Architype Dialogue presents
What was the most difficult issue about weaving the environmental graphics into this building or the most unexpected challenge that may have influenced new design thoughts in this project?
Sometimes central communication ideas can develop from unfavourable and even unintended circumstances.
The main problem with Munich Technology Centre, for example, was the system of coding, that was pre-determined and which could not be changed. It does not assist wayfinding, as the visitor enters the building through module »E«, i.e. it gives him no idea about his own position in the building.
What we tried to do is turn this curse into a blessing by using the idea of a stone thrown into a pond: waves spread out concentrically from a certain point and always refer back to their origin. By defining the foyer as the starting point of coloured line-waves, this allowed us to create a three-dimensional graphic and unique colour coding which became the »image« of the building in addition to constituting the signage system. Without the underlying initial problem, this solution would never have occurred to us.
Did this project expand or evolve your role as a graphic designer in any way? In general, do you feel that the role of the graphics designer, and in turn environmental graphics themselves, is changing on current projects?
Of course, there are some projects where you don’t know to begin with what role you will play as a graphic designer. Often, you cannot foresee whether you will be able to create a visual identity that will have an effect above and beyond the task of wayfinding. We usually do accomplish this, but sometimes it’s just inappropriate as the task doesn’t call for it.
When we began working with signage years ago, our main concern was to integrate our solutions into the existing architectural concepts. Increasingly often, however, we were faced with tasks in which the customer wanted to have a graphical design, for example for posters and catalogues, in a three-dimensional context, too. So at some point we reversed the principle and starting developing from the inside out. Now we often get jobs to add to or expand the existing architecture.
How are your designs possible today in a way that it may not have been before and how have trends in technology, wayfinding, and graphics inspired new thought and solutions?
Everyone lives in his time, and indeed I think you should be able to tell by looking at good design what time it is from and in what context and within which possibilities it was made.
As a general rule, however, I think it is unfortunate when technologies are reflected too strongly in design concepts. Often, the ideas themselves are just simple implementations of technical possibilities. To begin with, we try to develop our designs independently of anything like technology. Even if this sometimes means more work in terms of implementation – it often gets all the more interesting when you start pushing the envelope.
In the context of this project, how is your office and design process being influenced by current trends in academic curricula and incoming young designers? In turn, how are current projects and processes guiding the ongoing reformulation and development of academic curricula?
Our projects usually aren’t influenced by curricula or current university trends, at least not consciously. However, a lot of solutions are developed through discussions in the studio. Particularly in the context of architecture projects, it is often a competition of ideas in which our younger colleagues are of course equally involved.
Conversely, however, I am convinced that working independently of format and media is increasingly becoming the generally established practice. In the end, it is often a matter of designing »visual master plans« that are put into practice later on in different applications – be it in print, screen or an architectural context. That’s what I try to get across to my students and to integrate into my curricula.
Architype Review thanks Sascha Lobe for his interview and for contributing to this collection of Architype Dialogue.