Well, that was fun!

*Dear MFA blog followers. There has been a delay in posting due to lack of wifi in Europe! Enjoy :)

Seemingly 5 minutes ago we arrived in Wilhelmshaven, Germany to begin Part2 of our international typography studies. And suddenly it was Saturday, eight days later, and our group had begun separating, heading for departures home and other new adventures.

Friday was our final day of class at Jade University. The Texas State MFA grad students presented their preliminary stages of research and design based on The Value of Design. Thursday was a fast and frantic day of assembling our presentations, and we felt quite prepared to show the students and professors our new work.

Jade students giving us their rapt attention
Jade students giving us their rapt attention

Lisa talked about applying a universal grid and branding system to international maps, via a website and ultimately an app. The discussion began with research about the Bauhaus and its influence on modern design, and led to Mosimmo Vignelli’s creation of the Unigrid as applied to the National Park Service. #unimap

{{photo tba}}

Zachary took a look at the the DINSchrift 1451 font as it was used for the Prussian railway branding around the beginning of the twentieth century. He then applied that method of branding to a new online voting webite that could be used universally.

Z explaining the importance of the DIN typefac
Z explaining the importance of the DIN typefac

Jordan gave us a brief history of the usage of semiotics, and how they are applied universally, specifically the 1972 Olympics and even the modern-day emoji. He showed his designs for the beginnings of a new icon system for grocery store and menu usage worldwide.

Jordan's new icons for world us
Jordan’s new icons for world use

Andrea provided a quick timeline and history of Starbucks, and seamlessly related their marketing process to a new breakfast taco restaurant—Kikiriki—that would have international appeal. The Texans in the room tried valiantly to express their love for tacos to the German group who had not experienced this tasty treat.

tacos > coffee for Andrea's flavorful branding
tacos > coffee for Andrea’s flavorful branding

Hector brought it all home with his discussion of the implications of Nike’s branding, and how it could be applied to a newer softer campaign to re-brand the state of Texas. #intexas

hector rebranding the state of texas
hector rebranding the state of texas

Professor Griner pulled out the Jade swag for us after our presentation. We got t-shirts, pencils, pens and a coffee mug. He and Claudia showed off their university t-shirts!

Goetz & Claudia showing school spirit!
Goetz & Claudia showing school spirit!

We were lucky to have Goetz and his student Robin join us for lunch, and later in the evening for a farewell dinner. And Claudia’s mom too!

Claudia's little momma joined us!
Claudia’s little momma joined us!

Some fun photos of our days in Wilhelmshaven:

andrea & lisa selfie on the last bus ride
andrea and lisa selfie
german ingenuity
german ingenuity
IMG_9616
group photo!
sunset on our last evening
sunset on our last evening

Work, eat, laugh, repeat

Our mornings usually have a unique personal encounter of some kind, almost always on the bus. Today it was at breakfast that we chatted with Angie and her husband from England. She was on a trip to meet her father for the first time, and he is 84. A truly hilarious and vivacious woman that we couldn’t help but love!

daily breakfast meeting at our hotel
daily breakfast meeting at our hotel

This was a good day. We have been working very hard on our projects about The Value of Design that we will present tomorrow morning to the Jade professor and his students. It will be fun to share what we have researched and designed. We may have been a little too harsh thorough in our critique of their work on Monday, so we are bracing ourselves for the backlash :) Actually we are looking forward to the dialogue with our full group.

z, hector and andrea at our work table
z, hector and andrea at our work table

Always our days center around the collection of food. We went to the opening day of a new supermarket, and for tourists like us, it was a real treat (or bag of treats.)

jordan buys the best treats
jordan buys the best snacks

cream team. cookies rule in germany.

