Tuesday, February 26, 2013

close circles

What I was thinking here was to zoom in so close on the posters from chapter ten that you cannot tell what the bigger picture is and you are forced to analyze style, color and form without any distractions from text or figures. I chose to put the images framed in circles to also eliminate any assumptions made from the traditional poster format of a poster. The only text I included is the title, designer and date to give enough contextual information so that all the focus of interpretation and examination is on the image.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Curating Cramsie

I chose to make my curating project about the evolution of Art Nouveau, highlighting how artists broke from traditional painting and, through experimentation & embracing external (outside Europe) influences, developed a commercial art style the public could connect with and respect.

- Ian

design as a reflective conversation with the situation

"The situation is complex and uncertain, and there is a problem of finding the problem."
Donald Schön


The heading of this post is the title of an essay by Donald A. Schön, in his book The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action (1983). At the center of that chapter is the story of a student (Petra) and professor (Quist), as they talk about Petra's design ideas for an elementary school on a hillside setting. In his analysis of the exchange, Schön talks about how the problem is framed (and reframed), about the early "what if" (try something) moe, followed by the later "musts" that a selected "what if" entails.

"Each move is a local experiment which contributes to the global experiment of reframing the problem." (p94)

"The designer's moves yield systems of implications." (99)

Schön discusses the role of language in the exchange, also the situation's "back-talk" as one moves through — and reflects on — actions.

We also read pages 88-90 of Schön's conclusion ("What can be learned from the experience of the architectural studio") in his The Design Studio: An Exploration of its Traditions and Potentials (1985).


We are joined on Monday morning by film maker David Gatten, who will show three films (probably The Secret History of the Dividing Line (detail above, 20 minutes), The Great Art of Knowing (37 minutes) and Moxon's Mechanik Exercises, or The Doctrine of Handy-works Applied to the Art of Printing (26 minutes). We'll be discussing stories, finding stories in the material (that sort of thing).


It is my hope (and expectation) that the Schön reading (and our discussion thereof) and David's films (and our discussion thereof!) will feed into our thinking about design practice, theory, history and, specifically, that they will help and/or encourage us with the experiment I assigned orally in class:

  1. a prospectus, eight frames (squares, pages, but needn't be thought of as a book, necessarily, and could certainly be a website)
  2. presenting selected material from Cramsie (chapters 10 The Style of the Street and 10 The Simple Art of War), possibly mixed with material of your own, or from other sources, that gives an "experiential" sense of moving through space in an exhibition.
  3. select some images, or theme, could even be a detail (matches at page 166, but also pp14-15, or "lines" — same pages, but also cuneiform...) that you want to argue something about.
  4. you may extend out beyond these chapters, within and beyond Cramsie. it is interesting that he discusses the technologies of design (specifically, of printing) far less in these two chapters, than elsewhere in his book. why?
  5. the panels are not so much "helps" to move through an exhibition, but rather a suggestion of how that would feel, of the experience. something large (a detail enlarged), followed by something else (and so sequence matters, scale matters).

think "movie."

This exercise/experiment needs time to evolve. It may move to other areas of Cramsie, periods we've not yet touched on.


We are reflecting on the connection of practice (which tends to be messy), with history (which tends to smooth over the rough edges, and to have little to do with the immediacy of design practice), and with theory.

We are interested in modes of working, in the dark, sometimes; and with design as conversation.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cramsie 10 + 11

(Reading this early while I have the time, but here are some notes of things that stuck out and sparked my interest - so I don't forget when we discuss in class in a week.)

Chapter 10
The Style of the Street

"The previous ad hoc process of sticking posters to an available flat surface was replaced by a more organized and systematic approach, with special hoardings being erected by contractors who, in some instances, provided framed areas almost as though the posters were paintings." 149

"By making the edges of his [Chèret] posters diffuse or bare, viewers were in no doubt as to where they should focus their attention." 150

Re: Coca Cola logo - It was interesting how Cramsie talks about the breakdown of the way the letters are written and how we don't notice that the two c's in 'coca' are written differently than the c and the l in 'cola' because we are so use to it and it is so engrained in our culture. I had never noticed that myself.

"[European] prints were collected and discussed with a seriousness that had previously been the preserve of paintings, and this elevated status was carried over to posters created by home-grown designers." 156

"Posters were signed by their designers for the same reason that a painting was marked by the artist, not just to show who made them, but also to increase the picture's appeal and thus its commercial value." 157

"The potential this [hand made] gave designers to construct highly personal and idiosyncratic style allowed some of the very best of them to acquire a level of fame and recognition that exceeded that of even the best-known painters. The gallery of the street provided the former with an audience that was denied to the latter." 157

"By applying a concertedly unified graphic style in this way Hoffmann created one of the very earliest examples of corporate identity design or branding." 161
- This whole concept and how he came up with it using squares to influence everything is very interesting, especially the logos for their own names (Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser).

