As an alumnus of the HfG Offenbach, I was asked to design a poster for an event commemorating Max Bill. This invitation was an opportunity for me to reexamine Bill’s body of work, in particular to focus on a composition that I own called 'white centre.”
Perhaps the strongest element of the poster is the pattern of numbers. I deducted the arrangement of numeric code from the color field composition of ‘white center’. I was attracted to this representation both intellectually and aesthetically - Intellectually since it offers an alternative understanding or notation of Bill’s composition, and aesthetically due to its purely typographic approach. It was very important for me to use numbers and not letters to represent the colors. While both numbers and letters are readable, letters do not tempt to be interpreted in the realm of language. Also the numbers do not interfere with the overlapping program text.
The event program is set in lowercase akzidenz grotesk to reflect the typographic mindset of the HfG Ulm era. To attract the viewer on an emotional level, I also included two pictures that Bill took in his early twenties. Both pictures are cropped in the manner of the 'white center' composition. One is a self-portrait in which Bill is wearing nothing but underpants and a torn shirt. The other shows his girlfriend, topless. Both are unexpected and, in their way, charming.
After Dr. Jakob Bill, the Director of the Bill Foundation, saw the poster he wrote me a letter about the design. The poster was officially included in the Max Bill Archive in Adligenswil, Switzerland. He liked the code of numbers very much, but was critical of the red "x bill" on the lower left.
To me this "x bill' represents two important aspects of the typographic composition. First, this element makes explicit that this is neither a historic nor a retro poster – which one could easily think since the chosen typeface, composition, content and color all suggest that. By leaving the canvas on the upper right, cutting the content and reintroducing the text in a playful way from the lower left in a manner counter to the Hfg Ulm style, I state that the character of this event is about history but in a critically contemporary and not a nostalgic context. Secondly by creating such a typographic composition, I express that it’s worth reconsidering the -isms produced during this period and later in interpretation of Hfg Ulm historic legacy. Lets not forget that the full potential of the Hfg Ulm -isms unfolded on the graphical and social surrounding they confronted in their time. Today these -isms remain empty nostalgic interest, if not rethought. And that is what this poster is to me: an attempt to consider and even to re-think the HfG-Ulm style.
The Poster was printed in A0 (