And, the sun came out today! That’s a big deal after days of cold, rain and fog. The town came alive, and there was so much color.

wilhelmshaven is lit up
wilhelmshaven is lit up
our walk home after class
our walk home after class
those clouds though...
those clouds though…

Tomorrow is our last day, and then we will share our projects, and a few more stories with all our blog followers!

our gang at the bus stop
our gang at the bus stop

Doener Kebap, Gummies, Mensa Cafe

This morning we made a quick stop at the Wattenmeer Museum to collect steal amass gather some maps of the Wilhelmshaven area for Lisa’s project. And also because they are just great maps. While there, we met this wolf, bear, hyena or prehistoric dog.

zachary risking his life while we collected maps
zachary risking his life while we collected maps

Like any college student, much of our day revolves around the gathering and eating of food. We are not ashamed of this. Breakfast is usually bread (toast this week!) with butter—because butter in Europe—maybe some fruit and a lot of coffee. For lunch the Mensa Cafe on the Jade campus is unusually cheap, less than 3euros for a huge tray of food, and it’s very good. There are snacks for our work table—gummies, chocolate and animal cookies.

animal crackers. because grad students can be toddlers too.
animal crackers. because grad students can be toddlers too

Probably the clear winner in the favorite food category on the Germany trip overall are the döner kebaps. There’s no way to accurately describe this mess of deliciousness (at least for those meat-eaters in the group). I think we will all agree that this is Hector’s favorite.

döner kebab. it's what's for dinner.
döner kebap. it’s what’s for dinner.

Today we made great individual progress on our projects for The Value of Design. There will be exciting things to share with you on Friday! Great thinking, conversation and maybe even some thesis development occurred. We talked about Nike, Starbucks, tacos, semiotics, online voting and maps. This is a great group, and we are so lucky to have Claudia guiding us into deeper thinking and better design, and always putting us on the right bus.

zachary & claudia, serious discussion
zachary & claudia serious discussion
jordan, deep thoughts
jordan, deep thoughts
lisa mapping the process
lisa mapping the process

Speaking of our bus rides, there could not be a more interesting social experiment than public transportation in Wilhelmshaven. This morning we met the most wonderful, engaging woman from Spain who has lived in this little town for 50 years. We felt as if we knew her as a friend in a mere 15 minutes. And on our return trip at the end of the day, a boy of only 10 years old engaged us in three languages: English (“Are y’all from England?), Polish and German. Okaaaay.

bus ride with the locals
bus ride with the wonderful locals

Also we met Claudia’s momma tonite! Well, at least on Skype.

claudia and her cute little momma
claudia and her cute little momma

A little reminder of the quaintness that we experience each day in our little slice of heaven:

watching the bridge swing open
watching the bridge swing open

And one last visual for day—one of the blackface typefaces that we see each day!

just a common typeface here in germany :)
just a common typeface here in germany :)

 

The Value of Design: An Exploration

On our morning travel to the university, we were halted as the Wilhelm Kaiser Bridge began its action to swing open allowing the military ship to make its ways through the waterway for demagnetizing or degaussing. Though worried we might miss our bus and be late for school, we were mesmerized by the process as the bridge turned sideways to allow the ship to be towed through.

swinging the bridge open for a ship to pass
swinging the bridge open for a ship to pass
our morning walk to the bus across this beautiful bridge
morning walk across this beautiful bridge

The bus rides in the morning have taken a mysterious turn as sweet little ladies sit next to Jordan. Inexplicable. Darling.

ladies in purple coats like to sit by jordan
ladies in purple coats like to sit by jordan

Upon arrival at class, the Jade students who are the other half of our Design Synergy class gave us presentations of their work on their interpretations of The Value of Design. We were so impressed by our new German-speaking friends—who presented to us in English. We feel a little bad that we can’t reciprocate by showing our work to them on Friday in German. Tanya #2 prototyped a better, lighted screwdriver. Robin coined the phrase of the day with “Keep it Krunchy” to describe his milk and cereal separator bowl invention. Tanya #1 showed us an updated website for her alma mater Marien Gymnasium, and Lisa (now known as Lisa #2) refreshed the Kreissportbund Friesland sports website.

