Verticalbones header image

Authenticity never goes out of style …

27 May 2009 · No Comments

… but a forgotten blog loses its relevance quickly. I could easily blame Twitter, or my lack of broadband (no more) for a lapse in posts. Blogging takes time and thought, and I had a chance to do some thinking today in Dublin with Reza Abedini and Paul Hughes during their Design for Cultural Diversity workshop at NCAD today.

Paul began by giving an overview of some research that was done in the Netherlands on how cultural diversity was represented in Dutch design. I’m sure similar hackneyed patterns exist throughout the world. Rainbow children holding hands in a circle anyone? The challenge is to move from the straightforward to a more refined, well-considered, researched and executed vision of diversity.

What is a common denominator beyond our nationality that connects us?

Reza followed Paul with an exploration of Persian culture and how that has influenced his work. I was initially struck that his schooling included Persian painting, calligraphy and even archaeology. How enlightened is that? His cultural explorations fell into several themes like Magic & Mysticism. Persian calligraphy, like zen calligraphy, is performed in a meditative state, where largely process is more important than outcome. War cloaks, covered in written prayers and magic, were believed to protect warriors in battle. While exploring Framing, Composition and Distance, Abedini remarked that “composition” is a modern term. Works from 500 years ago were done by artists “thinking about meaning before composition.”

I was left (again) with the sense that Irish graphic design has not fully explored or leveraged the visual history and cues of Ireland. I’m not suggesting one must reference the rich, cultural heritage of Ireland in all their work. To be sure, Abedini’s work is universal because it simply is great design in any culture. I didn’t need to read farsi to appreciate it. However, the layers of authentic reference add a complexity and depth beyond good composition, typography and colour. The local becomes universal simultaneously.

Tags: design