Chantal who spoke to us when we visited, and was kind enough to give us all lots of tea to drink whilst we listened. What was most interesting was learning about some of the projects that they hadn’t been entirelly happy with on completion, and how that had happened. The work we were shown was all print based, and stood of for me because of the range of exciting and varied formats that tied perfectly into the concepts behind each project. I especially liked what they had done when presented with one of the large body of tedious reading lists from the Amsterdam School of the Arts. Instead of just setting the type in a nice little booklet and being done with it, all the information was printed in the back of a beautifully covered hardback A4 sketchbook. This then gave the students a reason to hold on to the info, a created a project in what could be done to fill the blank pages. 
Chantal also told us about her experiences working as a typography lecturer at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. This meant that she really understood how to relate to the kind of problems you experience as a design student. She reinforced the importance of doing work to please yourself, and the perils of trying to design for your tutors tastes rather that your own. 
Big thanks to her for what was a much required mid-year motivational boost — will defiantly be keeping an eye on the work that comes out of their studio in future.

(This poster hanging in their studio is made by Radim Pesko).

Amsterdam Study Trip

About a week ago, we returned home from our study trip to Amsterdam. 

We were lucky enough to visit some really amazing studios which varied from big ad agencies to much smaller business or parternships.
A lot of the most exciting peices of work we were shown by studios had been created for cultral institutions — it’s really cool that there seems to be such a high demand for this kind of work in Amsterdam, and the stuff that comes out of it always seem to be a lot more innovative than the equivelant of what you would see in the UK. We definitily got the impression that these clients were a little more prepared to take risks. Perhaps this has something to do with the same reason the Dutch have a large museum devoted to Graphic Design

The large glass fronted gallery in Breda, which is about 2 hours South of Amsterdam, houses a permanent collection showcasing 100 years of Dutch Graphic Design, as well as space for temporary exhibitons. Part of the exhibition caption reads,“A systematic and creative approach to complex information became a keystone of graphic design practice”.  It was fascinating to see how basic public information such as the telephone book, designed by Wim Crouwel, was given such care and attention and now stands alone as a beautiful peice of design, as well as being a telelphone book.

We also took a quick visit to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, to have a little look around the building. Many of the professionals we spoke to had graduated from here, and much of the students work always seems to be popping up online. I was pretty jealous of how the workshop spaces that were open to them — having  screenprinting and printmaking workshops at their disposal, all lined up along the same corridor as bookbinding and letterpress. The week we visited, the normal timetable wasn’t running, so unfortuntly we didn’t manage to meet any of the students were below are some nice examples or work we spied in the cases.