Tanja #2 designed a lighted screwdriver
Tanja #2 designed a lighted screwdriver
Robin #keepitkrunchy cereal bowl
Robin and his #keepitkrunchy cereal bowl
Tanja #1 detailing her website redesign
Tanja #1 detailing her website redesign for an international school
 Lisa #2 presenting a new and improved website design for Kreissportbund
Lisa #2 presenting a new and improved website design for Kreissportbund

The TXState crew continued working on projects after lunch. We made good progress through our discussions about the value of design and its applications on new or existing brands and products. The exploration is challenging to each of us in unique ways and the research is allowing us to combine our ideas and thoughts on international design and what it means in this process of discovery. It will be exciting to see what we come up with—and present on Friday.

A wonderful day of learning was ended with fantastic food and shared laughter, and of course, a little yoga. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s adventures in typography and design!

new friends, great evening
new friends, great evening
lisa's yoga pose of the day :)
lisa #1 and her yoga pose of the day :)

Germany Part 2: International Design Synergy

Friday was our group’s last day in Amsterdam, and the end of our road trip for the Typography class. If you have been following along, you’ll know we started in Berlin, attended a type conference, visited all three Bauhaus locations, met with designers, then made our way to the Netherlands and The Hague for the final portion of our type tour. We made new friends, got to know each other better, connected through silly jokes, had some serious design conversation then ended our time together with a great meal, and a {little} wine. Parting is sweet sorrow, and we missed Lindsay, Carla and Brooke as they returned home and as we completed this portion of our class! 

#typetour2016 photo cred: hector, who never likes to be in the photo :)
#typetour2016 photo cred: hector, who never likes to be in the photo :)

Saturday morning Claudia, Lisa, Zachary and Hector took a train ride to Wilhelmshaven, Germany to begin our new learning adventures at the Jade Hochschule. We arrived at the cutest town and a wonderful sweet hotel on the beach, directly on the North Sea. It could not possibly be more idyllic. Two more students, Jordan and Andrea joined us Saturday evening. We settled in over food, drinks and conversation, then allowed them to catch up on their jet lag!

Also, Europe wouldn’t be right if it didn’t start something like this:

croissant breakfast per usual
europe croissant breakfast per usual

 

our hotel on the north sea!
our hotel on the north sea!

Sunday hinted at being a stormy day, but we took a ferry to Spiekeroog Island, just an hour north anyway. Our connection and university professor at Jade, Goetz Greiner, served not only as our chauffeur, but also a most excellent host and tour guide as he and his student Robin spent the entire day with us on what ended up being a SUNNY day. We all became fast friends while we hiked and walked the beach, and laughed on the ferry rides.

students on the ferry ride across the sea!
students on the ferry ride across the sea!

 

lisa and andrea at the ferry port
lisa and andrea at the ferry port

 

claudia and hector. thug life at the beach.
claudia and hector. thug life at the beach

Later we saw some preening peacocks. Very beautiful and mesmerizing.

peacock in full regalia
peacock in full regalia

While food and drink and ferry rides and walks on the beach and colorful birds have nothing to do with design, it was this shared bonding, commonality of cultures and cultivated discussion that gave us a wonderful start to our work week.

Monday, our first day of school, began early with our travel by bus to the university where we met with Goetz and had a little tour of the buildings. After he set us up in our workroom we started right in on our project about design values! Tomorrow we will meet with the other half of our international design team.

It was a great day full of more great design conversation, and friendship-building. Check back to read about more of our adventures this week!

design discussion in our workroom
design discussion in our workroom

 

lunchroom signage at jade
lunchroom signage at jade

 

thug life part deux. #schietwetter
thug life part deux #schietwetter

 

bridge walk in at the end of the day
bridge walk in at the end of the day

 

 

Books and tech in The Hague

On Thursday we took an hour train ride south of Amsterdam to The Hague. We were able to meet with two professionals from opposite ends of the historical spectrum.

Our first stop was at The Museum of the Book. We were able to look at the museums treasured international collection of historical books, bindings and other antiquities.

