DKV UNPAS Bandung: National Visions within a Global Dialogue

Arakanlebah, Komunitas DKV UNPAS Bandung

National Visions within a Global Dialogue

at 3/26/2005 View Comments

In 1966 the German graphic designer Olaf Leu wrote that German design no longer had any national attributes. Observing that while some might favor this development, Leu acknowledged that others regret it. At that time the purist geometry of the international typographic style and the unbridled freedom of American design coexisted as important influences on German design as well as on design activity around the globe.

A period of international dialogue had begun. Just as events in Southeast Asia or the Middle East directly affect Europe, the Americas, and Japan, conceptual innovation and visual invention spread like wildfire. An international culture embracing the fine arts, performing arts, and design spans national boundaries, extending from traditional centers to every corner of the globe. This has been spurred by graphic arts technology, which makes professional typography and printing possible in small cities and developing countries, and by the swift growth of graphic design education.

During the 1980s and 1990s the rapid development of electronic and computer technology began to change the processes and appearance of design. Overnight express mail, fax machines, global televisual communications such as the continuous Cable News Network (CNN), and direct-dial international long-distance telephone service all served to further shrink the human community into Marshall McLuhan's "global village". The advanced technology of the late twentieth century creates a cultural milieu of simultaneity--ancient and modern cultures, Eastern and Western thought, handicraft and industrial production--until past, present, and future blur into a continuum of information and visual form.

This complex world of cultural and visual diversity created an environment where a vast global dialogue coexists with national visions, resulting in an explosive and pluralistic era for graphic design. The many countries where designers developed a unique national posture for design include the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Netherlands. Post-World War II English graphic design characterized the new internationalism. Both the purist modernism from Switzerland and the graphic expressionism from New York were assimilated, but the potential pitfall of becoming a colony to these pervasive influences was successfully avoided by outstanding English designers who made significant contributions to the international dialogue.

A design partnership initially formed in 1962 became an early focus of British design. Alan Fletcher (b. 1931), Colin Forbes (b. 1928), and Bob Gill (b. 1931) formed a studio that carried their names. In 1965, after Gill left the partnership and architect Theo Crosby (1925-94) joined the firm, the name was changed to Crosby, Fletcher, Forbes. Exhibition design, historic conservation, and industrial design were added to the firm's activities. As additional partners were added, the name of the studio was changed to Pentagram.

Intelligence and appropriate design solutions growing out of the needs of the problem were the hallmarks of Pentagram design. Thorough evaluation of the communications problem and the specific nature of the environmental conditions under which the design was to appear combined with British wit and a willingness to try the unexpected. Pentagram's expansion into other countries is testament to the organizational skills and creativity of the original partners. During the postwar period technological leadership and an awareness of Western social patterns and lifestyles raised philosophical issues for Japanese graphic designers as they sought to maintain national traditions while incorporating international influences. European constructivism is a major resource for the Japanese design movement.

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