An Uebelevable Day in Stuttgart

The alarm starts it’s beautiful melody, eyes slowly open welcoming the morning light and although it is hard to push yourself out of bed, there is so much to look forward to in the day ahead. Looking out the open hotel window, you can see rain collecting on the rooftops, the spitter spatter of droplets hitting the ceramic rooftops. A cool breeze hits your face and there is a crisp lightness in the air. A perfect morning for our trip to Stuttgart.


Once in Stuttgart, I was given the task of directing us to Büro Uebele. With a few missteps, which I completely blame on the phone not understanding the direction in which I am standing, we were on our 20 minute walk. We arrived at what appeared to be a gated driveway. Claudia buzzed the office and Carolin Himmel, a partner of the studio, met the group outside. She directed us to a small office building with colorful patio furniture sitting outside. The building looked like an enlarged green house with large glass doors, a glass rooftop and growing ideas inside. 

Carolin brought us inside the creative workspace. This studio is a firm believer in printing and testing every element of the work, so what seemed like every project was on display. There were hand cut letters hanging from the ceiling, each one a different typeface, showing potential sign options for the client. Posters were magneted to every surface of the wall behind the workspace — each one showcasing the beauty and understanding of typography that this agency held.

andreas uebele walked in after we had been shown a few of the projects currently being worked upon. He wore a black shirt, a pair of blue jeans and black rimmed glasses. In his arms he carried samples of signage for his team. Much like our day so far, there was a lightness within his movements. Although each one was exactly as planned, he brightened the conversations with his honesty and lightheartedness. 


 uebele scrunched his brow or contorted his mouth, traits that always displayed what he was thinking. He would explain the detail that went into every system that they developed — especially with a focus on scalability. Sitting on the workstation, fresh pretzel in hand, uebele would laugh about timelines, results, or the interesting things that happened during the work. 

“We design with conversation,” uebele casually says as the designers sitting around the ten workstations raise their heads as if non-verbally agreeing with these words of wisdom, from first hand experience. We were invited to each work station to talk with uebele and the designer who then ran us through the projects they were / had been working on. It was the perfect way to showcase the respect that this renowned designer has for his staff.

Finally, we had the opportunity to sit with andreas to ask questions and get to know more about his philosophies. 

“Be honest. Be honest to yourself and be honest to your talents”

With that, our time was up. We said our goodbye, but not before buying a new book, which was 6 years in the making, featuring the studio’s amazing work.

It was time to move to our next stop. Claudia pulled the the papers which marked our itinerary for the rest of the day. Each piece of paper was carefully protected from the elements in a clear acrylic sleeve. Strichpunkt studio was where we were headed.

The front lobby was a large open area which welcomed visitors with words and fantastical photos sprawling the walls. Large illuminated letters spawned the length of the front desk, creating an atmosphere, as Yocelyn phrased it, that was very buzzfeed.


An employee zoomed into the creative office on a scooter while we waited for Eve Thiessies and Thomas Michelbach to come greet us. As we journeyed to a conference room we passed stations with computers and employees hard at work. The studio’s current project bookended the workstations. Type and icons followed us along the walls as we walked past. No information was given as to what we were passing — that was to be saved for later during our tour.

Eve and Thomas sat us down at a large table, Thomas wheeling the chair backwards before he took his seat with us. “Hi Texas” displayed on the TV in stark black against a yellow background. We were given a brief overview of the company founded in 1996 and their focus on three main components: Design, Tech and Research.


This studio focuses mostly on Brand Development and the Brand Experience, which is somewhat of a shift from the books and annual reports that they are known for. But don’t worry, they still create those beautiful printed items for clients. Thomas and Eve walked us through the projects they were working on and how the process works within the office. Strichpunkt helped Audi with a digital brand development which included a plethora of elements, like buttons and links, and the most amazing element is the code is all open source. 

Utilizing the idea of Atomic Design, a process in which you build the smaller components then create larger components utilizing the smaller ones and you just keep building upon this principle, Strichpunkt displayed consistency, clarity and ease of use to the client. And although the work shown was a mix of both digital and traditional, a statement was clearly expressed that “Brand experience is media independent.”

