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The 25th Biennial of Graphic Design Brno

The Czech design competition revamps its approach in an anniversary year

by CH Contributor in Design on 12 July 2012

by Adam Štěch

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In its 25th edition, the Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno, Czech Republic, takes a radical turn in its new organizational team, exhibition concept, and a more curated approach to the selection of artworks and accompanying exhibitions.

The Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno is one of the oldest events of its kind in the world. Biennials of art, sculpture, architecture or product design aren't new, but few know that this particular exhibition has hosted some of the best international graphic designers for more than 50 years. Traditionally organized by the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the biennal is comprised of its main competition exhibition and accompanying shows, presenting old masters as well as new experimental work from burgeoning talents.

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This year, the gallery asked Adam Macháček, Radim Pešk, and Tomáš Celizna, acclaimed Czech graphic designers living in the US and the Netherlands, to be part of the organizational and curatorial committees. All three designers work mainly in experimental graphic design and typography—as well as education—and have proposed a new, "more curated" concept for the exhibition. In the past, material selected from hundreds of international designers dictated the content of the main competition.

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For the 25th anniversary the curators asked designers to participate in the biennial for a smaller, more compact collection of work, with the main competition exhibit focusing primarily on younger and non-commercial trends in contemporary graphic design. The main prize was awarded to the Mevis & Van Deursen studio for its visual style in the Stedelijk Temporary Museum in Amsterdam. Other prizes were awarded to Manuel Raeder, Linked by Air and the Czech graphic design master Zdeněk Ziegler, who received the prize for Outstanding Contribution to Graphic Design. The international jury included Andrew Blauvelt, Zak Kyes, Robert V. Novák and Sulki & Min Choi.

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The main exhibit contains work by Swiss, Dutch, American, Czech and Japanese designers, while the accompanying shows include "Two or Three Things I know about Provo " by Dutch designers Experimental Jetset, "Work from California" showcasing contemporary graphic design from the Sunshine state, "Květa Pacovská - Ad Infinitum" celebrating the work of the legendary illustrator, and Khhhhhhh by the Slavs and Tatars studio.

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Accompanying the main exhibit is an installation created in collaboration with designers Jerry Koza and Anička Kozová of Atelier SAD. They used raw wooden materials originally designed for producing chairs in the Ton factory where the wood had to be dried for long periods of time to attain the perfect malleability to craft a chair. Thus, the installation pieces are currently drying in the gallery in geometric frames to support posters, books and other exhibits. After the exhibition, the pieces will return to fulfill their purpose in the production of chairs at the factory once again.

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The visual style of the exhibition is the work of graphic designers Adéla Svobodová, Tereza Hejmová and Pauline Kerleroux. The pictures for the catalogue were shot by artist and photographer Jiří Thýn.

The 25th Biennial of Graphic Design Brno will be open until 28 October 2012 at the Moravian Gallery, Brno, Czech Republic.

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