Last week I joined a trip to The Printing Museum. Believe it or not, adults go on field trips too. As the largest growing AIGA chapter, it is apparent Houston is a city bustling with new ideas. The exhibition Design Now: Houston validates the city’s relevance in the design world. The jurors, Matteo Bologna, Ellen Lupton and Claudia De Almeida, are experts of the field.
The exhibition consists of 14 categories ranging from publication to environmental to web/interactive. Among the finalists’ work was a theme of Houston culture, while maintaining a visual solution for a client’s problem.
When entering, the introduction wall immediately sparks an interest by sharing exhibition information through lively graphic treatments. As if I wasn’t already excited to see the work on display. A map of Houston is constructed of pegboard, string and tape, which speaks to the idea of a progressive cultural identity.
In the first space, projects are displayed at eye height along the walls. In the center, hanging lamps cast clarity on the tables that hold the designs for a tactile experience. The work consists of excellent branding solutions to be investigated, websites to be navigated, and print materials to be deciphered. I enjoyed the ability to flip through booklets and trace various textures because it created an interactive experience.
There is no question of quality of the work displayed. The Pax Americana restaurant branding quickly drew me in by its use of commonly found materials. Booklets fashioned like passports and geographical mapping serve as motifs of classic western adventure. Innovative materials were also used for the menu. What stood out to me were thick rubber bands reinforcing the menu on a block of wood.
In the neighboring space, logo and identity systems boast of cohesive excellence applied to various materials. The best explanation of this is Goode Co.’s rebranding, the existing logos were unified with a fluid mark paired with etching style illustrations. Having grown up seeing the previous logo marks applied, I was excited to see such a successful and seamless solution. The identity system is a refreshing take on the various food chains and honors the roots of the client.
While separated by glass, display cases are occupied by publications and packaging. The editorial work for Sugar & Rice was thought provoking. Four copies of the independent publication are suspended as open and destructed versions lay below. I was incredibly intrigued by this display as the vivid design was juxtaposed – making the statement that the publication’s identity could not easily be tampered.
This exhibition of design work confirms the relevance of the city’s design scene. There is an underlying mission to interact with Houston’s culture. It was a pleasure to observe and reflect on the winning and finalist submissions on display at The Printing Museum. One thing is certain, Houston has only gotten a glimpse of the potential for design. I can only look forward to what the creative minds in this city come up with next.