Welcome in The Palace of Typographic Masonry. We are now in the Hallway of Reflections where you can find the 14 mirrors so far, made by 55 Graphic Design students of the Willem de Kooning Academy. They were guided by their theory lecturer Dirk Vis, who will explain a bit more about the project after this short introduction. But first I would like to share with you the structure of The Palace of Typographic Masonry.
This Palace consists of 9 departments. Sign, Symbol and Ornament on the ground floor. These are the basis elements, the working material of the graphic designer. If you think back at the days of movable type this was the material you would find in the drawers of the lettercases and the engravings that were incorporated in the composition.
On the first floor you will find the departments of Construction, Poetics and Play. These are the departments that deal with the possibilities and forms of how these different elements come together and produce certain effects.
On the second floor you will find Order, Craft and Practice. These departments tell you about the conditions, the context in which the designs are made.
As founder of the Palace it’s my job to direct all initiatives to the right department, to make room for the new hall, gallery, cabinet or kitchen that contributes to the whole of this building, that consists of more than 25 spaces so far. I can image you are thinking: in which department are we right now?
The Hallway of Reflections presents case studies of contemporary graphical, artistic languages. In a way the students were looking for a cloud of material surrounding the work of a graphic designer. They created an artistic mind map of sources, techniques and theories. They tried to trace back traditions. Although many contemporary designed would deny it, they consiously or unconsciously borrow elements from anywhere. They use typefaces made by others, continue to work with symbols introduced by others and decorate their work in a borrowed motif. This would place the Hallway of Reflections on the ground floor.
But another aspect is that the choosen contemporary graphic designers are influenced by working methods, technical tricks, fashionable reproduction techniques of others. And also this is not mentioned often, since graphic design is mostly talked about from the perspective of the individual genius, but all designers work with computers, in programmes, print at prinshops or publish on a platform and have to choose papers and colors… all of this contributes to the work and this makes me think The Hallway of Reflections should be located on the first floor.
When I think about it a bit more, and look at what the 55 students of the Willem de Kooning Academy brought together, something else emerges. The Hallway of Reflections also reflect the connections, the web of influences, of past masters and colleaques, movements and eras. It shows the endless conversation you have as a designer with the craft itself. Your work always resonates with that of others, and always contributes to an endlessly connecting structure. Or, you could say, it shows the context of the reflections of reflections. This would locate The Hallway of Reflections on the second floor.
I had to make up my mind. And I decided to place the Hallway of Reflections in the department of the Craft, on the second floor. Like Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’ the Hallway of Reflections traces back the past but also predicts an infinite future of the profession of graphic design. This is a very comforting thought for me as founder of the Palace.