Art Deco

LA Trance by Ben Radatz

I’m going to date myself with this post. Back in the early 1980’s, probably 80 or 81 I was at a shopping mall and happened to be in some store that sold home furnishings like plates, containers, small appliances, glassware and such.

The reason I remember this so well is because at the time I was blown away by row after row of teal, baby blue, and cinnamon-colored plastic items that looked like a mash-up of 1930’s art deco, and mid-century modern. It was as though the designer of this particular line of products had been channeling 1930’s Raymond Lowe and 1950’s George Nelson, and filtering them through 30 to 40 years of separation.

It was as though a faded memory of what these periods were like, or a memory that somehow blurred the line between the two periods and imposed a kitschy rendition of what it must have been like to have been there a few decades back.

This was common in the early 1980s. Look back at TV graphics from this period and you’ll see the same 1950s aesthetic applied with loads of pink, black, and teal all run through a New Wave blender creating a unique look that lasted a few years. Maybe I’m feeling more aware of this because of the album covers of bands I listened to back then.

Ah New Wave records from the early 1980s. 1980 to 1985 was such a good decade.

The reason I bring this up is that the video below brought all of this back to me this afternoon. The video itself is really well done, featuring some solid animation, great illustration qualities, and an electronic music soundtrack by Four Tet. The thing is though, it feels like a 2020 take on a 1980’s take of something from the 1950s. And there is nothing wrong with that. It just got me to thinking about all of the trends that get resurfaced, reworked, and filtered through decades of separation and made into something new.

The timing and transitions to the changes in the music are fantastic. The style of the illustration while reminiscent of something familiar to the late 1970s and early 1980s is original to Ben Radatz with an elegant look to them. The color pallet enhances the feeling of the 3 minute short and captures the city of Los Angeles. He even features Miss Donuts and Circus Liquor (an LA icon you should go if you are ever in the San Fernando Valley area)

Shadows in the Windows

With summer officially just a couple of months away, and rebuilding the patio on my project list, I’ve decided that I should probably get new patio furniture to go on it. I was thinking about getting the typical teak and metal stuff, but then I saw this set of chairs designed by Italian designer Andrea Ponti. They probably aren’t very comfortable, but damn they are sexy looking. There is something about them that reminds of that mid-1980’s design aesthetic that was a reinterpretation of 1930’s Art Deco known as Art Deco Revival. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Something about the forms, and maybe the color pallet. Anyway, I like them. I don’t care if you can’t lounge on them, or if the really aren’t that comfortable to sit on. They look great, almost like sculptural elements, or accents.

Ponti’s “Shadows in the Windows” is a project that portrays Hong Kong’s urban landscape through two symbolic elements: a window and a seat, in eight variations. The project is a metaphor of the architecture of urban density and represents the relationship among the individual, the product, and the urban landscape.

The window is the architectural element that best represents the concept of urban density. The seat by the window is a symbolic element that contributes to the representation of Hong Kong’s urban landscape. Eight seats, eight shadows in eight windows. The eight seats share the same design concept: a square window frame, the contour of a chair, clean lines, steel and ABS. Yet each seat is different and embodies a unique version of the design concept.

Shadows in the Windows will be introduced at 2017 Milan Design Week, April 4-9th, 2017, as part of the Superdesign Show at Superstudio Più.

Dead Flowers.

This morning while going through my weekly design reading list I came across some work by artist and designer Marcin Rusak. There is something so refreshing about the Art Deco aesthetic that he has applied to his Flora collection. The line of of furniture, feels like it could have been made in the 1920’s and at the same time feels fresh and unique, in part do to the choice of materials used. Rusak’s new line is constructed in part by using real flowers that have been encased in resin to form the primary sections of each piece. Accented with a muted brushed brass, the line takes on a new, yet vintage feel. The Flora collection features hand made brass structures with blown glass, black resin, and dried flowers. The flowers are cast in the resin, which over time will shrink slightly allowing small slivers of light to pass beside them.

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Dead Flowers Detail

Friday Font Find. Directors Gothic, and Programme.

Over the last few years there has been a trend toward hand lettering styles with the chalkboard look reach a white hot furry in the last year or so. That look dovetails onto the sketchbook look that was so  in design fashion a few years back, and in my opinion has jumped the shark. Maybe that is why I am drawn to a couple of new typefaces, one that is a redone classic from the 1930’s and another that is based on the Swiss International style.

Directors Gothic which is being offered by MyFonts was painstakingly developed from the original 1930s glass masters. The new digital set includes a full international character compliment, automatic fractionals, ordinals, and an impressively large assortment of alternate characters.

The original font was inspired by the Art Deco movement popular that had gained popularity toward the end of the 1920’s and early 1930’s.  Directors Gothic was designed with an eye toward expanded utility for use in advertising headline and smart corporate materials.  The redesigned font was created by Neil Summerour for Lettering Inc.

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Over the last 4 years Swiss design firm Maximage has developed Programme which is based on the geometry produced by computer programming, and calligraphy. Programme is an innovative typeface  that originated s two different versions, a more sophisticated softer form, and a more angular rougher version. Because the font is OpenType you are able to switch between versions and combine them into specific sets. Because Maximage designed the font with the computer in mind, the font is optimized for both display and text needs. I love the geometry of the letter forms here, and the combination of both styles adds just a bit of that retro 1980’s vibe that is starting to make some headway into design circles these days.

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