Seminar III - Goo Ryong Kang
Changes in Graphic and Exhibition Design
Ye Ji Hong (DCW 2021)
At the third seminar of the 2021 DOOSAN Curator Workshop, we took a look at the changes and latest trends in exhibition identity design, graphic design, and exhibition space design with graphic designer Goo Ryong Kang.
1. Exhibition Identity Design
In the 1970s and 80s, exhibition identity design mostly focused on emphasizing the authority of the museum or gallery. Designs from this period can be characterized by their use of bilateral symmetry and rigid structure, and their general disallowance of variation and application. By the 2000s, the virtue of exhibition identity design has shifted to emphasize openness and diversity, and systems and consistency became important elements in establishing the identity and design of a museum. In particular, designs that considered applicability in terms of logo use started to emerge. Also, for smooth communication between commissioning institutions and designers, logic-based designs have become preferred and the overall objective has shifted from symbolism to extendibility/usability and playfulness. The cases of exhibition identity design that we examined at the seminar are as follows:
1) Art Sonje Center (Korea): The letters taken from the English name of the institution—“A,” “SJ,” and “C”—were arranged with the consistent ratio of 1:1:2 and applied to a variety of manners including on posters and leaflets.
2) The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (US): When establishing the museum branding identity, the designers did not just seek context within the museum, but did research by including the museum’s surrounding context. In this case, “unit-based” design was developed by adopting a grid system in which the design proceeded to break the units down and apply variations to the spatial design as well as the museum font.
3) MIT Media LAB (US): This case shows an example of data-driven design based on algorithms. It values the process, logic, and validity from which a design output emerges. Design processes based on systems rather than feeling or tone present a standard with which consistency can be maintained even with different project leaders.
4) Centraal Museum (Netherlands): This is a case in which all content in the museum featured a playful and witty design that visualized the relationship between the center and the periphery by focusing on the fact that the museum is located at the center of the area as a key design motif.
2. Exhibition Graphic Design
Exhibition graphic design has been shifted to focusing on function and storytelling from underscoring conventional solemnity and universality. Graphic design can include direct design, sensuous design, symbolic design, and metaphorical design, in which designers’ approaches may vary depending on client and context. Unlike past trends in which sensuous design based on designers’ “senses” or “feeling” was dominant, today, designers with a knack for “storytelling,” in which they communicate clients’ values through imaginative narratives, flourish. One such case is the design of Swiss currency. National values cherished by Switzerland—including time, creativity, experience, and tradition—were assigned to different notes, and each told a story by being matched with fitting images. In the case of metaphorical design, in particular, it shows the role of design can connote even deeper meanings when hidden codes or motifs are included in a graphic; such an approach requires multifaceted, multidirectional research.
3. Exhibition Space Design
As for exhibition space design, trends are gradually changing to prefer open structures over closed ones. Some good examples include the keystone arches at Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and Change of State, which utilized a screen installed on the outer wall of the New Museum, New York City, for the museum’s IDEAS CITY Festival. Also, as exhibitions and art sales expand to virtual spaces online, some experimental designs are emerging accordingly.
To realize designs that suit exhibitions’ concepts by closely collaborating with designers, it is best to keep these trends above in mind. Through the seminar, we were able to understand that efforts to communicate with designers based on concrete logic and solid grounds rather than vague feeling were necessary in creating designs for more convincing delivery of exhibition context.