 

Museum Meermanno // House of the Book
Museum Meermanno // House of the Book

Museum Meermanno // House of the Book
Page of the Gutenberg Bible // House of the Book

 

Original hand drawn type specimen
Original hand drawn type specimen // House of the Book

Our second and final meeting in The Hague was with Thomas Castro of Lust Studio. Lust has been designing on the edge of technology since the 90’s. Thomas shared with us Lust’s forward thinking as well as some of their past projects. It was energizing to talk shop with this group and to hear their perspective on design theory. 

Lust Bible // Lust.nl
Lust Bible // photo source: Lust.nl

Scraper Type // photo source: Lust.nl
Scraper Type // photo source: Lust.nl

Scraper Type // photo source: Lust.nl
Scraper Type // photo source: Lust.nl

It’s been an incomparable experience meeting with such talented design professionals whose theory, process and aesthetic are so different, yet hold their own as far as importance to our discipline. If I had to choose one take-away from this trip that stood out, it would be that the current state of design is moving forward quickly yet yearning for criticism, leadership, respect and passion. We are eager to solve the problems handed to us while respecting the past and embracing the future of design, technology and typography.

Next stop… Wilhelmshaven, Germany!

Hello from Amsterdam!

One 5am wake up call and six hour train ride later, we made it to Amsterdam. One thing we can all agree on here is the shortage of available wifi has made us revert back to actually having conversations in public spaces. Our down time has been filled with many interesting and thought provoking design conversations. 

Our first stop in Amsterdam was Studio Joost Grootens. Joost has visited us in San Marcos before, but it was an invaluable experience to chat with him in his own studio. He and his colleague, Dimitri Jeannottat showed us some of their favorite pieces. We had an interesting conversation on the “definition” of a book and what inspires Joost and his team to keep creating. Needless to say, we all looked forward to the show-and-tell of Joost and his team’s inspiring creations.

 

Joost Grootens // Jean Nottattat
Joost Grootens // Dimitri Jeannottat

Talking atlases with Joost Grootens
Talking atlases with Joost Grootens

 

After our chat with Joost, we took a quick tour of the impeccable Centrale Bibliotheek Amsterdam (the Amsterdam public library). The  library is ten floors of books, art installations, private study spaces, meeting areas and breathtaking architecture.  

Centrale Bibliotheek
Centrale Bibliotheek // Amsterdam

Z & Brooke // Centrale Bibliotheek
Z & Brooke // Centrale Bibliotheek 

We spent the rest of the day acclimating ourselves to Amsterdam and catching our breath from the 1 million stairs at our hotel.

Stairs at Hotel Nadia
Stairs at Hotel Nadia

Thursday morning we were able to meet with author and book historian, Mathieu Lommen. Mathieu works as the graphic design curator in the Special Collections department of the Amsterdam University Library. We felt very privileged to be able to see some of his treasured collection of type specimen and rare printed books…some dating back to early 15th century.

Mathieu Lommen // Amsterdam University Library
Mathieu Lommen // Amsterdam University Library

Type Specimen // Amsterdam University Library
Type Specimen // Amsterdam University Library

 

Type Specimen
Type Specimen // Amsterdam University Library

Type Specimen // Amsterdam University Library
Type Specimen // Amsterdam University Library

Type Specimen // Amsterdam University Library
Type Specimen // Amsterdam University Library

Book Design // Irma Boom
Book Design // Irma Boom

Book Design // Irma Boom
Book Design // Irma Boom

 

We then headed south to visit Bas Jacobs at Underware. Bas talked with us about the important relationship that the letter form has not only within itself, but with the space around it. His passion and unique approach to type design lead us into a great conversation about about the current state and future of type design. He also showed us a bit of what he and his team at Underware are currently working on as well. Their work continues to inspire all of us.

Bas Jacobs // Under Ware
Bas showing us the way a letter form can take a different form in our mind depending on the context

Liza typeface by Underware
Liza typeface by Underware

Custom Typeface design by Underware
Custom Typeface design by Underware… Book printed with actual blood from the author

 

Our last visit of the day on Thursday was with type designer Diana Ovezea. Diana shared with us some of the exercises she uses to explore letter forms in calligraphy as well as some of her current work.