Before we went on a tour of the studio space which included a ping-pong table, kitchen area and tons of creative workspaces, we were able to ask a few questions to our presenters. Simply put, the questions were in regards to what Strichpunkt looks for when hiring. After some careful thought they responded, “it’s not just the tools, it’s what you bring and your mindset. You may not have everything, but as long as you have the correct mindset.”


That was all the time we had left in Stuttgart. Tomorrow we are headed to Berlin, which includes a 6 hour train ride to the city.

MFA in Germany, or how I learned to love type and master the cat nap

Today’s lesson, brought to you from the MFA program at Texas State, is the power nap. When your days are filled with over 20,000 steps, it can be very tiring. Add to this waking up to meet for breakfast at 7:00, and going to bed close to midnight, it makes the days very long. Not to mention being in another country pushes you to visit as much as possible, making sure you are maximizing the day. So when you catch a high speed train to Bad Homburg, you take advantage of the downtime by writing the blog post, or napping. With the majority doing the latter.

Our first stop of the day is Monotype.

Who exactly is Monotype? Monotype created a namesake machine that became the first fully mechanical typesetter (Gutenberg would be so proud). And it goes beyond that; they have created handfuls of typefaces like Times New Roman and Arial two colloquial fonts with whom even non-designers are familiar.

Henning Krause, Manager and Font Engineer met us in the lobby of the 4 story building. We shuffled into a conference room, with glossy red tables displaying the history of typography. There were punch letters, aluminum castings of Helvetica, and computer ribbons of Adobe tools. Henning pointed out each item as he spun the history of Monotype and ultimately how typography has changed throughout it’s course. We sat around listening to story after story, nodding with excitement and occasionally scribbling down into our little notepads.

 

“The typography industry mirrors the development of history,”  Henning shared as he pointed out the patterns that have shaped the current typography industry.

There used to be a difference between artist and craftsman, as each was seen as completely separate but now they are one in the same. This is an unbelievable fact as Monotype released over 100,000 glyphs (think individual characters) for one project alone. They average 2,000 to 3,000 products a year and they only have a staff of 500.

The time had come where we said our goodbyes, but not before having the opportunity to ask questions. Henning lit up with enthusiasm with every word he carefully crafted which contained his answer. He gave us insight into the big things Monotype is working on with Variable typography and even his favorite glyph (an asterisk *) because there is always something more and the world has a few assholes.


Our second stop was the Klingspor Museum where we saw some Type Art consisting of lithography posters and books. Lithography plates were created on limestone and could allow the lithographer to use handwriting or painting to create an impression instead of a traditional method like chiseling on a woodblock.

We saw works ranging from 1910 to current including artist like Matisse, Picasso and a German artist, Hölderlin. It was a fun and vibrant exhibit. But all the good stuff was kept upstairs in The ArchiveHelga Horschig — who had a wealth of knowledge and was kind and accommodating to our group of six — escorted us to a table surrounded by history. Books rested in small piles, the titles on the spines calling out to us — as if they were begging to be picked up and admired. Poster and flyers plastered any open counter top that the room may have contained. Helga shuffled over to our table holding an unwavering amount of boxes, the contents unknown to us at the time. With a pair of gloves, she gingerly opened each of the boxes that were delivered so carefully. Much like uncovering buried  treasure, box after box the contents were more valuable.

As each piece was placed on the table surrounded by eager learners, a silence fell over the group. Electricity in the air as every detail came into focus, and then the moment happens. An almost palpable gasp, for each and every item our wonderful librarian placed in front of our eyes.


There were original type drawings and specimen books, calligraphy books in which handwriting was indistinguishable from printed material. It was a showcase of the passion, love and art of typography. Helga could tell she was surrounded by those with an nerdy interest in the subject and we were quickly taken to another portion of this historical depository. Here flat files were brimming with hand stitched type tapestries.

Take a sheet of copy paper and write a sentence and try your best to keep a straight line, and don’t forget to keep all the letters consistent. Now take a 152 cm x 91 cm rug and stitch a sentence. These were immaculate.

After being inspired by an artist Paul Stein who kept art journals for over 30 years, Helga took us back to the table for a few more awe inspired gasps before we had to say Auf Wiedersehen.


