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October 10th. Getting humor across to different cultures is tough for most graphic designers. Something that makes an American laugh, may not make any sense to a Japanese audience. These three designers talked about the common ground in humor, that is universal. They have managed throughout their careers to deliver messages that are universally funny.

Shigeo Fukuda gave concrete examples of humor that crosses frontiers. Many antique European and Asian art had the exact themes and forms, which comes to prove his point that humor can be universal and that basic emotions are shared by all of humanity.

Omar Vulpinari shares his Fabrica stories

Omar Vulpinari, head of the Fabrica Visual Communications department (Benetton research center for design) centered his presentation on a single Tarot card, The Fool. The Fool, he says, embodies the essentials of what designers should be. “The fool is the sublime duality of madman and enlightment. The fool explores and risks.”
He went on to show the work of the “fools” at Fabrica. The works of his students reflect all the qualities of a perfect fool. They reflect the DNA of Fabrica,he said, with ingredients like: Humor, disturbance, doubt, and subversiveness.

Omar Vulpinari shares his Fabrica stories

“No matter how much we try to make things come out right, something will be wrong. Nothing is as we plan it,” And so began the lecture of one of the most influential designers of our times. – Neville Brody (UK)

Brody’s work for Issey Miyake

“Some of the best ideas come from mistakes.” Brody said that acting against the rules breaking the rules, breaks thought patterns, making the audience see things in a different light. “Designers are middle-men between the raw information and the public… As designers we can shape the opinions of our audience.”

Neville Brody delivered a powerful speech, in which he criticized our world, and inspired us all to make a change, NOW!

“I live in a world in which I’m forgetting how to be intuitive, instinctive, artistic or natural… Today I calculate more than I create . I’ve forgotten to work with my hands, to make things like clay… We live in a world in which revolution is a GAP advertising campaign…. We’ve created a society of a limited pallette. It’s as if we see the world through 256 colors, we’ve eliminated all the rest. We’ve moved from high-resolution to no-resolution. From Infinite possibilities to 72 dpi… We’ve forgotten that we can break the rules, I mean really break the rules.We just vary what we already have. We live in fear of failure. And if we don’t tear up the plans we’ll never find out.”

I came out of that lecture with a knot in my throat and watery eyes.

Print Ad for Buy Nothing Day, by Barnbrook

Jonathan Barnbrook (UK), has become famous for his controversial and direct criticism of the globalization era that we live in today. Barnbrook has managed to mock some of today’s biggest consumer icons with a combination of wit, creativity and BALLS!

October 11th. The congress was aproaching its end. The closing ceremonies refreshed our minds on what Visualogue was all about. I was left with a feeling of empowerment, ready to go out and make a difference through design.

One of the main halls of the congress dressed in red for the ocassion

This congress was more emotional and human than technical. I learned so much more this way, because charts, commands and measures are memorized, (and easily forgotten) but real human experiences are remmembered, reminesced. It was a Utopia. There were no clients to please, no briefs, no judges, just design, some of the best design.

I learned that designers around the world share similar challenges and obstacles. I finally understood that great design is not a matter of geography, it transcends frontiers. I was reminded of one question we often forget when designing, “Why?” We always ask “What?” and “How?” But why are we doing what we’re doing? What’s the purpose?

So I left the congress with much more questions than I came in with, but less doubts. Yeah, I know it sounds confusing, but the point is that in design there are no definite answers, we have to question ourselves constantly, as well as our sorroundings. And if I had ever doubted if design was for me, and if I was on the right track, that doubt disappeared. It vanished as I saw how much more there is to design than surface beauty and branding, that you can change the way people see the world through design, literally.

I left this congress wanting to do so much more than I have. I fell deeper in love with this career, and found a new love:JAPAN. So I have added two new purposes in my life now: changing the world through design and returning to the land of the rising sun. The first might take a lifetime to accomplish, the second will hopefully be very soon.

Date: 8 -13th October, 2003
Place: Nagoya Congress Center (Main venue)
Address: Atsutanishi-machi 1-1, Atsuta-ku, Nagoya, Japan
Contact: Icograda 2003 Nagoya Secretariat
Tel: +81 52 249 3695

Text: Erika Saca
Photos: Erika Saca, Herbert Zometa and Orlando Alvarez

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