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EXPLORING THE CREATIVE TYPOGRAPHIC RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MODERNISM AND CURRENT DESIGN
The history of type design is taken from architecture, industrial design, and product design. The modern topography was a response against the apparent decadence of typography and design of the late 19th century. Mostly, it is linked to works done by Bauhaus, Jan Tshchichold, Laszio Nagy, El Lissitzky, Herbert Beyer and many others. The modernist school played a huge role in influencing the current design. With the advancement in technology, modernism started to see its breakthrough by the end of the 19th century. The society in the West started to come up with new methods of shaping human culture and improving the built environment. Machines had power and they made artists strategically rethink their practice which resulted in a huge revolution and has a huge influence on designers even today. The machine itself became the theme in the modernism. Modernism changed the process of thinking in graphic design, communications, and typography. Creative typography art is the final form of science which meets the art. Size, space, type effects or treatments, color selection, contrast and much more go into every part of the design which has to involve the use of type. This paper will be exploring the relationship between creative typography in modernism with the current design. The works done by legends like Bauhaus will be reviewed to find out the effect or influence which it has in the current design.
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Founded as a revolutionary performance and design institution located in Weimar in 1919, Bauhaus was an important player in thought-provoking graphic arts to fundamentally rethink the realm of the physical nation and plotting more in the field of politics criticism before World War 2 (Aspen Institute, 2013). Bauhaus school’s approach to design stood to be a significant influence on the growth of graphic design and most of the 20th century contemporary art. Apart from making huge contributions to architecture, Bauhaus made unforgettable contributions to typography. Bauhaus belonged to the school of thought at which learners were persuaded to work on several mediums of art such as sculpture, fine art graphic design which gave chance to every discipline to inform the other one. He created the opportunities for design discussions between disciplines which paved the way for typography designers to gain the elements of Architecture ideologies to develop the type. Herbert Bayer was the pioneer to come up with Bauhaus as a typeface. Bayer had a recommendable architecture background that could have played part in influencing and shaping the typeface itself. ‘Form follows function’ was the Bauhaus design principle which he followed. The ideologies in this school were influenced by machines, technology and the varying lifestyle of people as a result of industrialization. This precisely justifies the reason why the ornate German black letter was not appealing to this school of thought.
In 1923, Bauhaus came with a poster called stationary Puka. The poster was made for the exhibition of all Bauhaus products which was held in Weimar. It was influenced by the Constructivism of Russia. The piece was geometrically made of letterforms which were printed in blue and black in a black background compressed as a cover into square space. He combined his experiments with typography and campaigned for the idea of a type photo (generally in posters) which was the integration of image and word communicating a message with immediacy. The school of thought believed that photographic images might free the viewer from depending on other people’s perceptions. Typography was the basic designing tool in photographic still life.
There was a great need to integrate industrial techniques with design to achieve mass production. “Bau” meant construction and the aspiration to offer ways of mass production. Bauhaus’s face was conceptualized in 20th Century Machine culture. This was the time when Mies Van der Rohe officially announced the idea of “Less is More”. Therefore, the Bauhaus style of typography was aimed at conveying this message with the use of their design.
According to Carter, Meggs and Day (2012), neither typography nor experiment workshops of Bauhaus were priorities while coming up with the schools’ face of modernism. Typographic systems which were designed included universal alphabets, typeface designs, and fonts, unjustified text alignment setting preserved in the Berlin Museum of Design. The font created was used in posters, magazines’ covers, building murals and furnishing the interior of corporates. Universal typography was a presentation of his antagonism to the spirit of conventional art to “chart new directions for inventive spatial relationships” which was placed among the western societies up to the 19th century as per Meggs & Purvis (2016). Modernism as a radicalized expression during the First World War was seen to revive European arts. Clarity, legibility and organisational logic were superior characteristics after war exchange of messages and typographic designing the main objective for which was to verbalize textual sense and dialectal in the completest clarity. Importantly, sans serif as a graphic type method served as a symbol of Bauhaus as the Avant-grade school. Another designer whose legacy is connected to the growth of typography is Renner who is a vital scholarly contributor and an educator in design acknowledge Bauhaus as the radical school in his informative era of apprenticeship (Famous graphic Designers, 2018). His work was later seen to have finally designed his desires in Futura which readability was improved in good sanserif. After launching in 1927, 90 years later, it can be argued that Futura had accomplished a breakthrough as the highly favored publication of typeface. This outlived Renner in terms of consistency “fresh to the eye…crystal clear… and free from any influence of fashionable form” (Koop, 2017). Futura has continued to demonstrate that its legacy was a defaulting method used in print publications. It is the best instance of a designer enforced to comfort problems of providing theoretical concepts into rehearsal. Renner had a belief that nationalists needed ideas to include in designing and Futura was the answer to drastically modernising Germany.
The old fonts were difficult to read when compared with Bauhaus san serif which made reading be simplified. Typefaces such as ITC Bauhaus and Futura were duplications of Bayers’ universal typeface. Bayer proved to be the best motivation for many typographers to come up, experiment and widen its effects and use.
When examining the current design in contemporary typography, it has borrowed so much from the Bauhaus school of thought. In the current design, the typography is used in social impact advertising. This resulted in high needs to differentiate brands in the market which is a vital factor in this era of social marketing. O’ Neil (2017) points out that several cutting edge firms seek a boost in recognisability look for Futura logotypes to make sure that their product brands stood from the predominant typeface. Furthermore, Futura and its variations are shown in several arrays such as current media, billboards, and magazines and the front of shopping displays and corporate identification. Hewlett-Packard (HP) may be an example. The typeface which HP uses as its logo design to converse up-front ease with its lowercase letters of the brand tag is effectively used to give an excellent product identity as an international IT firm. The font in HP brand advert materials precisely shows the corporates’ assurance of trust and trustworthiness.
