The Dimension of Surface – Communications Design in Germany
||Typography, orientations and guidance systems, graphics, corporate design and digital media are the themes of the travelling exhibition Dimension der Fläche – Kommunikationsdesign in Deutschland (i.e. the dimension of surface – communicationsdesign in Germany), conceived by the Goethe-Institute in cooperation with the German Design Council of Frankfurt am Main. |
Putting together a compelling exhibition on leading-edge communications design in Germany can be done only if one single condition is fulfilled: highlighting the strength – or to stay with the image – the breadth and contours of achievements in two-dimensional communications design. “Contemporary” here means that the exhibit presents works representing the state of the art of communicative achievement at the start of the 21st century. “In Germany” refers on the one hand to the fact that the initiators of this exhibit, the Goethe-Institute and the German Design Council, have focused on German designers and firms, or designers and firms working in Germany, fully aware on the other hand international exchange has always played an essential role in the area of communications design. American, English, Japanese or Swiss influences make themselves felt “in Germany,” and the reverse is true as well; Germany is also the source of decisive influences on international communications design.
Five core areasFinally, the application of the concept of „communications design“ points to the contentual object of the exhibition: the language of signs and images, of which the exhibition’s thematic selection offers a concentrated survey. The exhibition’s five core areas - corporate design, digital media, graphics, orientation and guidance systems and typography - provide the best representation of this, although it must be expressly pointed out here that the omitted disciplines of animation, comics, film, photography, graffiti, illustration, and on-air and packaging design deserve mention.
MentorsFive recognized experts were asked to name their favorites during the selection of the designers and works. Works by these mentors of the exhibition, Johannes Erler (corporate design), Mike Meiré (graphics), Joachim Sauter (digital media design), Erik Spiekermann (typography) and Andreas Uebele (orientation systems), are also represented, constituting the core of the works shown in the exhibition. Separating individual areas and classifying individual designers or firms in terms of particular areas would only be of theoretical interest – this applies to all exhibition participants. In every-day practice almost all communications designers move in the various fields of the discipline, which are often closely meshed with each other. There is no such thing as corporate design without graphics, no media design without typography, no guidance system without corporate design, etc. But areas of concentration and specialties of the designers can nonetheless be identified: they are given space in the exhibition and in turn they provide visitors with orientation.
HistoryOne thing visitors are intentionally not being offered is a retrospective of German graphic design and visual communication of the last hundred years. What the visitor sees is a snapshot taken at the beginning of the 21st century – apart from isolated exceptions that have kept their status as icons of style to this day, such as the music magazine Frontpage (1992–1997, art director: Alexander Branczyk).
At the same time, the exhibition does not neglect past achievements in graphics and the visual arts: their presence and effects right up into the present are too forceful to be ignored. Logos, pictograms, texts or series and systems often reveal their power only after they have succeeded in making their mark over a period of decades. All such achievements are examples of outstanding, long-lasting communications design in Germany. They are not an explicit part of the exhibition, but they make their presence felt at all times.
Supported by about 150 works, the exhibition Dimension der Fläche shows how good communications design helps us find our way in our daily jungle of information, time tables, the Internet, and event programs.
The following cities present the exhibition:
(Preliminary schedule, for the exact dates please contact your local Goethe-Institut):