Marian Bantjes is a well-known Canadian graphic designer who is known for her complex, highly patterned and ornately ornamented graphic style. Graphic designer & design educator, Denise Gonzalez Crisp, coined the term: “decorational”, which compliments Bantjes’ graphic style. While decoration and rationality aren’t normally paired with one another, within this concept of the “decorational” – both concepts seem to be symbiotically intertwined, with each part informing the other. Or as Crisp says, “function is completed by ornament.”
Twemlow also notes that “The intricacy necessary to make patterns or to construct ornament suggests that a real attention is being paid to the craft of making and to detail.” This statement perfectly describes the complex design aesthetic of Bantjes.
There is an expressiveness, excessiveness, and freedom that is allowed within the realm of ornament, yielding unique and beautiful outcomes.
A few weeks ago in my history of graphic design class, my teacher was sharing the japanese concept of “wabi-sabi”. Wabi-sabi as a concept used in design, seems to be an opposite aesthetic from modernism. While modernism tended towards clean, symmetrical, fluid and smooth design, wabi-sabi finds beauty in imperfection, irregularity, asymmetry, and roughness.
Which then reminded me of Adolf Loos’ rant against ornament being a waste of labor, resources, time and money. Loos is someone who would prefer to buy objects devoid of detailing and decoration and would also prefer to pay more money for something lacking ornamentation.
Loos says “The evolution of culture is the is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects.”
I stumbled upon fashion designer Jeremy’s Scott’s sneaker collaborations with Adidas while browsing the web. His designs are the opposite of Loos’ argument. Devoted sneakerhead fans currently pay specifcally MORE for an ornament of a stuffed animal attached to their sneakers, rather than less, for an unadorned shoe, plain Adidas shoe. “Form follows function” is often quoted as a mantra for good design, but there is really no “function” that enables a sneaker to improve its performance by “sticking a bear on it”. But the whole point of this particular shoe, is the ornament.Continue reading →