Welcome to our own private utopia, where for 160 pages we indulge in a sweeping interpretation of a topic that has fascinated people—not just designers—for centuries. The term “utopia” was first coined in the 1500s by Sir Thomas More, who borrowed from the Greek ou-topos, meaning “no place.” And yet, when you consider utopia in relation to design, the immediate association is one rooted in a place in time, namely, in the histories of the Bauhaus and Constructivism, both of which have recently celebrated their 100th anniversaries. In this issue, we look back at these movements before we look forward, and ask the question, “Do those singular, idealistic visions of modern design still have a place in our world?”
This is not a yes-or-no question, and issue #06 of Eye on Design Magazine explores the theme “utopias,” with nuanced stories and design that takes you to some surprising places. We start in London, where modernist architecture failed to meet the needs of its inhabitants—which, in this case, happened to be zoo animals. Moving to the other side of the city more than half a century later, we visit publishing group OOMK, run by three women who are employing a ground-up approach to collective space with their open-access print studio. In New York, we follow student protesters and their decade-long fight to save one of the last U.S. colleges to offer free tuition; and in Ahmedabad we look back at the school that produced some of India’s most ubiquitous branding.
We also seek out individuals who are quite literally building the world in which they’d like to live. In a small Canadian town, the cartoonist Seth lives in a house that looks like it sprung straight from one of his graphic novels set in the 1940s—every nicknack, appliance, piece of furniture, and even his signature wardrobe. Meanwhile, in Johannesburg, creative Rendani Nemakhavhani looks toward the future with her alter-ego The Honey, portraying the type of South African woman she’d like to see more of. With a plurality of perspectives from around the world, it’s clear that there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
For this issue we invited Na Kim to be our guest designer. Her work draws from the bold modern designs of the early 20th century, while also remaining fluid and dynamic—perfectly suited to our notion of plurality.