Design History Research

Graphic Design 1 students:
Select your ten best design examples of your topic for use in a short presentation to the class. Presentations should be 10 images / 10 minutes of clear identification of qualities present in your design period. Identify: formal qualities like line, shape, color, use of space. Identify: typography of the period. Identify: important designers + artists who shaped the movement. Identify: social conditions that shaped the movement (political, philosophical, cultural, technological?). Boil down the highlights into your 10 minute talk (that’s about one minute per slide.)

Please post a short descriptive paragraph about your topic to the comments below. Outline the key identifying qualities, dates and designers for the topic. Include your name and your topic name at the top of your comment. Include three links to more info and images related to your topic on the web.
(please post your paragraph by March 24) (150-200 words).



Presentations will be chronologically by historical topic:
March 26
Art Nouveau / Arts+Crafts Movement / Wiener Werkstatte / Expressionism

March 31
Futurism / Constructivism / Dada / De Stijl / Bauhaus /

April 2
New Typography / Art Deco / Modernism / Swiss design /

April 7
Push Pin Studios / Psychedelia / Postmodern Design / Deconstruction / Music Graphics

Design History Timeline Project
DUE for installation April 14, 16

Each student will do a long poster that coordinates with the class collection (size and format to be discussed). Your segment of the timeline will showcase your period research AS WELL AS elements you have discovered in contemporary design that reflect the aesthetic of the historical movement. Begin noticing and making these connections now! Poster timeline to be installed in VK131 temporary hallway.


28 thoughts on “Design History Research

  1. Sarah Lonetti : Weiner Werkstatte

    Weiner Werkstatte is a movement in art following the Art Nouveau. Where Art Nouveau stopped with the geometry, Wekstatte picked up with it and ran. Leaving behind the Sacred Spring, the Weiner Werkstatte group moved into analyzing the modern man and pushing the modern man to analyze himself. Hard, black outlining, ranging from the thin accenting to the high contrast thick lines. Line was used to grid the abstracted text and outline the imagery. Colors ranged in use but much of the art from this period use few colors and rarely mix them to give depth. This use of line and color, creates a very flat and shallow picture plane that depends more on geometric pattern contrasting with open space. In much of the work to come from this movement, this contrast of space and pattern is essential to making viewers not only pay attention but to question what is going on in the imagery. Many of the Weiner Werkstatte poster design features text kerned closely and/or stacked tightly. They also seemed to enjoy playing with the letters like jigsaw pieces, more than making legible information at times.

    The Werkstatte group also built off the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk ( total artwork ) in applying their style of art to the various fine arts, architecture and other medias – sometimes all at once. This is also due to the great influence of the Arts&Crafts movement as well.

    Best exemplified by Josef Hoffman, Koloman Moser, Fritz Warndorfer, and Josef Maria Olbrich.



  2. Psychedelia was a major art movement of the 1960’s counterculture which was inspired by the psychedelic experience induced by such drugs as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin. These experiences could also be induced through alternative techniques such as sensory deprivation, meditation, and psychosis. Poster artists Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Wes Wilson, Alton Kelley, and Stanley Mouse were it’s biggest contributors, and most of their work originated out of San Francisco. Common characteristics of this style of art are very surrealistic imagery and otherworldly colors. When looking at these posters the viewer gets a small taste of what the psychedelic experience the artist had was like. Different drugs produced different visual trends, such as the kaleidoscopic visuals characteristic of a LSD trip, or the neony blues and purples of a mushroom trip. The typography was usually highly imaginative, ornate, and bubbly. These artist’s poster art also greatly influenced the album cover art of the time, and all of these artists went on to create album cover art as well. The style was at its peak from about 1966-1972.


  3. Re: Psychedelic posters

    important influences on the Psychedelic poster artists were Art Nouveau, Pop Art and Op Art… Jugendstil, the German branch of Art Nouveau, deeply affected Wes Wilson, one of the most influential of poster artists. Art Nouveau is evident in Wilson’s mastery of pattern and rich design and in the twisting, undulating movement of his images. Other poster artists mimicked the Art Nouveau themes of exotic plants, floating swans and women with flowing veils and hair, too. Symmetrical composition and flat ornamental space became stylish, as did brilliant swirling colors and lyrical interpretations of line and space.



