Form, Material, Shape – The Ulm Simplicity

An exhibition review

The Ulm Model
Raven Row
56 Artillery Lane
LONDON E1 7LS
Through Nov. 7

The Ulm model is the latest exhibition in the Raven Row gallery, the entry is free and it’ll be open until the 18th of December.

The “The Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG)” was founded by Inge Scholl and Otl Aicher in Ulm, Southern Germany during 1946, it’s one of the world’s most important contemporary design academies.

Upon arrival to the gallery, it’s noticeable how tiny the text on the building is. It’s legible but not the most distinctive feature to look for in the distance when trying to find it. It’s a part of the style as you come to realize stepping into the gallery and taking a look at the minimal leaflets and signs on the doors.

On the first floor, one will see is an amazing stackable table wear by Hans Roerich and work from other students who had attended this academy (during the 50’s and 60’s), mainly works of Hans Von Klier. At first glance, the works showcased can seem abstract, the diploma projects look definitely ahead of its time.

Objects were placed very symmetrically next to the diploma projects, they were visually pleasing to look at. Each had its own function, like an ash tray or a file-card box. They seem very modern, with variety in heights, shapes, and form.

A great Braun product collection which was presented in the Dusseldorf Radio Exhibition was also to be seen, Complete with its exhibition panel. Certainly gets you back in time with the popular 70’s wood finish on electronics.

As you go upstairs you notice you are going into a victorian house setting rather than the open space studio on the ground floor. The objects on the second floor were mostly metal.

The third floor was when I’ve seen colourful exhibits, typography and everyday utilities which blend in the environment.

People looking to learn more about the history of the Ulm might be disappointed, the gallery focuses more on the student work, the design, and materials, and they should because it’s amazing and part of the academy’s reputation. The only political and historic exhibit is shut between two doors, it’s a short film on two CRT televisions about the demonstration during 1967. This is the only political exhibit you can find and it is quite tucked away from the product designs you see. Luckily the leaflets have a lot of information about tutors, events, and the city which the academy was built in.

Raven Row’s lighting was great for photography throughout all three floors that the exhibition was set on, the experience transitioned between open halls and small rooms, and it kept guiding you as one kept appearing from the corridor, probably implying that you should let curiosity guide you . It’s a little short, but the use of different materials in such a modern and simplistic way will make you tour the gallery twice.

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Book Review – Kinfolk – The Design Issue

I’ve decided to review this magazine because it’s very relevant to the theories I am learning at the moment. It focuses on shapes, grids, functions and the concept of what makes a good design. It also communicates examples with a variety of interesting photography.

Kinfolk is a lifestyle magazine that gives you tips on how to bring a more creative vibe within your life, as well as explaining the concept of “slow life”.

The set of colours and layout of the magazine looks very modern with its flat shapes. It’s surprising to see how well a serif typeface can look good on something other than a newspaper.

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There are also a series of interviews about people within the design industry. In those particular interviews the person gives their background story and some advice.

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Their photographs are usually with a specific filter which can be almost like a signature to them. They are usually very structured and grid based. I think this type of photography is quite trendy nowadays.

Click HERE for an example

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Design is a type of communication. It’s about the way an object or idea speaks to it’s audience. But good design not only gets it’s message across, it also engages us in a conversation.

The Design Issue

At the back of the magazine, there is a quote about defining design.  It just made me remember how we were told to explain it in the first week, so it’s also one of the reasons I’ve chosen to review this particular magazine.

I think that it will be a great source for me to keep coming back on and get inspired from too.

Object Discussion

For this assignment, we were asked to bring something that is important and meaningful to us. I chose a vinyl toy that I made during my final year of College for a final major project, you can find more information regarding this project on this blog by clicking HERE

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The whole idea comes from a folk festival from my native country, but this isn’t the only reason why I’ve chosen it as my object. I’ve always had a big interest in designing vinyl toys, making my first one felt like taking a small step into the right path. Encountering those mistakes and trying to finish it all within the deadline was also a big part of the experience.

we had to discuss our objects within a group of two, and I think I found it easier to be able to discuss my work from the previous group discussions that we did.


Later on, we all picked up a book and had to write about it. I was the last one to come around the table and I was surprised nobody picked the one I did as it was very influencing and creative.

