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City of Communication

In the second installment of Premsela's lecture series during Beijing Design Week 2011, graphic design was high on the agenda.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 30-09-2011

With only limited living space in today's urban society, the quality of those spaces are of paramount importance.

As people spend more and more time indoors behind computer screens, it is the public space where a difference can be made. All part of the Connecting Concepts exhibition in some way or another, the speakers each presented their vision on how graphic and new media design can improve our daily life.

A designer, a teacher, but also curator of Connecting Concepts Ed van Hinte discussed the non-tangible aspect of graphic design in the city. Claiming "there is no such thing as information overload," Van Hinte drew attention to the way new technologies and new media are evolving our lives. A constant stream of information isn't necessarily a bad thing for it allows transparency and gives us access to knowledge we never thought possible. We can share and filter this knowledge through our media devices and enliven the city thanks to Augmented Reality.

Luisa Tresca of Vitamin Creative Space talked of the Taobao poetry project, in which a small physical shop - selling an array of handmade items - moved online to explore different communicative approaches and reach more 'customers'. "It's not about the sale," says Tresca. "The online shop is a mirror of the activities which are held at the Vitamin Creative Space, where we invite creatives to create and discuss new communicative models and economic ideas."

Amongst the products are some rather poetic references to communication such as the knitted iPad covers, the recycled clothing and the 'Love letter from the seaside'; a link between all items in which a simple idea conveys a story of communication, emotion and creativity.

Graphic design agency To Meet You's Guang Yu showed how graphic design isn't just a case of putting up attractive signs and pictures, but that when you analyze a project and search for the logic between elements, a wonderfully clear design can be achieved. A clear design is what Mijksenaar is all about, as it's founder Paul Mijksenaar specializes in wayfinding. We all know his designs from the Schiphol airport signage but have you ever though about what makes a sign comprehendible?

Colours play a huge role in the design process for wayfinding and Mijksenaar stressed: "Never give architects use of colours. We do the colours." He also demonstrated that cultural differences play no role in the use of symbols and how technology could help personalize wayfinding, that is "until the power fails and we're left with good old signs and symbols."

The Q and A brought up questions such as 'Must design be purely functional' and 'What role does the public have to play in design?'

Guang Yu said: "Designers should solve problems, not show their opinions." To which Zou Zengfang of Studio Dumbar added: "Yes, some design is purely functional, but it can still evoke emotions or have cultural meaning. The most important thing is that the basic functions are satisfied."
Issues such as 'how will technology affect our perception of reality?' and 'will it make us more human?' were raised.

Luisa Tresca explained that for her project, the move from a physical to a virtual space was related to the project itself, not preconceived. The technology of a website allowed a communicative story to be told. Daan Roosegaarde explained we're in a state of co-controll. We should make things that attract life, create conditions from which to start a conversation. 

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