A feast of design in Breda

Five days of storytelling with workshops, lectures, performances, exhibitions, and master classes with 125 international designers – the Graphic Design Festival Breda really is one of a kind, as it reaches a much wider audience by displaying most of the work outside in the public space. Alex Halfpenny, Designer at our office in Amsterdam, visited the festival and shared his experience here:

With installations, posters and outdoor exhibitions, intervention in the public space was the theme of this year’s Graphic Design Festival in Breda. Taking work out of galleries and in to real public spaces, the 5-day biannual Expo gave this designer that much needed out-of-the-office inspiration.

Across the entire festival, designers were encouraged to consider their craft in a multidimensional way, from the interaction of 2D designs in the real 3D world, adding depth through digital applications such as the omnipresent Augmented Reality, to the effect of time and social and political issues. All these things can alter the perceptions of design. One exhibition to note was ‘Small Stories, Bigger Picture’ which is currently on display at Breda’s Museum Of The Image, and explores how much today’s society uses and interacts with different forms of imagery. With endless access to social media and image-sharing, the need for clarity in communication and a way of maintaining order is questioned through infographics, animation, photography and sculpture. Through their work, designers for the exhibition become journalists, poets, scientists and psychologists, in the way that all designers must, in order for our use of imagery to make sense in the endless visual noise that surrounds us.

An Installation which converts images uploaded to Flickr into animated origami birds, in real-time, resulting in an organic endless ballet of digital imagery.

Posters from Design Politie, along with fantastic illustrations from Christoph Niemann, work from Grundini and the RSA, this exhibition explored the difficulties we encounter everyday in our job as designers, which is being able to use imagery in a clear and captivating way to communicate our message.

Running in conjunction with the Graphic Design Festival was Breda’s Annual International Photo Festival. Also exhibiting in public spaces, the main exhibition Homo Empathicus uses the photographers’ empathy in direct opposition to the protagonist of the show; homo econimus, who sees the world only in terms of personal monetary gain. In direct reference to the global economic crisis, the works on display explore different cultures around the world, asking the question “Do we still have any influence on the world we live in?”

From the shadow of the Kosovo war in Albania to Mexican drug-related gang violence, brutal, thought provoking imagery was juxtaposed with the vibrant colourful sides to the different cultures in question, in a fantastically stimulating beautiful way.

Breda Photo Festival is running until 21st October, while the Small Stories exhibition can be seen at MOTI until the end of November.