I love design because of shapes and colors. Of course, every work of art uses them, but I am particularly interested in designs that are created with such simplicity and geometry that their most basic pieces show through.
In one of my design courses at university, I was assigned an historically significant graphic designer to study. From a list, the professor chose our subjects for us. Many students scored design giants like Paul Rand and Saul Bass. After all the names I recognized dwindled away, the professor pointed to me and uttered a name that I had never heard: A.M. Cassandre.
Admittedly, I was disappointed, particularly when I realized that hardly anyone had written about him. There were a few articles written by museums, but none were accessible to me. I could only find two or three books that contained his posters and only one that actually had significant writing about him: the eponymous A.M. Cassandre, written by his son, Henri Mouron. It was out of print. And there was no copy I could get my hands on. I frustratingly pulled together tidbits online, a short paragraph here, a bio line there. Fortunately, his work, while scarce, was more readily accessible.
What I found astounded me and changed the way I thought about design. Years later, I’ve acquired Mouron’s book, which contains most of his father’s eclectic body of work. Some works are analyzed studying their regulating lines. Cassandre’s Pivolo (1924) illustrates the geometry and golden section Cassandre regularly employed. What an incredible thing to see how mathematical, yet not sterile, design can be; how measurement can make way for beauty; and how simple triangles, circles, and squares can be so dynamic.
There is something playful and sophisticatedly simple about it all.
Minimo Graph is my design discovery project. Beginning with my experience as student of Cassandre’s work, I will trace the influences that shape how I think about design, learning from the artwork and artists that inspire me to create.
Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this blog project and suggest any ideas for subjects to explore through Minimo Graph.
“Pivolo” (1924) image scanned from “A.M. Cassandre” by Henri Mouron. You can purchase “A.M. Cassandre” from online bookstores via Amazon.
While pricey, this catalogue of Cassandre’s work and the insight from his son are certainly worth the investment. “A.M. Cassandre” is like a design mentor. It is a constant source of inspiration to me as a designer, oftentimes realigning my thinking with the basic elements of design when I am stuck on particularly difficult projects.