Thursday, 15 November 2012

Dont try to be Original, Just try to be Good

Exhibition shot including portraits of Rand by Steven Heller

Easily one of the highlights of this year's Design Week (which ran from 5 - 11 November) has been Don't try to be Original, Just try to be Good, an exhibition exploring work by iconic American graphic designer Paul Rand. Curated by the guys from Curate and Design (who you may remember from a small exhibition of work by Dieter Rams in 2011) and funded through Fund It, the show opened in Ebow Gallery in Dublin 2 on 2 November and runs until Friday 16 November. The exhibition features a small number of specially-licensed reproductions along with a pretty decent number of original books and magazine advertisements designed by Rand, giving someone like me - with only a basic knowledge of graphic design history - a really nice introduction to and overview of Paul Rand's work.

Prejudices: A Selection book cover design by Rand

Born in Brooklyn in 1914, Paul Rand was a design consultant to many major companies, an art director, a writer and a teacher. Rand's work is bold and bright, influenced greatly by modernist theory, creating identities for IBM, UPS, Ford and many others by paring back to essential elements - proof of their success being in the continued use of many of them. Meanwhile, much of his advertising and book designs are infused with European avant-garde art styles, employing cut paper and collage to create fun and lively imagery. His influence goes beyond creating a huge body of strong work: his writings and teachings (he taught at Yale University) have teased out and developed modern graphic design theory.

Coronet Brandy magazine advertisement by Rand

Curate and Design have assembled a really great selection of Rand's work, including many original/first edition pieces from private collections across the UK and US. Also featured in the exhibition is a short video made by NY-based Imaginary Forces. Made for the occasion of Rand's induction into the One Club Art Directors Hall of Fame, the video is a wonderful animation exploring some of Rand's thoughts on graphic design. Paired with the pieces on display, it feels like a valuable lesson in good design.

Exhibition shot featuring Rand's iconic IBM logo. Images 2 & 3 courtesy of Curate and Design.

Don't try to be Original, Just try to be Good is open today (Thursday) from 12noon until 8pm and finally tomorrow (Friday) from 12noon until 5pm in Ebow Gallery, Castle Street, Dublin 2, so if you haven't caught it yet, there's still time! And even if you have visited already, perhaps one last look would do your design sensibilities good...