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it’s shape and the cover does make it stand out quite a lot from the others. It’s a Design book created to inspire and teach the basic concepts of design as well as the journey towards developing it.

At the top left of the cover, there’s a red smudge on the edge. The book also has it’s title embossed making the front very minimalistic and visually pleasing.

One thing that I didn’t like about this book is the typeface, I personally always prefer Helvetica as it’s quite effective, modern and a multi-platform friendly typeface. This font looks a little too big and stretched.

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But what really got my attention is this simple but effective explanation about delivering your client’s work. We see a smile with the text about what follows after your work is approved, but if we flip the book we see a frowny face with the text of what is the best route to take if a client has not approved your work yet.

The Gestalt Theory – Point, Line & Form

What is Gestalt Theory?

In this session, we were introduced to an interesting theory called “Gestalt Theory” developed by a german psychologist in the 1920s . It’s a theory with a series of principles that allow us to predict how the viewers respond to design.


Gestalt Principles

  • Law of Similarity – Items that are similar to one another are often being grouped by your brain it’s a natural pattern that your brain notices, here’s an example:

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In this example of triangles and circles your brain creates, or rather notices a vertical pattern consisting of triangles and circles, the brain naturally organizes it in vertical columns rather than long horizontal columns.

  • Law of Prägnanz – This law explains how our brain reduces certain shapes within a complex bigger shape into a more simple form.  It reminds me of how most artists often see something before they draw it, simplifying a visually complex object.

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  • Law of Proximity – Having a closer object next to one groups them together. Space separates certain objects especially when there is a closer object near the other, the brain automatically groups the shapes with the smallest distance to one another thus forming them together.

 

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  • Law of Good Continuation – Your brain notices which lines are continuous and naturally follows it no matter what colour it is thus putting other lines into a separate category, and the example shows exactly how the use of continuity can be a more powerful guide than colour.

 

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  • Law of Closure – The brain naturally fills negative space, missing information creating a shape or an image by grouping objects together.

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In this example, we see how the brain fills the negative space creating a cube shape object even though it’s not there.


Pareidolia

Pareidolia is a pattern recognition in the brain, it’s when our imagination forms a group of objects into one image (for example of an animal or a person etc.). Personally, I’ve always been able to just see more than just a crack in the ceiling or a cloud in the sky, just as how some Americans end up on the news for “spotting the image of Jesus” on a Cheetos. I’ve encountered it throughout my life yet I didn’t know the definition of it up until this point, and I’m glad I acquired the knowledge as I can explain it to someone more briefly.

For my examples, I have decided to include Jesus “appearings” to further help understand the Pareidolia.

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Here we see virgin mary holding baby Jesus. For some who may not know, Cheetos are cheese-flavored puffs. It’s pretty rare to see a puff shaped like Jesus. I just hope it’s not just me that see it.

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Here we see Jesus on Marmite. The marmite on the lid that looks like him, that is.

and one example just for the sake of diversity.

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I wonder if the designer of this sink had an image in mind because it certainly does look like a face that is a little confused or rather, a blank expression.  I don’t really need imagination for this one as it covers all the basic shapes of the face, making the image inevitable to overlook.


Workshop – Point, Line & Form

Understanding grids has been something that I personally have overlooked, it just wasn’t interesting to me during college and I felt a little limited with it. But to be honest this workshop did spark an interest in understanding more about them. Their function serves a great purpose not just in books and magazines but in buildings, roads, fields etc. Pretty much everything is dependent on a certain grid to be measured, build or to have a function.

I’ve come across great book layouts that are simplistic and at the same dynamic with so much going on. The examples in the workshop did make me remember aspects within the subject that I was taught before, and I think if I want to develop something whether it’s just a logo or a full page layout I need to learn the fundamentals in order to make the best use of it.

Workshop Objective:

What we had to do might seem simple at first, it was to cut out a few pieces of text using a scalpel and glue the text, header, and shape in different layout styles (I believe we were told to aim at 8 layouts) all at 200 mm.

As I heard this I began to quickly sketch small scamps and plan ahead of what I’ll be doing.

