Utter nonsense

This film forms part of the cannon of BMW vanity projects. The notion is that you commission an eminent artists to 'paint' the shell of the car. It is described as a 'difficult and demanding job'. The rationale given by the artists is at best flimsy: 'I wanted it to look good in the daytime' for instance. It flags up an inability to describe the structure in thinking, the reason for the selected imagery seems arbitrary/random, perhaps with the exeption of David Hockney who wanted to take away the surface and see the inside of the car on the outside, an indication of his mawkish sentimentality about cubism and Pablo perhaps? These artists were commissioned because of their fame and renown at the time, a shrewd investment by the motoring giant no doubt. Beyond this the reason for the work is sketchy. Style over communication?


src="http://www.youtube.com/v/RrZxw1Jb9vA&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" height="344" width="425">

early abstractions by Harry Everett Smith, another pioneer.

The true avant garde? Rhythm 23 by Hans Richter.

More extraordinary imagery from Alejandro Jodorowsky a polymorph genius/madman.

Touching Cloth

This is Holy Mountain. Truly avant-garde?


This is war in 2030 according to E McKnight Kauffer. This image was one of nine produced by McKnight Kauffer in response to 'The World in 2030 A.D.' written by the conservative politician FE Smith (Earl of Birkenhead). some quotes:

'In 2030 women will still use men as the media by which
their greatest triumphs are wrought; they will still be able,
by their wit and charms, to direct the activities of the
most able men towards heights which they could
never otherwise hope to achieve.'


"If the next century is tranquil and prosperous,
life in 2030 will be adorned by cultured and urbane
amenities in excess of the pleasant accompaniments
which our contemporary civilisation can exhibit."

Witness the Future of the Avant Garde. This is the subject of our next key ideas debate.


'Early morning' [1825] by Samuel Palmer.
Vivid, intense and extraordinary, Palmer's sepia ink landscape drawings are his attempt to describe the majesty of creation. There is a manner of visual description that he is developing here, a stylised language that is both naturalistic and abstracted. The treatment of organic form is systematic, creating a 'patchwork' of texture/pattern/line. Unpicking and rationalising the information, representing it in a semi-abstracted way, stylising but communicating.


style over communication

“There has never been any design without style”

David Pye, in his book The Nature and Aesthetics of Design, explains that, “ shape, for us, is what gives individuality to things. All of us are extremely expert in recognising the individual. Character of shape in closely similar things, such as human faces and hands of writing, the individuality of shapes is the stuff of art, whether in design, painting, or any other field.”

We learn to become extremely sensitive to these differences.

These three houses are generic models of their particular time yet all stand out clearly as belonging to a particular style.

(Georgian terrace, Victorian terrace, 30s semi)

Indeed when people try to mimic style it can go strangely wrong
(neo Georgian house)

miffy from 'miffy's birthday' and 'miffy at the art gallery' by dick bruna
It can even go wrong when someone tries to imitate their own style old and new miffy, Mr Nencini would now direct you to examine the ears, shape of the head, feet and size and quality of the mouth. Where is the wabi sabi?

Shaker chair , boxes, tools and storage hooks
The Shakers (United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing) by all accounts a particularly modest bunch, it is suggested that they might become upset if buttons on their clothes got too exuberant, they designed their objects with a minimum of expression, yet still made furniture that stands out as designed by certain people at certain time period. You could argue that they do not have a style but a design methodology, it only became a style later when it was imitated. People buying into the look but with out the religion. Likewise with minimalism the tenets of which travel from art to architecture to some watered down expression meaning white walls rather than wallpaper

John Pawson London appartment 1984 & somewhere claiming to be a minimalist interior
So even though they tried to ignore style inevitably they created one. Some others are not so reticent

Here we have some work by the architect and designer Zaha Hadid, shoes for shoe label Mellissa, aura sculpture for the 2008 venice biennale based on the theories of palladio, interior shot of proposed opera house in dubai, Nekton stools. It seems though her style is her design method, so much so that its elasticity knows no bounds. In that she can move freely from architecture, art, furniture and clothing with the same fluid movements.

Her ‘style’ has become a self promotional tool, it is fairly recognisable and I guess if you commission her you kind of know what you are in for, she could be described as a vending machine in Alan Fletcher terms as mentioned in the design process debate, but maybe she has a point.

As Peter Dormer describes: “ artists do not need to be in tune with societies values (on the contrary much art criticises or subverts those values), but it is essential for designers to be in sympathy with the times, or to at least echo them, because much of the designers usefulness to a manufacturer is in his or her ability to identify current popular taste”

Barcelona chair Mies van der Rohe
Stephen Bayley believes that if you review the history of design and the opinions of those that have written about it, it seems that, there are agreements in approach to design.
And although the style of an object may differ, the items that stick out and become admired by successive generations have certain qualities in common, which he believes to be:
an intelligibility;
a coherence and harmony between form and detail;
an appropriate choice of materials to the function
and an intelligent equation between construction and purpose, with available technology exploited to full.

caveman club?
I suppose years ago a caveman/woman designed through necessity chose furs on their thermal insulation properties, picked up sticks and tested them for there ability to crack bison skulls
later we he/she was preoccupied in preserving food; less than 100 years ago preserving foodstuffs was still of primary importance to health, nutrition, longevity and ultimately survival.
Today our primary concern is not to find a solution to the method of preserving foodstuffs, but the colour of that solution, is it available in a brushed stainless steel finish
So what do you do? go for the solution you want, in the style that most suits your own.

style = choice (?)



Eek. Comments to come.

Just stockpiling pictures for next week...


Techniques at a Party

By Saul Steinberg, subject of a current show at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Comments to come...


The Stylist

In three-dimensional design, the style over communication issue might be read as style over functionality, or usability.
Early industrial designers in America were dismissed as 'mere stylists' by their Bauhaus-influenced European counterparts because their role often involved only the design of the external skin of the product, and did not consider its internal workings. However, when functionality and complex components are reduced to a minimum in the design of, say, a fruit bowl, as opposed to a camera, the intuitive, formal aspects of design (“styling”) naturally become the focus of the designer’s activity. Conversely when the object becomes too complex for one person to grasp (as with car design) the division of labour results in the designer's role again being reduced towards the 'cosmetic'.

Our next subject for discussion is 'style over communication'. The 'issue' of style is a sticky one for designers of all hue's but particularly Illustrators. Those of you studying at Camberwell will know that the 's' word has become virtually outlawed because of its association with momentary trends/aimless uses of particular, fashionable technology/superficiality and a lack of rigour in process. We have chosen to supplant this word with an idea of visual language. Perhaps it is time to revisit this thing called style, the thing that we associate with individual designers and practitioners. The thing that [sometimes] helps identify ways of thinking/making/producing with a period in time and to see if it is indeed in conflict with an idea of communication or if it operates in tandem with the ebb and flow of visual language development.