Chapter 11
The Simple Art of War

"Instead of using swirling and decorative patterns to surprise and delight the viewer, the posters displayed stark arrangements of simple graphic images and minimal typography."163

Interesting that many of these posters are so opposite of the Art Nouveau, using bold graphic colors in large shapes with little detail and mostly cut out of paper.
 -"In an era when mechanized, street-bound forms of transport were becoming popular - the bicycle, the tram and the car - a less elaborate poster could be decoded more quickly. It was possible for the more mobile masses to 'read' the pictures and texts at a glance." 163

"...a maximum effect can often be achieved by an economy of means." 166
 -Re: Prieseter poster

Fig 11.11 Flags and roundels

"dazzle" 171
"It seems to have favoured only certain vessels in particular situations rather than all ships equally."

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

House Keys and Hair Ties

 House Keys Text: 

Most modern house keys are made for a pin-tumbler or wafer-tumbler lock. When held upright, as if to open a door, a series of grooves on either side of the key (the key's blade) limits the type of lock the key can slide into. As the key slides into the lock, the grooves on the blade of the key align with the wards in the keyway allowing or denying entry to the cylinder. Then a series of pointed teeth and notches on the blade called bittings allow pins or wafers to move up and down until they align with the shear line of the inner and outer cylinder, allowing the cylinder or cam to rotate freely inside the lock, which opens
the lock.Two of the most popular key makers include Master and Schlage. Generic key designs typically look the same and
only come in a handful of variations dependent on the type of lock. These simple designs can open doors to house owned by a wide variety of people weather it be a lower class person or a aristocrat.
Generally most house keys keep their generic nature often making it confusing when it comes to defining which key is used for which lock. With the exception of custom house keys these generic designs are void of ornamentation and excess design elements. 

In Relation to Loos: 

When I was thinking about this project I wanted to choice objects that most americans own and that are typically "generic" in form. I first decided to reflect upon house keys. For the most part house keys look the same. Granted under closer inspection all house keys are different but for the most part they are void of any extra decoration and ornamentation. I thought about how these very generic forms can be used to open doors or locks to a wide variety of homes or other locked things. For instance a poor man can have the same key design as a rich man in a mansion. For keys it is typically what the door opens that defines the person rather than the key itself. 

Scunci Text: 

Scünci (pronounced skuncee) formally called Scrunchie, is a hair products company powered by innovative thinking. Scünci operated as a privately held company until its acquisition in March of 2005 by Conair Corporation, a worldwide leader in professional and consumer hair appliances.
Scunci developed a new type of no damage hair elastic which provided a simple tangle free design that could be used for a variety of hair types and styles. This new design eliminated the need for a metal piece which was typically needed to hold the thread covered elastic in a loop.
Although these hair ties are available in a variety pack of colors, there signature black generic ties are void of any extra decoration or design.

In Relation To Loos: 

The second product I wanted to consider that is fairly generic in form was the hair elastic. For most people with longer hair a hair elastic is a essential cosmetic tool to keep your hair under control or styled. Traditional hair elastics included a metal piece that was used to hold the elastic in a loop. These new hair ties allow for the metal piece to be excluded and a adhesive is replace to finish the hair ties construction. They are available in a variety of colors but generically they are black and void of any decoration. They are plan simple and revolve around function. 

Phaidon II

The objects I chose were an Alesis Micron synthesizer and a 1970's Electra Outlaw guitar. Not quite finished writing about the guitar.


Regarding the designed city, language all over the place, on every wall, plans being carried out in every street — consider the London views of George Scharf (1788-1860).

By induced accident, stumbled upon a scientific lithograph by Scharf — described in three tumblr posts, the last here. Follow the links. London, design, infrastructure is a long way from the long extinct Hybodus basanus, but I make no apologies. Will discuss in class.

Assembling an Ikea furnishing is like assembling a sentence, one article or noun or connective at a time. Some rooms have Ikea written all over them. What's made invisible?

In the IDEO reading — David Kelley, Design Adopts Technology — "He started his design consulting business in Silicon Valley in 1978, when the engineers and entrepreneurs were so focused on chips, printed circuits and software... David saw the opportunity to integrate the human design disciplines of industrial design, human factors, and interaction design with the technical disciplines of mechanical, electrical and production engineering." (Bill Moggridge, Designing Interactions (2007) : 301


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Materials and Methods / Story Telling in Architecture