At some point, Kelsey even einen kloß im hals haben (started to tear up), so obviously at this point Germany has truly been an inspiring and life changing experience.

We are headed back to home base for the day. Tomorrow we are off to Stuttgart.

Planes, Trains, and Illuminated Manuscripts

Willkommen to Wednesday in beautiful Germany. The day started with the ladies picking me up from the airport and we quickly made our way to the subway. It didn’t take long to discover that today’s lesson was waiting for the train.

After we finally caught the train, having been delayed twice, we arrived in Mainz. We quickly stored my luggage and grabbed a cafe late, and set on foot towards the Gutenberg Museum. Thus far, my journey in Germany has been views from the airport and trains from said airport. Exiting the automatic doors to the fresh air of Mainz was exhilarating. The whole group, literally the first time we were all together, had a jump in their step. We weaved our way through the crowds and cobbled streets following Claudia like little ducks in a row.


We quickly, well after asking for directions, arrived in the town square —a pedestrian friendly area that showcased cute little buildings with a traditional southern Germany charm.

It all of a sudden became clear the history this city held as we stood surrounded by buildings thousands of years old, each wall with a story to tell.

We shortly arrived at the Gutenberg Museum, an icon Mainz claims proudly, as they should. For those unfamiliar with Gutenberg, here’s a quick history. When monks made bibles, they used to hand write every single page, in every single book. Imagine having that job. You couldn’t mass produce the good word as the amount of time to do so would be extensive. Gutenberg invinted a machine that would allow him to reproduce hundreds of pages in a very quick amount of time. The printing press. Without Gutenberg, who knows how long it would take to reproduce and distribute the next edition of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice.

This namesake museum holds the largest collection of Gutenberg bibles, and they keep them in pristine condition. Unfortunately, the wouldn’t allow photography on anything but the demonstration.

We entered a dimly lit vault, sans money. Instead, display cases filled the room with Gutenberg’s bibles. At first, examples of hand-written books were shown. Now, I want you to picture writing a whole bible. Now toss that mental image out. These pages were immaculate! You could hardly tell that they were hand done. The books that followed showed the same care and beauty of the hand-drawn type–but were created using movable type, ink and the large press itself.

After the extensive “inspection” of every display, we made our way back to the train to make the trip to Heidelberg (the home base for the next few days) so we had to head up to a beautiful German castle—set a top the largest hill in what seemed like the world.

What followed was more walking— if walking around Texas State didn’t make you have great calves this trip sure will— and finally dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow we journey to Bad Homburg.

Houston, We Have Lift Off

I’m posting this from the future. And from 30,000 feet in the air. Technology is a modern marvel. By the time that this post reaches you I will be multiple time zones away, as I take the 8,420 km trip to Frankfurt. PS. Since I am in Europe now, I have to fully embrace the metric system. This 9 hr and 45 minute trip is something that I’ve been waiting for—let’s just say my whole design life.

As I sit in seat 86 G, yes that is correct. 86G! The plane is exactly what you would imagine fights against the laws of nature to fly internationally. I entered the double-deck Airbus—that holds roughly over 500 passengers —as I do any other plane. By ducking my head and slowly shuffling my way to the seats as other passengers fight for overhead bins to place the carry on luggage that becomes borderline carry on.

Even before the attendants began calling passengers and masses of people stood in lines to enter the fuselage, I couldn’t stop going over the itinerary of this MFA trip.

Gutenberg Museum. Monotype. Andreas Ubele. Bauhaus. Typo Berlin.

That is only to name a few. It was if I was reciting Arya Stark’s list, except less Games of Thrones, and more designer ecstaticism.
The anticipation to visit the places and people that you read about in design books is unimaginable. And I am still having to wait. Other students have continuously expressed how life-changing this experience can be—and I hope to capture the slightest bit of awe and inspiration in my posts for those who aren’t able to make it.
The ladies have had their first day in Europe together and I can’t wait to hear their stories.
Make sure to come back tomorrow, as there will be tons of photos and information about the Gutenberg Museum and the first full day of the MFA group being together.
Double deck bus flying to Frankfurt

Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand

The time is finally here! The MFA group is headed to Germany for the International Perspectives on Typography class. It has literally been months in the making. It’s actually hard to believe that the bags are finally packed, tickets printed and the journey is about to begin.
This year, our fab group of five consists of:

Andrea St. Clair

Kelsey Johnson

Yamna Jakhar

Yocelyn Riojas

And the scribe of our journey, David Scaliatine.