Bauhaus’s work also contributed to the digital revolution in the field of graphic typography. The new typography using many styles, sizes, and shades, the biggest advantage of classical typefaces as per its advocates was the intentional structuralism which gave type design a full functioning mode for visual communication in its vivacity, physicality, and lucidity. The creation of typography in the era of digital has shown a lot of advantages through computerized software of designers to save time and labor. The type has been deconstructed on the digital media. Audiences just glide around web pages applications and in the internet sites when they cannot overtly notice the typography as a unique special asset.
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In Microsoft word, Bauhaus 93 universal alphabet was a definite reference point in building it. Unternehmensberatubeng Rubow Weber initially owned it and it was released in 1993. Microsoft combined Bauhaus 39 which was a variant of the initial Bauhaus to make it accessible to the public. Disney and Nintendo are popularly known to have utilized the typography creativity of Bauhaus 93. It played the role of coming up with a distinct logo that defined brands that represented fun and playfulness. The creativity of Bauhaus 93 has been widely adopted in commercial use for goods which target kids and teenagers to create a world view around the font to be cheerful, bubbly and joyful. Bauhaus is also popularly known for coming up with the terms “it is a font that flows”. It aimed at guiding the eye by shaping the words towards the direction of the goal. These concepts have been widely used in water harvesting channels, the building of windy roads and building drainages. Creative typography also was witnessed during the 2008 presidential election campaigns of the US Republican candidate who featured a Gotham, a Futura inspired typeface. The way the poster was designed created a huge admiration for the designers and also for the general public.
Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge was a 1919 lithographic Soviet propaganda poster by El Lissitzky. The poster was seen as significant in the Russian civil war in western publications. It was one of Lissitzky’s initial attempts in propagandistic art. The poster had been in the support of the Red Army not long before Bolsheviks waged their 1917 revolution. The lithograph indicates a large Red triangle which pierces a white circle which is the central point of the attention. The red wedge is a sign of revolutionaries who penetrated and killed the anti-communist White Army. The bright future is represented by the color white. El Lissitzky considered the artwork before 1917 to be out-fashioned when compared to the current movements of art referred to as constructivism. The art contained current tools and style and artists was centered in moving forward. Constructivism was considered to be more than art since it contained ideologies which originated from 1913 by Tatlin. Constructivism as a practice and theory was drawn from a prolonged series of debates at INKhUK (Institute of Artistic Culture) in Moscow. They defined constructivism as “the combination of faktura: the particular material properties of an object, and tektonika, its spatial presence”. Constructivism entire approach was to make objects which sought to do away with the old artistic concern, with Constructivism, and replace it with construction.
His work was a huge inspiration to magazines and other media who took his innovation and experimentation in book design into extreme levels. He brought out the concept of design combinations to come up with creative images that portrayed the deeper meaning of objects. The contemporary designers employ El Lissitszky’s ideas to graphically communicate various ideas. Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge left profound impacts the world of art design. The poster was a breakthrough in coming up with the notion of visual concepts which has helped shape graphic design which is witnessed today. The ideas of simplifying visuals forms to come up with basic geometric shapes and colors are widely used in our modern art and design. Lissitzky believed that the basic colors and pictures as those depicted in Beat the white with the red wedge helped in depicting and conveying morality and purity by making the abstract simple.
The constructivist ideas in the Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge argued designers to treat their work in a way like a functional tool of expression and meaning. Most current designers’ artworks have heavily borrowed that idea since behind almost all the artworks either a painting or a drawing, there is always a deeper meaning associated with it. From Beat the whites with the red wedge, which was a combination of spiritual non-objective elements of design from separatism by organising visual elements in dynamism and rhythm like real objects in space has taught the current designers how to combine and organise elements in space to bring up sensible meaning which in one way or another is doing to motivate the society or a particular group of people. In our contemporary society, it can be very hard to imagine it without his graphic design contributions. He made designers think big and outside the box to come up with functional visual ideas that can be used as communication tools to deliver messages and concrete ideas. He also challenges the designers to adopt the best ways of doing art in the market and avoid the old methods which are naïve and cannot pass the intended messages. Designers are also encouraged to explore the physical space and come up with new designing methods. In that case, it was only the modernist who dared to question the traditional designing methods to come up with explored new ways and tools of design.
El Lissitzky’s poster was inspiring to peacekeepers which were a galactic military group in the fictional Farscape universe. They were initially bodyguards working under the name Peacemakers. However, after the bodyguards left the peacemakers, they maintained their name. They were known to be ruthless but effective at the same time. Peacemakers’ sign was based on the symbol used by the soviet propaganda poster by Lissitzky Beat the whites with the red wedge. As implicated in the poster, the peacemaker’s objectives were to bring peace and unity. This was also communicated in the symbol itself. This implies that designers can communicate with the general public even without exchanging verbal words through art and designing.
The logo has also been used in contemporary society as an inspiring tool. The English doom metal used the symbol in their artwork. This is a clear indication that the poster played a huge role not only to the designers but also to the larger community. This means that designers urge to come up with designs that can influence and inspire larger groups of people. When comparing the current design and the modernist designs, it is evident that current designers have borrowed heavily from modernist designers and all the artworks are related in one way or the other. This is an event where some of modern firms still use the Bauhaus font brand for their products as a sign of differentiation and to offer a higher competitive advantage than competitors.
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