Shop Talk

Aspects and attitudes within design #1

There is a definite satisfaction in finding and sharing great things that inspire, especially if they have been overlooked by the masses. It makes any mutual appreciation all the more exciting and can reassure one’s own sensibilities. It often happens when unearthing an obscure band, past or present, or chancing upon a random film with no expectation or prior knowledge. It seems to be an occurrence that is becoming increasingly harder to experience within the field of music, film or television, such is the obvious over exposure of content of genuine quality. The chances are, if it’s any good, you’ll have seen it, and if you haven’t, you may have caught the American remake.

It can, however, occur much more often within the marginalised field of typography and design, with dutch designer Piet Gerards being one such example. I highly recommend a look at his portfolio website. A browse through the years allows you to follow his career development as well as embrace a consistent, timeless aesthetic that is free from fanciful trend and decoration. Although predominantly a book designer, there are other elements to his practice, including logos, reports and websites. Every element has the subtle, sensitive touch of a craftsman. It is a work ethic that requires time, understanding and an in-depth interrogation and subsequent mastery of form and content.

Although it is a reasoned argument to suggest that such purveyors of craftsmanship can often be overlooked in the contemporary design community due to the speed and clamber for technological trend and trickery. I feel this misses the essence of what we can learn from designers such as Gerards. I think there is a desire within our industry to embrace this quiet, intelligent approach to briefs. Unfortunately, I’m not sure this is an approach necessarily shared from those directly outside the design process. We would all love to have clients and design briefs that allow the time and understanding to facilitate this approach. Perhaps then, we could all slow down a little and focus on making work with greater precision and craft. In the meantime, have a look at Piet Gerards work, hopefully you’ll like it as much as I did.

James Wakefield