  4. Expressionism emerged as an organized movement in Germany during the early 1900’s. It was especially popular during the years prior to WWI.
    Expressionism was the tendency to depict not objective reality but subjects and events. Expressionists revolted against the cultural norms and aesthetic forms. They felt a deep sense of social crisis. Many German expressionists rejected the authority of the military, education, government, and Hohenzollern rule. They felt deep empathy for the poor and social outcasts, who were frequent subjects of their work.
    German artists formed two expressionist groups: Die Brücke (The Bridge) originated in Dresden in 1905, artists declared their independence in transforming their subject matter until it conveyed their own unexpressed feelings, and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) began in Munich in 1911, refined art as an object without subject matter, but with perceptual properties that were able to convey feelings.
    Colour, drawing, and proportion were often exaggerated or distorted, and symbolic content was very important during the expressionist movement. Line and colour were often pronounced. There was intense contrast between colour and value. Tactile properties were achieved through thick paint, loose brushwork, ad bold contour drawing. Woodcuts, lithographs, and posters were important media for expressionists.
    Some important expressionist artists include: Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz (her work showed concern for the human condition and its representation through easily understood graphic imagery), Oskar Kokoschka, Ernest Ludwig Kirchner (one of the founders of the artists group Die Brücke), Wassily Kandinsky (a founding member of Der Blaue Reiter group, work was less likely to depict the agony of the human condition, exploration of problems through form and colour).



  5. Feminine curves, organic lines, linear forms and waif-like figures took the turn of the twentieth century by storm. Modern style, new art, or what we identify as Art Nouveau took its shape in the 1880s and 1890s. It became a more public affair around the 1900s and was then largely eclipsed after 1914. Art Nouveau born due to a resistance of William Morris’s cluttered composition of the Arts and Crafts Movement. It also is said to be an important bridge between historicism of Neoclassicism and Modernism. The Art Nouveau period is identified for it’s nervous whiplash lines, scrolling asymmetrical tendrils, opaque naturalistic glassware, and contorted carved furniture. Art Nouveau also encompassed the geometry and radical simplicity of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the artists of the Weiner Werkstätte. Other important artists of the time include Gustar Klimt, Alfons Mucha, Rene La’lique, Antoni Guadi and Louis Comfort Tiffany.


  6. The Bauhaus movement began in 1919 and continued until the Nazis shut it down in 1933. The movement was a distillation of decorative arts and design elements into basic geometric forms. During this time the biggest trend was the up coming machine, where the newest inventions where automobiles, planes, and stainless steel. Handmade clothes where considered less attractive than machine made clothing and intricate antiques were replaced by clean cut machine made crafts.
    The movement started when the architect Walter Gropius wanted to start an art school that would embrace the machine and begin to make and prepare objects in all media for mass production. He focused on the ideas that form follows function and less is more. It was Gropius who coined the name Bauhaus which combines the root of the German verb bauen (to build) with haus (house). The building of the school itself was equal on all sides with no symmetry or hierarchy on any side so that one had to walk around the entire building to fully experience it. The Bauhaus school not only made an aesthetic impact but led to many controversies about the direction of future architecture and design.
    Five years after The Bauhaus School was opened the Nazi regime closed it down for political and controversial approaches in the world of design.



  7. De Stijl- Katie Deitner

    The art movement De Stijl is translated into “The Style” a body of work founded in the Netherlands by a painter and an architect named Theo Van Doesburg. De Stijl is a movement based on simplicity and abstraction. Using straight vertical and horizontal lines and rectangular forms. It also focuses on using the primary colors; red, yellow, and blue with the primary values black, white, and grey. With focusing on the primary colors along with the primary values it gave the artwork a since of symmetry and balance. Today, De Stijl has influenced Architecture, Interior Design, as well as artist.
    Founding members of the group included the painter Mondrian, the architect J.J.P. Oud and the designer, architect Rietveld and poet Anthony Kok. The group published a magazine called De Stijl that ran from 1917-1932. The members wanted to find “ a new style of art” and different principles then what were happening in the world. When the artists of the De Stijl movement came to creating art there were many elements that went above and beyond many things that were effecting the world at this time such as culture, politics, war. The artists made work with a feeling of wonder.
    De Stijl had a great influence on the Bauhaus movement in Germany, Berlage and Frank Lloyd Wright.


  8. Eric Berseth: Modernism

    Modernism is the thought or practice of reforming something that one felt was becoming outdated. The group of people who practiced Modernism became known as those who are “foward-looking.” From the 1880s on they began to forge their own path and kept on doing so well into the 1970s. People began to feel that traditional forms of art, architecture, literature, ect. were becoming dated in the emerging industrialized world. After World War 2 many important Modernist artists fled Europe for America. However, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Pierre Bonnard were able to remain in France. Starting in the late 1940s
    Jackson Pollock took a major approach to painting and revolutionized contemporary art. This abstract expressionism came from lessons learned from Modernist artists like Matisse and Picasso. Following abstract expressionism in the Modernist movement came a form of Geometric abstraction and then onto Pop Art in the 1960s.


