POSTCARDS FROM GERMANY
“How do you create your ideas?” This is the number one question I am asked as a graphic designer – and while I have a very clear process that I follow, one of the most important ways I keep my ideas fresh is to stay creatively charged. For me, spending a month in Germany was a chance to do just that.
As a child, I called an East German concrete box home. And it was from this Neubaublock apartment that my love of design was born. I kept every piece of paper that came into my life – from ticket stubs to brochures and receipts. When I had to clear all this out of my parents’ house a few years ago, I couldn’t believe just how many boxes of stuff I collected as a child!
In a country that celebrated Bauhaus design and Brutalist architecture, my creative inner-world was far from minimalist. Now whenever I return back to Germany, I am always fascinated to see how the design landscape has changed. The country sits at the meeting point of Eastern and Western Europe, and that means there are so many different influences to take in with every visit.
So with a spare suitcase for the art and design books I always buy abroad, I headed to Germany in July for a European summer – and this is the inspiration I found. I hope it inspires you too!
Just a small selection of the print materials I brought home in that empty suitcase. In the first week alone I picked up six books!
Graphic Design | Litfassäulen
In Germany, Litfaßsäulen are advertising columns. They’re common across the country, but particularly so in Berlin where they originated in 1855. I love seeing the artwork on these columns – so much so it was all coming live to you on my Instagram story.
If you’re looking to Europe for design inspiration, I found lots of pink, reds and greens during this trip. And it wouldn’t be Germany without some minimalism thrown into the mix!
A graphic design tutorial on the streets of Frankfurt.
Art | Ursula Schulz-Dornburg
Photographer Ursula Schulz-Dornburg highlights the transient nature of place. She takes photos of places such as border crossings and sites that were once cultural epicentres. Her exhibition The Land In-Between was the most interesting one I saw, because her black and white photography reminds us of the marks we leave behind as society progresses.
Ursula was born in 1939 when Europe was in the grip of war, so she is driven to preserve the world through her work. If you have a couple of minutes, her interview with Tate is an interesting look at her process and view of the world.
I saw this exhibition at Städel Museum in Frankfurt – definitely one to visit if you are ever in Frankfurt. And you know how I found out about it? From a Litfaßsäulen poster!
Ursula Schulz-Dornburg at Städel Museum – I loved the exhibition so much I purchased the book!
Architecture | Old vs New
I make no secret about my obsession with concrete. Having grown up in East Germany, it is a material that was the backdrop of my childhood, and one that was used both practically and creatively in my neighbourhood.
In this trip, I was so inspired by the way that old and new architecture coexist – either in the same streetscapes or, a single building. When I look at any kind of design, I think in grids (like the layout of a magazine), so concrete makes a lot of sense to me. And to see that grid come to life and evolve in so many different ways has continued to inspire me now that I’m back behind the computer creating new work for clients.
These buildings are like grids to me – and inside each square there’s a different story playing out.
Given that I work with a lot of creative practitioners who are always pushing the boundaries of their own practice, I find these trips so important to continue evolving my design perspective. I look at every day as a chance for creative exploration, and that’s why I consciously choose to blur the lines between work, play and holidays.
If you’ve downloaded my Brand Discovery Journal, you will start to see how your brand is the sum of many different elements, including your own story, the things that inspire you and who your clients are. I like to think of my design practice in the exact same way: with every project and every trip abroad, I am layering up different experiences to draw on.
To see more from the trip, you can scroll through my highlights over on Instagram.
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