A lecture-based survey on materials and methods of construction as they relate to structural design. The course provides an overview of contemporary building technology and theory. State-of-the-art technology is introduced through the use of high quality contemporary case studies. Prerequisite: ARCH165 Survey of Architecture II and ARCH175 Design Principles II. Corequisite: ARCH245 Architecture Design and Technology I.
A studio-based design course that explores the issues presented in ARCH238 Materials and Methods I lectures in a series of design problems of increasing complexity and length, and through discussions in weekly seminars. Prerequisite: ARCH165 Survey of Architecture II, ARCH175 Design Principles II. Corequisite: ARCH235 Materials and Methods I and HUMN150 Art and Theory. Please refer to the Design Studio Grade Requirement regarding the final grade for this course.
A lecture-based survey on materials and methods of construction as they relate to systems design. The course provides an overview of contemporary building technology and theory. State-of-the-art technology and sustainability are introduced through the use of high quality contemporary case studies. Prerequisite: ARCH245 Architecture Design and Technology I and ARCH235 Materials and Methods I. Corequisite: ARCH345 Architecture Design and Technology II.
In this introductory course, students develop an understanding of basic construction materials and assemblies, including foundations, walls, roofs, doors and windows, water protection, and finishes. Through a series of drafting exercises coordinated with the technical matter being presented, students will learn the basics of hard-line technical drawing.

- These courses all focus on materials and methods concerning construction however I think that It would be beneficial for designers to understand new materials and methods in the realm of graphic design or fine arts to create innovative work that can branch across many platforms. It would also provide a opportunity to understand technical practices, terminology and writing skills not native to the "realm" of graphic design. 

Story telling used in architecture to teach biblical stories to those who may be otherwise illiterate.  

story telling on the notre dame cathedral. 

 Inline image 2
Lorenzo Ghiberti "gates of paradise" - story telling.

design, escaped from the lamp


from Punch 79 (October 30, 1880) p194 and here.


  • Adolf Loos. "Ornament and Crime" (1908), in Adolf Loos, Ornament and Crime: Selected Essays (Riverside CA: Ariadne Press, 1998).
  • Hal Foster. "Hey, that’s me," a review of Bruce Mau’s Life Style (Phaidon, 2000), in the London Review of Books 23:7 (5 April 2001): 13-14; and later reprinted as "Design and Crime" in Foster’s collection of essays (same title, Verso, 2002).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Flusser Response

Response to Flusser

I agree with Flusser that design is a means for us to manipulate and therefore become deceptive or “cunning”. When he talks about the origin of the word it makes sense that designers and artists come from words meaning “trickster” or “deception” because artists do use manipulation of tools or technology to convey theoretical ideas.
Design also serves as the perfect bridge between technological and aesthetic principles because it serves a means to express the connections between the two. We can see evidence of this in our daily lives, for instance our phones, cars, refrigerators, and clothing all serve a purpose weather it be communication, transportation, or another function “necessary” for modern life while at the same time being both appealing to the eye aesthetically and constructed to best accommodate function.
I also agree that most design loses its truth and authenticity because of how disposable design is. As we evolve design evolves and with new design comes the disposal of older designs, which are no longer as relevant or functional. It’s kind of sad to think about how the designs of ideas are becoming as equal as the idea behind the design. When he talks about advertising it is true that people put all this effort into coming up with a “big idea” that then has to be manipulated into a design that is judged as equally as the original idea even though it can be argued that the idea has more truth and timeless authenticity than the design.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Flusser brings up a lot of facts about where the word design comes from, its Latin word, its Greek word its German word etc. All coming to the conclusion that design is a way to “seduce people into perceiving distorted ideas” and that designers obtain the “ability to turn something to one's advantage”. I completely agree with what Flusser is saying but the way in which it is said sounds as though this all comes as a surprise or some grand revelation. Where as I've always though of design that way. My brain works very commercially, which is exactly why I 've always seen design through “deceptive” eyes. In advertising specifically, the designers g­oal is to sell a product or brand and beat out their competition. By doing this you have to make you product look better then others and call out key points that make your product stand out and become more worthwhile for the consumer. Flusser raises the question, “Who and what are we deceiving when we become involved with culture (with art, with technology – in short, with Design)?”. We are deceiving our consumers to make sure they are drawn into buying what we want them to buy. We are deceiving fellow designers and the common folk just passing by. We need them to believe that every line, every word, every image is intentional and that the color, the font, and composition is specific for that layout. We need them to believe that our design is the right design, that there is no better way of putting it. If design is not trickery then it just becomes something that is pretty (hopefully), a piece of home décor. Without that tinge of deception it becomes a “what you see is what you get” piece. There is no deeper meaning, no underlying or between the lines message to decode and what's the fun in that?

Happy or Crappy?

The art of deception! Conveniently relevant.
Using mainstream media to portray how the happy images, the happy tunes you hear aren't so happy.

Emblem 1_Tides
Image: (500) Days of summer
Lyric: Hey Ya- Outkast

Emblem 2_Unfold
Image: Juno
Lyric: Beautiful Girls- Sean Kingston

Emblem 1

Photo Credit: Liv Varney

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

[Excerpt] Sea Fever by John Masefield

Emblem 2

Photo Credit: JL Isenger

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

[Excerpt] Sea Fever by John Masefield