- 27th International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno 2016
BB Can you tell us a bit about the background of Tools of Imagination?
DK & AvL The project dealing with Aldo van Eyck playgrounds came up due to the huge gap we felt in playground design since the times of Aldo van Eyck. Looking at the catalogue playground design that seems to have become the standard nowadays, we felt the need to research, compare and criticize what playgrounds look like today. When starting the project we could not find any other publication that was dealing with this problem in a constructive way. This important topic was not explored enough and we had a motivation to open up the discussion with everyone. We were collaborating together during our studies in the Rietveld Academie and this naturally continued after our graduation show, mainly with the project Seventeen Playgrounds – Aldo van Eyck.
BB How did you come across the architecture of Aldo van Eyck, and specifically his children playground designs? What intrigued you about them?
DK & AvL We were looking for a project that would be dear to us and that would connect with our initial starting-points as creative beings. Playground as a place where creativity is explored, imagination is supported and games invented, where the child is considered as a citizen of the city. In the beginning we fell in love with the aesthetic qualities that the playgrounds by Aldo van Eyck have, when looking at the city scape in Amsterdam. Humanity of his designs and the ability of this project to reach everyone from young children to all generations, was a great inspiration to us. When looking at our previous work, we found many elements of our interest – architecture, public space, urbanism, which were all perfectly combined in the project of van Eyck’s playground design. Throughout the years van Eyck developed a web of over seven hundred playgrounds scattered across the city, in order to give children their own recognizable domain. Of these hundreds of playgrounds you can nowadays only find a few remaining play elements. We cared that this change will not go unnoticed, which served us as a great starting-point of this project.
BB How does the project you have prepared for the Off Programme fit into the larger context of your practice? Are you working on something related?
DK & AvL The philosophy of Aldo van Eyck was a great starting-point but we took all the freedom to develop new and autonomous works. With every new project we try to invent another way of how to spread our missions and experiment with new forms of presenting it to a wider public. Our project consists of many different media, such as publication, video work, soundscape experiment, lectures, illustrations. Recently we got more assignments to work on exhibitions and public space, which is always a great challenge for us. When possible, we try to cooperate with other artists, architects and designers since that brings a lot of new understanding for the project.
BB This edition of the Brno Biennial responds to the metamorphoses and the state of contemporary graphic design; its multitude, variety, vagueness and apparent superficiality. Can you identify some of the basic parameters, current themes or motivations of contemporary graphic design?
DK & AvL To be honest, we do not really track contemporary graphic design. Maybe we could better respond to this question when looking at the state of contemporary architecture, playground design and issues of public space. We spent great amount of time reading and finding a literature we are interested in reading, therefore we tend to avoid spending more time on computer than necessary. We surf offline more than online. We use graphic design as an urgent need to communicate what we feel is missing and as a medium to explore, play and open up discussion. We try to keep a healthy balance between moments of fun when enjoying the process and the amount of responsibility which a project should carry. Graphic design and its freedom has a great power to transform social issues and act politically. It would be a pity to not to use it.
Denisa Kollarová lives and works in Amsterdam, where she and Anna van Lingen began their collaboration after graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2013. Ruins, public spaces, social architecture, city mapping and utopian architectural planning are core topics which keep her curiosity alive in various books, exhibitions and lectures. In addition to Seventeen Playgrounds her ongoing projects include Under My Own Construction of Ruins and Migration of Form.
Anna van Lingen is a graphic designer working on a number of self-initiated projects which investigate town planning, architecture and the ageing of cities and buildings. She works closely with Denisa Kollarová, on an ongoing project centered on children’s play and playspaces. At the beginning of 2016 Seventeen Playgrounds, a guide to Aldo van Eyck’s designs for children in the centre of Amsterdam was published by Lecturis as a result of their research. Anna van Lingen finished her studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in 2013 and lives and works in Amsterdam.
Short interviews with collaborators of the 27th Brno Biennial, authors of its exhibitions, jury members and Biennial Talks speakers.
Interviews and graphic design: Radim Peško Radim Peško (1976) is a graphic designer based in London. He works in the field of type design, editorial and exhibition projects. In 2010 he has established his RP Digital Type Foundry that specializes on typefaces that are both formally and conceptually distinctive. His work includes identity for Secession Vienna, typefaces for identities of Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Aspen Art Museum, Fridericianum, Berlin Biennale 8, various work for the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Bedford Press London or a long-term collaboration with artist Kateřina Šedá. He has lectured at many schools including Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam, ÉCAL Lausanne, HFK Bremen, KISD Cologne, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon, Sint-Lucas Ghent, University of Seoul. Since 2011 he is part of the curatorial board of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Tomáš Celizna Tomáš Celizna (1977) is interested in graphic design in connection with new technologies. He is a founding partner of design studio dgú in Prague (2001 to 2005), recipient of J. W. Fulbright Scholarship (2006), and holds MFA in graphic design from Yale University School of Art (2008). He currently lives and works independently in Amsterdam. Collaborations include, among others, OASE Journal for Architecture, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Since 2011 he is a lecturer in graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Adam Macháček Adam Macháček (1980) is a graphic designer. Following studies at the AAAD in Prague, Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and ÉCAL in Lausanne, he co-founded in 2004 studio Welcometo.as in Lausanne and is a member of 201∞ Designers collective. His work includes publications, exhibition catalogues, illustrations and identities. Collaborations include, among others, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Théâtre de Vevey (seasons 2003–2012), Galerie Rudolfinum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chronicle Books, Editions Pyramyd, Museum of Czech Literature, Brno House of Arts, California College of the Arts, Airbnb. For Brno Biennial he initiated and organized exhibitions Work from Switzerland (2004) and From Mars (2006, together with Radim Peško). Since 2011 he is a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno. He lives and works in Berkeley.
Translation and copy editing: Alena Benešová, Kateřina Tlachová
Production: Miroslava Pluháčková
Printed by: Tiskárna Helbich s. r. o.
Print run: 2000
Published by the Moravian Gallery in Brno, 2016