Of course, our fearless leader + travel agent + professor extraordinaire Claudia is leading the pack.

So, with our ragtag team we’ve created the perfect itinerary to travel around Germany. It all starts with me sitting here in the Universal Toyota service center waiting for an oil change.

That’s right. I am still stuck in the states. My first international flight leaves Tuesday at 3pm, in which I will do some timey-wimey stuff and arrive on Wednesday morning. Traveling across time zones is really bizarre.

Out of my cohorts, I am one of the few that has not traveled out of the country (Mexico not included). And even though I have double checked what to expect, the weight of my luggage and my final packing list — it is all very nerve wracking. But it is ok, the ladies are taking this opportunity to do something a little better than waiting for their oil change.

They’ve already left for Germany! I hope they are enjoying the extra time in Deutschland, scoping out the town and discovering all the cool places to visit. 

Das ist aufregend!

Well, they are calling my name. Next time I write, I hope to be sitting on a plane to Frankfurt – with the Gutenberg museum waiting for us.

Vote for MFA Thi Nguyen’s Rice Business Plan Team!

The cross disciplinary Texas State University team consisting of MFA Communication Design student Thi Nguyen, students from MSEC Department, and the MBA Program are invited to compete at the Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston April 6 – 8, 2017. Thi’s team is one of 42 competing for $1.5 million in start-up funding for their TX2O company.

Friends, family, students, faculty, and alumni can vote for their favorite team to win the $5,000 People’s Choice Award, sponsored by SoFi. CLICK HERE.

Share the People’s Choice voting page on social networks, emails, websites, etc., use this link  https://poll.fbapp.io/2017rbpc.

·         To vote for your favorite team, click on icon at top of this email, when poll appears click on the button to the left of your team name, and hit submit.

·         The $5,000 SoFi People’s Choice winner will be announced at the awards banquet on Saturday, April 8 in Houston.

·         Deadline for voting is noon CST, Saturday, April 8, 2017

Look for us and like us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter #TX2O info tech.

Please share and forward the message and support TX2O.

Thanks in advance for your support!!!

: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : :


Claudia Roeschmann
Associate Professor + Graduate Advisor + Coordinator
Communication Design :: School of Art + Design
Texas State University

 

MFA Com Des Thesis Forum 2017

Web

What is MFA Thesis Forum?
A half-dozen MFA students each pitching his or her future thesis topic,
followed by us all enjoying refreshments and conversation.

Please come out to hear from your fellow MFA students as they embark on their thesis research.

By attending this event you get to support you colleagues as well as gain valuable insights into the thesis process.

Wednesday, April 26 6:00 – 7:00 PM in J.C. Mitte Conference Room 3107H

Red Rover Red Rover Let CS Come Over – Hackathon 2017!!

Hackathon 2017 Poster

Teams of 3 Computer Science and 3 Communication Design students (undergraduate and graduate) will spend 2 days designing and prototyping a smart city application.  Industry professionals will stop by throughout the workshop (excellent networking opportunity!) and will judge the final student work on Saturday 4-6pm.

If you are interested, email Grayson Lawrence at gl16@txstate.edu to snag a spot.

 

Additional Concept Award 2017 Scholarship Recipients

mfa_concept_2017

The College of Fine Arts & Communication Dean John Fleming has graciously given the MFA Communication Design program additional monies to award two runner ups for their Concept Award proposals.  MFA students Yamna Jakhar and Asha Malate are awarded $500 each for their faculty nominated research papers with Matthew Himes winning the top $1000 scholarship. Thank you Dean Fleming for your continued support of our students.

We also thank our Concept Award juror, Doreen Lorenzo, who is a thought leader on design and innovation and previously served as president of the companies Frog Design Inc. and Quirky. Doreen carefully read each nominated students’ research proposal and picked the top papers.