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After the sketching I began to cut out the shapes and trying to position then within a visually pleasing way, I must say that it really was harder than I thought. I think I should practice more on this as I wasn’t exactly pleased with my effort.

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Attempts at placing the layouts.

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I thought a constructivist-inspired alignment would be a nice addition to my attempts. I like how the text goes in a zig-zag way around the page and how the dot is there to keep balance as the header is too bold and big.

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The second attempt at the same style, this time including a lighter san-serif font and placing the circle next the text to drive more attention into it.

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I decided to experiment more and see if a title placed vertically would be effective enough to work. It’s also aligned with the dot.

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I personally like this one more than the others. I like how aligned the header, dot, text and date are. It’s so structured and minimal and it makes me wish I experimented more into that sort of style.

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Again, not really something I like, but as the objective of this workshop was to experiment I believe I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried to create something that I never have. Looking at it now I think I could have aligned the text with the title, possibly position the circle more towards the vertical header.

It’s good to keep track of certain mistakes as I could work on them and develop better work in the future.

 

Voices & Authorship – Workshop group work

In this workshop, we were introduced to the library and all the available resources that come with it, later on, there was a discussion of the different ways a person can gather information for research. It is quite important to know on which information to rely on, and so the whole point of the group work, in my opinion, is to exactly clear that out for future projects and briefs.

For the objective, a variety of information resources were given to us to make up which is more reliable and why. It was up to us to put them in the right order that we think is right.

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Our group has picked the research order in the way shown in the picture. I’ll explain a little bit about why and my personal opinion regarding this.


  • Academic Journal Article – Most reliable source for research, it’s based on facts and is preferable by tutors due to the fact that the information is being written by people with trustful reputation and background, making it easier to quote him/her rather than an anonymous internet comment.
  • Book – Very reliable as well, a good way to research a certain topic, in a way, it’s safer to quote certain aspects from books rather than online information.
  • Magazine Article – A niche specific magazine related to the topic of your research is of good use as it reflects the voice of a community interested in the subject.
  • Newspaper article – Good way to look at a certain subject in the perspective of the mainstream media, helpful but not reliable on its own.
  • Wikipedia – Helpful yet misleading at times due to the liberty of the site allowing everyone to participate and edit information which might not always be accurate or true.
  • Blog post/Tweet – I have decided to put both of these as it’s quite debatable which one is more reliable than the other, and since they both are social medias it’s only fair that they are labelled as a similar resource. Great for hearing a different opinion on the matter of the subject.

What do you expect from GMD? – Another Brainstorming

This question might seem pretty easy, I’m pretty confident as to why I have joined this university but it might be harder to describe it besides the usual “because I want to improve my skill” sentence people give.

The activity was in groups as the previous one and  it’s interesting to hear how similar the answers are and how every student expects to be challenged, to the point that they write something motivational and encouraging.

 

 

First Week – What is Graphic Design?

This is the post excerpt.

Today we were assigned to a group of 4 people to discuss and define the terms “Graphic”, “Media” and “Design”. It was a good way of challenging yourself to brainstorm within a group of people from different backgrounds and cultures, and also share ideas between each other.

As we all got to write something on the paper, the more we started discussing the more ideas we had to put on the paper.

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To me “Graphic” is a digital field of design. Variety of colours, layers, letters and diagrams can all be covered within the Graphic attribute.

“Media” is the choice of materials that you choose. It can be traditional as well as digital. It’s what helps you communicate to your audience, the weapon of choice, in a way.

“Design” is also a type of communication, the way of solving someone’s problem and fulfills a purpose, it’s also a lifestyle. It’s around everyone when you look around.

Personally, I think it is a nice warm up to start the first week as it gets you thinking creatively and getting to know your peers with whom you’ll spend a year with.

As easy as it might seem it’s still an important part to know more about your field of study, if you don’t understand the basic concept of it, it’ll probably be hard to grasp on the advanced projects.

Later on was the seminar which consisted of tutorials on how to use the university’s Moodle page, the information was very useful as Moodle is something we will be using to submit deadline and read briefs on, also, the main brief for the following weeks was introduced to us.

The CTS brief is a 400 words essay on the subject “What is referencing?”. We are to reference it in Harvard style and upload it to moodle via “Turnitin”.