Esther Klingbiel, Beneath Language: Visualizing Emotion Through Design

Plus, big news from the folks at Post Typography and RISD launches its 2019 student yearbook. For more along these lines (and so many others) you can follow along all day, every day on Instagram @AIGAeyeondesignFacebook, and Twitter @AIGAeyeondesign.

1. Design Can

Design Can is a new online campaigning platform that aims to foster more inclusivity in the UK design industry—which is currently 78% male, with only 13% of employees from BAME backgrounds, and women making up just 17% of senior design roles, according to a 2018 report from the Design Council. “There are few comparable statistics for people with disabilities, none that are recent or particular to the design industry, and that is an imminent concern,” says the Design Can team, which is made up of a group of designers, editors and activists including Icon magazine editor Priya Khanchandani, artist and designer Yinka Ilori, Ella Ritchie (co-founder of Intoart), Ansel Neckles and Steph McLaren-Neckles (founders of Let’s Be Brief) and Dr. Jane Norris (associate professor of creative and digital culture, Richmond University).

The platform uses five sections—read, watch, listen, follow, attend—all aiming to offer an “inclusive view of the booming design industry” and “champion emerging and established designers… For those looking to organize a panel, an exhibition or just experience an inclusive view of the design world, this will be a source for reports, portfolios, and knowledge to empower change,” says the team. Design Can also boasts a manifesto demanding a better, inclusive industry, and You Can, a set of practical actions for allies and mentors.

The platform was designed and built by Not Flat 3 and developed into a campaign and online tool by communications agency Zetteler.  “For the Design Can identity, Not Flat 3 wanted to balance the urgency of this conversation with playful optimism,” says Zetteler. “The ‘can’ motif acts as a symbol of the hidden potential waiting to burst into the forefront of the industry. The choices behind the typeface communicate their global outlook—with Recoleta from Mexican foundry Latinotype, and Yoshida Sans which was developed by London’s Typeunion inspired by the Tokyo subway system.”

2. RISD Yearbook

Every year, the RISD Design Guild creates a new concept and design for the school’s graduating class’ yearbook, which is always student-designed. For the 2019 book, the theme was Toolkit, with each student spelling out their name using a set of alphabet stencils and answering the question “What’s in your toolkit?” 

“The yearbook was an extensive project for the Design Guild, as it challenged us to be inclusive and interactive within the book and also during the process,” says designer Stephanie Winarto, part of the Design Guild team. “Our collaboration extended beyond just our team of designers, but with photographers, printers, teachers, and our student body of extremely talented and unique artists, whose personalities altogether made the yearbook.” 

3. Esther Klingbiel, Beneath Language: Visualizing Emotion Through Design

A very cool project here from recent Parsons School of Design grad Esther Klingbiel. Inspired by the work of artist Sol LeWitt, the project explores the ways in which emotion could be visualized through design and strict sets of rules. Taking the form of a perfect bound book that uses typefaces AG Old Face and Ehrhardt MT Std, the project began with asking why, when we have visual symbols and systems to help us understand the natural world, science, mathematics, and language, “no such visual system exists” to denote “emotion and mental illness.” Klingbiel set about proposing a series of visual systems that look to relocate the experience of certain states of emotion. “I am also looking to translate the common practices of modern day psychology and psychiatry into these systems,” she says. “It is a bridge between the highly structured, rule- and fact-based world of clinical psychology and a potentially structured practice of design.” She adds that as a “methodological designer” she uses rules as a fine artist might, and that “the outcome of my work is not the most important aspect of whatever I create.”

4. Joe Cruz, Scanner Portraits

We’re longtime lovers of the work of Joe Cruz over here on Eye on Design, and it’s bonkers we’ve not covered his work since the heady days of 2017. We’re also fans of Seven Sisters in north London, a stone’s throw from where this senior editor’s based; so imagine our luck when we discovered Cruz has recently been documenting the artistic community in the area through a series of portraits created using a domestic scanner. In a small but significant departure from his distinctive usual style of mark-making over processed imagery, Cruz has been “photocopying” his subjects and in doing so created a brilliantly unusual, abstracted mode of portraiture. There’s a real intimacy to the works, which manage to showcase character and personality through strange crops of perhaps just a midriff or hand.

“For me, the intimacy of the scanner leads to quite beautiful, poised compositions and often with dramatic lighting conditions reminiscent of traditional oil painting techniques, but in my case representing contemporary life and its many characters,” says Cruz.

5. Topos Graphics and Post Typography announce new venture

Seth Labenz (Topos Graphics), Nolen Strals (Post Typography), Bruce Willen (Post Typography), Roy Rub (Topos Graphics)

Post Typography has announced a new agency partnership with Topos Graphics. The venture is being led by Seth Labenz and Roy Rub, founders of Topos Graphics, whose client list includes The Jewish Museum New York, MoMA PS1, and Oolite Arts. The move will see Post Typography co-founders Bruce Willen and Nolen Strals “step into an advisory role while they pursue new opportunities and projects,” says the team. “They will continue to work with select clients and lead high-profile projects in collaboration with Topos Graphics and independently.” Nice pic, lads.