Claudia Dölling and Anja Krämer are graphic designers, font lovers and founders of the studio »Sisters of Design« in Halle (Saale). For 15 years they have been shaping the cityscape of Halle and beyond with their designs for culture, education and science. Only recently have they begun to dive deeper into digital worlds such as animation, video installation and VR. However, the focus of their work is always typography as material.
Interview of 20.12.2018 | Quelle
Claudia Dölling and Anja Krämer and beautifully designed typography are no unknown combination. For almost two decades, the two women have been sharpening the visual perception of contemporary art and science as »Sisters of Design«, especially in Halle. They received their artistic imprint at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle, a Bauhaus-influenced art school with an excellent basic education. The »Sisters of Design« always focus on forms, moods and processes of perception in all their designs. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the Arts Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt commissioned the two graphic artists with a media installation that explores the question of how the Bauhaus artists would have dealt with typography if they had had our current technical possibilities, and which virtual spaces they would have created. In a 360° projection at the Arts Foundation Saxony-Anhalt, the viewer should be able to enter directly into the world of thought of the Bauhaus artists.
MB: When did you first come into contact with the Bauhaus?
AK: My grandparents lived in Weimar in the street »Am Horn« with a view of Goethe‘s garden house. At that time we often walked past the »Haus am Horn«. My grandfather, once an architect himself at the Weimar town planning office, told me about the model house and the idea of modern building. What was so special about this house, I didn‘t understand at that time, because I grew up in a new building block and it all seemed so normal to me. I found Goethe‘s garden house or my grandparents‘ house with its pointed roof and steep wooden stairs much more interesting. It was only later that I realized that the prefabricated building in which I lived was ultimately a continuation of this modern idea.
CD: My probably first contact with the Bauhaus universe was my parents‘ desk. The Bauhaus student Franz Ehrlich had designed the 602 series for the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau, and my parents owned the wardrobe and the desk. When the apartment was to be renovated and my parents moved, the desk was unfortunately lost. Years later, during my diploma, I was looking for a desk in Halle and came across a similar model when a Burg Giebichenstein graduate’s flat was being broken up. Her grandfather, who dissolved the apartment for her, told me that he had written his thesis on it himself. At that time, I didn’t know about the connection to the Bauhaus – I simply liked the desk and today I am very happy that it has found its way back to me in this way.
MB: Have you ever travelled to Dessau?
CD: Yes, sure. Several times. I especially remember the festive reopening of the master houses Gropius and Moholy-Nagy 2014. The personal meeting with Kathy and Conrad Feininger, the grandson of Lyonel Feininger, was a wonderful moment. I very much hope to meet them again in the anniversary year.
AK: Some Bauhaus artists like Marguerite Friedlaender and Gerhard Marcks did not go from Weimar to Dessau but to Halle to Burg Giebichenstein. We both studied there as well. During our studies, we also began to come to terms with the Bauhaus era – with László Moholy-Nagy, his photograms and, of course, the light-space modulator. Although it had nothing to do with typography, it was – as in our project – an attempt to involve the visitor in the space and in the work with dynamic lighting effects.
MB: What fascinates you about the typographic language of the Bauhaus?
CD: The courageous use of image and text is impressive. There is no fear at all of extracting individual elements or letters, of turning them around and showing them in a really big way. That activates you immediately, you just have to look. During my studies, I was very interested in the Russian Constructivists and especially in the elementary typography of EI Lissitzky. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by the powerful design of this period, the clarity of the compositions and the way white spaces are dealt with.
AK: The free spaces in particular help enormously in quickly grasping the content, and clarity was one of the aims of the so-called »New Typography«. Moholy-Nagy sums it up in his Bauhaus book when he writes: »Typography is an instrument of communication. It must be a clear message in the most forceful form.«
MB: How did the idea for the very unusual project Typo Utopia come about?
CD: Of course, when you think of »Bauhaus« you immediately think of pieces of furniture and architecture. But we graphic designers were particularly interested in the collage-like design and the radical approach to typography at the time. We love the play with letters, the examination of typography. When we were asked whether we could imagine developing a free typographic work on the occasion of the Bauhaus anniversary, it was clear to us quite quickly that we wanted to go into the room for this.
AK: In the design of a wide variety of printed matter, we deal with typography on a daily basis and have already been able to realize some experiments with type in space – for example, the garden wall of the Arts Foundation. We have been playing with the idea of combining type and space by means of projection for some time now; in connection with the Bauhaus, this now makes sense. The free use of typographic material has become completely normal today. Changing letters, playing with forms, is easier than ever before. Everything is digital, virtual, multimedia and moving. Even letters can now be moved three-dimensionally in space. One wonders how the Bauhaus artists would have dealt with typography if they had had our technical possibilities. Which virtual spaces would they have created? So it seemed quite logical to us to develop a moving work and to project the space onto walls and floor by means of an all-round projection. The viewer thus stands directly in the work, and we hope that this allows a deep immersion in the Bauhaus artists‘ world of thought.
CD: Starting point for this work are selected quotations of Bauhaus artists, which we will stage typographically. The staging will refer to the respective content of the quotation. In this way, a homage to the ideas of the Bauhaus artists as well as to their typographical formal language will be created. We want to set the words and letters in motion with today's technical possibilities. What moves, changes and can become something new. And creating something new has always been the declared goal at the Bauhaus. We are looking forward to this typo-utopian experiment!