I recently took a trip to Amsterdam, for a break from studying and work, after working solidly all summer, straight after finishing my second year of Uni in May - I was pretty tired! I have been to Amsterdam before, so I knew it would be a great place to go for a change of scenery from Aberdeen.
Whilst there, going on a tip from a fellow designer through Twitter, I visited the Stedelijk Museum, and found it to be the best museum I have visited. Situated in the famous Museumplein, it was not hard to find, however I think it could easily be overshadowed to the regular tourist by the very famous Van Gogh museum, so I am glad we had the tip off. Even the building is beautiful, the perfect mix of the original building and modern extension.
On past experiences of museums, I was expecting many floors of interesting work, with me slowly losing interest as I got more tired and overwhelmed with information. I discovered I was very wrong! It is really diverse and has a good mix of styles too keep you interested. The first part of the museum we visited was the design floor. It is full of print design, of posters, screenprints, lino prints, which obviously interested me, however it was also mixed in with product design, jewellery, and even examples of interior design. Each small room led into another, each with a few examples of different design disciplines. I didn't realise how interesting crockery design could be until I saw some of the examples displayed!
It was full of inspiration, I noticed so many things I hadn't thought to try with my own work and began noting down names of anyone's work I liked. There were some fantastic examples of layout design, particularly from Wim Crouwel, which is something I am looking at in my current projects at uni, so it was perfect for this. I loved the type he used and the simple design. After seeing some great examples, I really want to try pushing my designs, and thinking about how I can print them or present them in a new way.
The museum is currently hosting an exhibition called “On The Move', which is a collection of work from designers in the Netherlands, conveying stories through photography and graphic design. The work here was very diverse, with examples of small photography books, large A3 booklets, film footage, projections of photographs onto floors, all of them a collaboration between photographers, graphic designers, journalists and more. The exhibition had me thinking about ways in which I can present my work, rather than just handing it in as sheets of print. Some of the booklets were beautifully designed, and read like an actual book, bound with hard back covers. Others were simply photocopied small magazines. I was also captured by the stories that some of the work told. There was a lot of documentary style photography presented in books, telling stories of regular people, like an insight into a simple day in their lives. In contrast others told harrowing stories of hardship, but were inspiring in their handling of and presentation of the subject. One of our projects at University is based on documentary photography, which I did not choose, however maybe I could take that idea and create a brief around documentary design for the second semester. I love the idea of designing to tell a story.
The final exhibition we visited was 'Bad Thoughts', which is a collection of works assembled by Martijn and Jeanette Saunders. I was a little unsure of whether I wanted to visit this exhibition, because what I had seen already that day had given me so many ideas and inspired me, I was worried the subject matter may be too dark for me and I might lose the passion I had found for the place. However, it was quite different to what I had imagined, trying to convey feelings of selfishness and guilty pleasure that we all feel but in quite a lighthearted, creative way, rather than shocking or dark. It was much more bold, and large in scale in comparison to the previous exhibition. The collection is very diverse again, with photography, collage art, text and graphics. A work I found particularly interesting was by Peter Hutchinson. I loved the layout of the artwork, the photograph and the positioning of the text drew me to it straight away.
All of the areas we saw were inspiring in their own way, and gives a broad and interesting insight into the design world.I would recommend a visit here to anyone, designer or not, and make sure you visit the shop afterwards - it is a coffee-table -book heaven!