  9. Christina Slick: Deconstruction

    Deconstruction is a concept that puts an emphasis on using cut up, layered, and broken forms to give a feeling of dual meaning. The concept was introduced by Jacques Derrida in his book of Grammatology, which was published in 1967. Derrida’s theory states that deconstruction asks how a representation of something “inhabits reality.” The concept of deconstruction is part of a broader field known as ‘post-structuralism.’ Post-Structuralism was the reaction of many philosophers and theorists to structuralist ideas. Some of these philosophers and theorists include; Rolan Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Jean Baudrillard. Katherine McCoy taught for 24 years at Cranbrook Academy of Art and became known as one of America’s best design educators. McCoy uses the concept of Deconstruction to “channel into personal expression.” Some other well known designers of the 20th century who use Deconstruction in their work are; Ed Fella, Neville Brody, Jeffrey Keedy, April Greiman, and David Carson. Deconstruction has helped to forge the path for a new design style. It puts an emphasis on the personal feeling of the design process.


  10. Postmodern Design

    Postmodern Design emerged from the modern era in the 1970s, when people began to question traditional institutions and social norms. The term postmodernism was coined to describe a cultural change that was taking place. Global communication and travel contributed to a social and economic awareness that the modern aesthetic was no longer relevant. Postmodernists used historical references, decorations, and the vernacular to expand the possibilities of design. In the 1980s, retro and vernacular design surfaced as designers began to understand their history more. Early 20th century graphics and typestyles were rediscovered that were lost when type converted from metal to photographic methods. Colors of the postmodern movement include the bright colors of Supergraphics and pastel hues of San Francisco Bay Area designers. Bay Area designers also used repetition of ruled lines.

    New Wave Typography challenged the International Typographic Style and its absolute order. New life was brought into typography by breaking order, rules, and traditions and juxtaposing text with images. Space was energized by breaking redundant grid based systems with diagonal and italic type and introducing weight changes within words.

    In the late 1980s, technological advances allowed designers limitless new options. Apple’s Macintosh computer introduced digital drawing tools, and Adobe’s PostScript programming paved the way for digital page layouts.
    Prominent postmodern designers and artists include: Tibor Kalman, April Greiman, Rudy Vanderlans, and Paula Scher.



  11. Chelsey Luther, Art Deco

    Art Deco is an art movement that occurred between 1920 and 1940. The movement influenced visual arts, but also architecture, industrial design, interior design, jewelry and high fashion. Art Deco was considered functional and worked as an interpretation of the social norms of the time. It took on the severity of the Great Depression and the cultural politics during the era. The style was much less decorative than previous art styles, using an element of boldness and straight lines reflective of machine made shapes. It was considered to be elegant and modern, implementing style ideas of other art trends, including neoclassical, constructivism, cubism, modernism, art nouveau, and futurism. It reached its peak in the Roaring 20’s with artists A. M. Cassandre, Rene Vincent, and Charles Loupot. Its popularity declined in the late 30’s and 40’s, but re-popularized in the 1980’s with graphic design. It influenced later art movements Memphis and Pop Art.


  12. New Typography began in the late 1920’s, influenced by the modernist movement. Constructivism and Bauhaus gave most influence to the new design rules. El Lissitzky was one of the first to take the ideas of the art movement and apply them to type. Jan Tschichold also took influence, most notably from the Bauhaus, and wrote a book titled “New Typography”. This book said designs needed to communicate their ideas through clear and simple means. Sans-serif type was the best style to be used, and varying the weight and size of the typeface in order to give a clear hierarchy of information. The effectiveness on the design was based on it also being asymmetrical and using shapes for emphasis. Other notable New Typography designers are Ladislav Sutner, Max Burchertz, and Anton Stankowski.


  13. The Dada movement began in the early 1900’s. It went from 1916-1923. It was a combination of artists and writers rebelled against the social and political norms of that time. They really tried to portray and stress the negativity of the values and social views of the time. The works they created were designed to shock the public to the point of getting them to reconsider a lot of the norms of the time. Their work was very unique in the way that they used such things as trash as a media. They also rebelled against the norm of uniformness. They liked to base a lot of their works on chance and how things fell or landed on the canvas. Dadaist really had revolutionary thinking in the way that they revolted against the standards of society, and expressed the beauty of randomness uncorrupted by the societal views. The most interesting part of Dada was the fact that the movement got its name by chance as well. How ironic? It turns out that the Dadaists were in a Cafe in 1916 and they found a dictionary with a paper knife inserted into it pointing at the word, “dada”, meaning “hobbyhorse”, which they seemed fitting for their movement. The main idea of Dada was the rebellion against the horrors of war.


