Off the Grid
Belgian Graphic Design from the 1960s and 1970s as Seen by Sara De Bondt
From 25 October 2019, Design Museum Gent will explore the history of graphic design in Belgium, more specifically of Belgian graphic design from the sixties and seventies. The exhibition features a cornucopia of original printed materials, logo objects, book objects, and posters and was inspired by the ongoing doctoral studies of graphic designer Sara De Bondt at KASK & Conservatorium (HOGENT - Howest). It is part of the museum’s new Graphic Design
programming initiative, which aims to put historic and contemporary Belgian graphic design in the spotlight.
Jeanine Behaeghel, poster, 1965
The exhibition starts from a turning point in Belgium, i.e. the iconic 1958 World Expo in Brussels, and ends in the early eighties, with the emergence of PCs, which had a huge influence on how graphic designers work. Curator Sara De Bondt used her own practice as a starting point for her selection, organising the objects in the exhibition according to ten key principles that are also relevant in her own work: economy of means, format, colour, education, pattern, surface, collaboration, seriality, social relevance, and typography.
When combined, these concepts offer an approach to graphic design, helping to establish relationships and identify differences. In addition to this, they are also a solid guideline for exploring an exciting, albeit relatively unknown past, an aspect the title also refers to. Grids are essential tools for the layout of text and images. Off the Grid, however, refers to the fact that the history of graphic design in Belgium is uncharted territory for the most part. Sara De Bondt combines the creations of well-known and lesser-known designers, such as Sophie Alouf, Fernand Baudin, Jeanine Behaeghel, Rob Buytaert, Boudewijn Delaere, Corneille Hannoset, Paul Ibou, Herman Lampaert, Luk Mestdagh and many others in this exhibition, which is subdivided into ten themes.
More than an overview
The exhibition does not aim to provide a historical overview of a specific period. Sara De Bondt has her own, international practice as a graphic designer. She studies how we can better understand contemporary aspects of graphic design, such as hybridity and authorship, from a historical perspective. Her selection of historic and a number of new works is shown in an exhibition architecture that was designed as part of a collaboration with the British (furniture) designer Michael Marriott.
A large chunk of the graphic design from that era has been lost. Brochures were disposed of, ended up in archives or were shredded. In the case of larger commissions, only the posters were often preserved. Unfortunately, these posters only made up a fraction of the original commission in many cases. Sara De Bondt has interviewed some of the designers whose work is on display, to make their work accessible and preserve it for posterity. Sophie Alouf, Rob Buytaert, Boudewijn Delaere, Herman Lampaert and Paul Ibou discuss their work with her. The public can watch these videos during the exhibition, after which they will be added to the museum’s archive.
Paul Ibou, Metamorphosis, book, 1968
Discussions with graphic designers
The unknown history of Belgian graphic design is a perfect opportunity for (re-)discoveries. You can do this in the museum’s galleries as well as during the This is talks, with contributions by Belgian and international graphic designers. From 14 November until 13 February, Design Museum Gent will host this series of talks, in collaboration with KASK & Conservatorium (HOGENT – Howest). Speakers include Common Interest, Girls Like Us / MMS / Sara Kaaman, Hilde Pauwels / Jan Ceuleers / Jean-Michel Myers, James Langdon, Jo De Baerdemaeker / Katrien Van Houte / Nina Serulus. The programme is subject to change and will be published online soon at www.this-is.be.
On 24 November, Sara will also host a guided tour of the exhibition, in the company of Rob Buytaert, Herman Lampaert and Boudewijn Delaere, which is another unique opportunity.
Don’t forget to save the date of 25 January 2020 when Phantom Radio will be broadcasting from 10 am till 6 pm from DING Vitrine (2, Drabstraat) as part of a marathon radio session. Thirty graphic designers will talk about their work or an object. You can only hear this radio broadcast in the museum. Visitors can listen to it afterwards.
From 16 November 2019 until 16 February 2020, the billboard in Drabstraat will also showcase logos by designers whose work is featured in the exhibition.
Sara De Bondt is a graphic designer, teacher and publisher.
Recent commissions include the identity of Taipei Biennial 2018, a catalogue for Jessica Stockholder at Centraal Museum Utrecht, exhibition graphics for the Wellcome Collection London and books for Kunsthal Bergen, Haus der Kunst Munich and MO.CO Montpellier.
In 2008, she founded publishing company Occasional Papers together with Antony Hudek, and since then has co-edited three of its books: The Master Builder: Talking with Ken Briggs, The Form of the Book Book and Graphic Design: History in the Writing (1983–2011).
Sara has given lectures in design conferences around the world, and is a member of AGI. She previously taught at Central Saint Martins and The Royal College, both in London, and currently does research and teaches at KASK & Conservatorium (HOGENT - Howest). Her research is funded by the HOGENT Arts Research Fund.
Off the Grid. Belgian Graphic Design from the 1960s and 1970s as Seen by Sara De Bondt
25.10.2019 – 16.02.2020
Admission: € 8 / € 6 / € 2
Open on weekdays from 9:30 until 17:30
Open on weekends, on public holidays and during school holidays from 10:00 until 18:00
Closed on Wednesday
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