Trailer: Experimental Jetset on scavenging the ruins of Modernism

The Dutch graphic designers talk about the influences that have shaped their impressive body of work.

They might describe their work as “scavenging the ruins of Modernism” but Experimental Jetset’s graphic design output is neither dated nor derivative. It is simply conscious of its origins and place in design history. The Dutch studio’s members – Danny van den Dungen, Erwin Brinkers and Marieke Stolk – see their work as an archive of influences harvested mainly from the era of Modernism.

In this presentation from Design Indaba Conference 2014, they trace their career as an “alphabet” of influences, from A to Z, showing inspirational ideas, people or movements alongside examples of their own produced work.

An iconic poster by Dutch cartoon artist Bernard Willem Holtrop with a reversed lower case “A” inspired the trio for its “sharp and clear design but contrarian element,” says Stolk.

The group cites multiple other creative thinkers and revolutionaries who have influenced their work.

A conceptual piece by the American artist Sol Lewitt that consisted of a set of step-by-step instructions for creating his artwork gave them the idea for how to communicate their graphic identity for the Whitney Museum, which uses endlessly varying angles of the letter “W” to fit different contexts.

Their design of the Whitney’s new identity was also informed by the No Wave post-punk sub-culture that sprung up in New York City in the late 1970s and early 80s. “Since it is one of the prisms through which we view New York City, it was only logical that some of the language of No Wave would make its way into the Whitney project,” says van den Dungen.

If there is one consistent theme in Experimental Jetset’s work it is a personal relationship to Modernism. But they offer this caveat: “We have to admit that we have a very broad definition of Modernism. In fact, we usually speak of Modernisms,” says Stolk.

This year for the first time, the Design Indaba Conference talks make their premiere on our app, conveniently packaged in one place and available for free download. To watch Experimental Jetset’s full conference talk download the app here or keep watching for updates.

Watch the Talk with Experimental Jetset