  14. The Arts and Crafts movement spanned from the late years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. This movement initially developed in England and later was taken up buy American and Canadian designers. This movement, which challenged the tastes of the Victorian era, was inspired by the social reform concerns of thinkers such as William Morris, Aubrey Beardsley, and Walter Crane. The notion of this movement was that good design is linked with a good society. Happening closely with the industrialization period, the movement believed that the worker should not be brutalized by working conditions in factories but, that a worker should take pride in there handiwork and skill. They believed that craftsmanship should be rewarded, and produced such quality goods as architecture, decorative arts, cabinet making, crafts and even creating new typefaces. This lead to very elegant illuminated scripts and texts, quality furniture and exquisite crafts.


  15. Swiss Design came around in the 1950s, and the ideas it based itself on are still being used today. After WW2 ended, people were looking for an entirely new style from what had previously existed in order to move on from the horrors of the past. Led by designers and educators Ernst Keller and Theo Ballmer at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich, and Armin Hofman and Emil Ruder at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel, they preached simplicity, readability, and objectivity in design. Characteristics of Swiss Design are a rigid grid system, asymmetric layouts, sans serif fonts, the use of photography in place of illustration, and typography as a major design element. Other major designers of the movement include Josef Müller-Brockmann, Max Bill, Max Huber, and Adrian Frutiger (creator of the font Univers).


  16. In 1913, Russian Constructivism was born. It had developed from Cubism, Italian Futurism, and Suprematism in Russia, Neo Plasticism in Holland, and the Bauhaus School in Germany. This movement rejected the idea of “art for art’s sake”, but rather, aimed to reference social and economic issues. Artists such as Vladimir Tatlin and Ivan Albertovich Puni helped to pioneer the way for this art movement. In 1921, Constructivists rejected art and committed themselves to industrial design. Constructivist art was mainly geometric and precisely composed, sometimes through mathematics and measuring tools. Basic shapes and a variety of materials were used to create the art. Eventually, Russian Constructivism was replaced by Socialist Realism.


  17. Casey Kunkel: Push Pin Studios

    Push Pin studios originated from a small brochure called the “Push Pin Almanack” in which Seymour Chwast, Reynold Ruffins and Ed Sorel used to promote their illustration work. In 1954, Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser their own studio and “The Push Pin Graphic” (monthly). Their idea was to an integrate design, typography and illustration into a single practice which challenged the style of contemporary commercial art. It was about looking to the past for inspiration while at the same time creating something new. Chwast and Glaser experimented with methods used by timeless artists such as Da Vinci, Seurat, Gauguin,etc. Sometimes they are referred to as “premature postmodernists” because their work came before the term was coined. The monthly, which revolved around politics, news stories and humor, remained through the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. The designs in the 50s largely consisted of woodcuts, electric typography, thick black, and Glaser’s gestural drawings that were a combination of inspiration from Japanese wash drawings and Picasso. The 60s push pin style involved chromatic color or the “rainbow effect,” vintage forms, dot screens overlapping drawings, and a psychedelic, “drug-induced” style. In the early 70s, the monthly’s style became more about pinup calendars, interest in pattern and Glaser’s wash drawings.


  18. Futurism originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It was Italian based, although there were similiar movements in Russia, England and elsewhere. It is also possible the first movement in art history to be engineered and managed like a business. The futurists loved anything technological that showed mankind’s triumph over nature. A variety of these artists wrote manifestos crying out for change. The artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was its founder and most influential personality. He launched the movement in his Futurist Manifesto, which he published in the French daily newspaper Le Figaro on 20 February 1909. Marinetti has a loathing of everything old, which is the basis of his manifesto. This affected the design of the time to push away from the standard, or traditional method. The grid was ignored and text was flipped, rotated, and sized in new ways. Although unconventional, the new look began to attract attention. Futurist Designers displayed works on posters, books, and even the cover of Vanity Fair. Futurists believed the design and production of a book as symbolic of the machine age. Fortunato Despero portrayed this best with a book that was held together with 2 aluminum bolts, a true manifesto of the machine age. Inside a variety of typographic innovation, including text shape and type face, jumped from the pages.



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