Diana Ovezea
Diana Ovezea

We’ve enjoyed our visits in Amsterdam and have learned some interesting and inspiring approaches to type, letterforms and their application. 

Studio Visits // Berlin

While in Berlin, we were able to meet with Martina Flor and the Herbarim Riso Studio.

Martina Flor creates beautiful hand-lettering. She took the time to sit with us and explain her process, inspiration and answer our questions. With just one look at her work, one can see the passion she has for her craft and we were so honored to be able to talk with her about it in person. We’re also excited about her book that comes out in June!

 

Talking Hand lettering with Martina Flor
Talking hand lettering with Martina Flor in Berlin

Martina shows us some of her sketches
Martina shows us some of her (beautiful!) sketches

A personal branding project of Martina's
A personal branding project of Martina’s

Treats // Martina Flor
Treats // Martina Flor

 

While in Berlin, we were also able to check out the work and extensive library at the Herbarim Riso Studio. The library showcases the uniquely beautiful work that the Riso machine can produce with a talented designer behind the wheel. We were also impressed with the multiple types of bindings and folding techniques used to create these colorful pieces. 

Checking out the library // Herbarium Riso
Checking out the library // Herbarim Riso

Some pieces from the library // Herbarium Riso
Some pieces from the library // Herbarium Riso

A piece from the library // Herbarium Riso
A piece from the library // Herbarium Riso

Bauhaus // Weimar, Dessau & Berlin

To some, the Bauhaus is known as the catalyst to the modernist movement. Suprisingly, to many locals and non-designers, it is just a local university or museum. So many principals of Bauhaus design are still in use today. Collaboration with other design disciplines, the use of available materials to cut costs, minimalism and the use of the golden ratio are among many of the theories and best practices that are still utilized in today’s modern design process. We had the opportunity to visit the three locations of the Bauhaus while visiting Germany.

Hops on the train to the Bauhaus
View from the train to the Bauhaus

 

Bauhaus Weimar 1919 – 1922 

Bauhaus Weimar Facade
Bauhaus Weimar

Foyer Bauhaus Weimer
Foyer where Gropius would give important lectures // Bauhaus Weimar

Carla & Z // Bauhaus Weimar
Carla & Z // Bauhaus Weimar

 

Art depicting motion in the hall // Bauhaus Weimer
Art depicting motion in the hall // Bauhaus Weimar

 

Bauhaus Dessau 1923 – 1932

Z Brooke Bauhaus Dessau
Z & Brooke // Bauhaus Dessau

Balconies // Bauhaus Dessau
Balconies // Bauhaus Dessau

Munche/ Schlmmer Master House // Dessau
Munche & Schlemner Master House // Dessau

Directors Office // Bauhaus Dessau
Directors Office // Bauhaus Dessau

 

Bauhaus Berlin 1932 – 1933

Bauhaus Berlin
Bauhaus Berlin

 

Roof Structures // Bauhaus Berlin
Roof Structures // Bauhaus Berlin

 

It was amazing to see in person, what most of us have only seen in our design history books. Now onward to our Berlin studio visits!

Typo Berlin 2016 // Day 3

Saturday was the final day of the 2016 Typo Berlin Conference. 

We learned a perspective on the creative process from the head of BMW’s product development, Karim Habib. 

BMW
Karim Habib, Head of BMW Design

We talked web based fonts with Tobias Frere-Jones.

Tobias Frere-Jones
Tobias Frere-Jones

We “cooked” up some hand lettering in Erik van Blokland and Paul van Der Laan’s Type Cooker workshop. 

Zachary
Z’s lettering using techniques we learned in the workshop

We have a new found love and appreciation for calligraphy.

Calligraphy
Blackletter Calligraphy Workshop

As a whole, we took away a vast array of new knowledge from international typographers, designers and industry influencers. Our skill set for hand lettering and sketching improved and our minds were challenged to approach design decisions in ways we had never thought of. This was a wonderful way to begin our trip. We’re inspired and looking forward to our studio visits and trips to the Bauhaus!