Sunday, May 8, 2011

Postmodernism in Graphic Communication

The word "Postmodernism" is special indeed. Every Art movement that has the word "Post" in front of the actual name of the movement suggests that it is either  a replacement or this movement came after that one. Postmodernism was introduced in the end of the 20th century, when Modernism was dying slowly (Eskilson, 2007, 336).

Actually "Post" here means that it is against what Modernism stood for (Eskilson, 2007, 336). Postmodernism does what Modernism does, only it does not care if there were any mistakes, it honors itself for being this way. Unlike Modernism which feels sorry if the message does not reach the viewer they way it wants it, or if there is no message in the work (Woods, 1999, 8). Postmodernism does not follow one style of Art (Foster et al, 2004, 596). Post modern Graphic Design has special features including but not limited to: Using different typefaces randomly to distract the viewer, very messy pages, mistakes that are intentional and blurred photographs (Eskilson, 2007, 336;355). 

Postmodernism has no restrictions, this gave the designers the freedom for different approaches (Eskilson, 2007, 355), which can be described as if you are giving people your inner experience, emotions, rather than facts, this will result in people not understanding what you are trying to say, or understand it in a wrong way (Frascina and Harris, 1992,98). Therefore it is totally against the restrictions of Modernism, where there is a true message behind the design, and this message should be delivered in the right way so that everyone can understand it (Frascina and Harris, 1992, 98). Now it is clear why many designers have rejected the Postmodern idea of design, especially the modernists as they followed a different route in order for their message to be clear (Poynor, 2003, 26). 

New styles like Postmodernism are unique and at the same time refreshing because of the features that are mixed randomly to create a free design that is not restricted by anything unlike the International style (Eskilson, 2007, 344). Sometimes when you remove the rules and express yourself, the result might be surprising and you could create your own style. This is what Postmodernism is about, although it is kind of a random process, but when you combine different elements together you have the chance to explore more and get creative with the design. It is about making people wonder about the design, what does he/she mean through this design? why did he/she use this instead of that?. This is the factor that makes your design special and in some cases unforgettable.


  • Eskilson, J.S. (2007). Graphic Design: A New History. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

  • Frascina, F., Harris, J. (1992). Art in modern culture: an anthology of critical texts. London: Phaidon Press Limited.
  • Foster, H. et al. (2004). Art since 1900, modernism, antimodernism, postmodernism. New York: Thames & Hudson.

  • Poynor, R. (2003). No more rules: Graphic design and postmodernism. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

  • Woods, T. (1999). Beginning postmodernism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Art Nouveau: Peter Behrens and the corporate type design

My topic is about Peter behrens and the corporate type design, i will try to show  how meaning is created through the artworks of Peter Behrens. How his artworks can affect the viewers perspective and change peoples' lives. What road did Peter go into in order for his message to reach every viewer equally and how Art can be for everyone.

Peter Behrens

Is one of the best artists of his day. He is best known as an architect from the beginning of Modernism. Architecture was certainly Behrens's main focus, and after the first world war, he concentrated almost exclusively on buildings (Becker, 1997, 273). In 1897 he was more into applied Arts, therefore he was one of the founders of the Associated workshops for Art and Handicraft group in Germany (Eskilson, 2007, 101). Behrens loved painting (industrial design, 2010).  but as he was more interested in Graphic design, he stopped painting (Eskilson, 2007, 101).

This work is known as The kiss, done in 1900 this woodblock  print shows exactly what Peter Behrens's style is about, stylized hair , flowing design, curvilinear lines shows that this is Art Nouveau.

Behrens and the AEG

In 1903, Behrens gave up the organic abstract style in favor of simplicity and geometric forms (Becker, 1997, 270). 3 years later he was hired by the founder of AEG, a General Electricity Company. Peter's job was to design everything, such as lettering, adverts, brochures, appliances, electric kettles, lamps, all the way to the company's building ( Becker, 1997, 273). all these products has to show that the company is following one style ( Eskilson, 2007, 102).

This is the AEG Turbine Factory, designed by Behrens in 1908. the shape of the building is reduced to geometric shapes and the absence of the ornamental design makes it less of a decorative building and more of a functional design, as the beauty comes from the form and not additional decorative elements ( Eskilson, 2007, 102).

This is the corporate logo that Behrens designed for AEG. It is placed on the facade of the turbine building.  It looks like a honeycomb because it is made of 3 hexagons that contains the company's initials. All contained in a larger hexagon.This repetition is taken directly from Japonisme, but Behrens got rid of any ornament that would make this shape any complex. We can conclude from this design, the use of geometric shapes, simplicity of shape and repetition that the company's goal is to unify everything they make ( Eskilson, 2007, 102).

The AEG font, the first corporate typeface. Created by Peter Behrens. As usual the typeface follows everything Behrens created for the company, simple in style, geometric in shape and does not have any exaggeration added to it, all in all very modern ( Eskilson, 2007, 102).
As Peter kept creating consumer electrical apliances, and they were produced in mass numbers, he became one of the first Industrial Designers. His objective was to study both function and form, and the connection between product and user, to identify and fulfill needs, wants and expectations ( Eskilson, 2007, 102).
This is the Electric tea kettle designed by Peter Behrens in 1909. It is very elegant and geometric. it has an octagonal body very similar to the  turbine building's roof and logo.The handle of the kettle look simple and is curved with balance (Eskilson, 2007, 102) . The whole shape looks modern because of the function factor over the beauty factor. the kettle does not look expensive, therefore It is a product for all people.

This is Peter Behren's way of Advertising the new product of AEG, an advanced lamp. This poster was created in 1910. The design does not look relevant to the purpose of the product. The lamp is placed inside a 3 equal sided triangle, with a pattern made out of dots to show the power of the lamp. all the lines in the poster are represented by dots same as the ones used to represent light. the typeface used is the same one  found in the logo of the company, but here it is used to reverse the color scheme of the image (Eskilson,2007,102).
It seems that Behrens has managed to accomplish the company's goal by unifieng every visual thing the company makes. The result of this is the first true corporate identity. Behrens made AEG an extremely distinguishable and appealing company to its target audience, by its designs through logos, colors. And the ways of communication such as advertising, public relations. He even used the strategy of Total work of Art on his own house(Eskilson, 2007, 104). Total work of Art is to Unify a style in all the fields of Art. Basically  everything in his house had the same style, and that makes it one peice of art, easy on the eye, simple in its message and clear in its goal.

Here are some products designed for AEG by Peter Behrens:


- Becker, F.G.(1997). Art Nouveau. Koln: Konemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH.

- Duncan, A.(1994). Art Nouveau. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

- Eskilson, J.S.(2007). Graphic Design. A New History. London: laurence Publishing Ltd.

- Idustrial Design.(2010). Retrieved March 13, 2011, from

-Peter Behrens.(2011). Retrieved march 13, 2011, from

-The virtual peter Behrens exhibition.(2007). Retrieved March 13, 2011, from

-Peter Behrens.(n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2011, from

-Peter Behrens, trademark for the AEG company c.1908 and electric fun, 1908. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2011, from

-Peter Behrens. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2011, from

-(unknown producer). (1868-1940). Peter Behrens_Graphic Designer. [Videotape].

-(unknown producer). (1909). Fabrica de Turbinas AEG. [Videotape]. Berlin.