Winter 2005

Back to basics in Basel [extract]

Basel School of Design's First Summer Program was a life-changing experience

When the Schule für Gestaltung Basel (Basel School of Design) first announced its First Summer Program ‘Basics in Design and Typography’, three weeks of workshops for graphic designers, students and educators, it emphasised the fact that the course would be conducted by Wolfgang Weingart and would ‘re-open a dialogue’ with the legendary Advanced Class of Graphic Design, closed since 1999.

Pilgrims came from Brazil, Colombia, France, Mexico, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the US. There was a mix of students, tutors and practitioners, aged between 20 and 40, from a wide range of backgrounds. What they shared was a knowledge and appreciation of the Basel School of Design philosophy, mostly gained from contact with graduates of the Advanced Class of Graphic Design . . .

. . . An essential feature of the experience was the city of Basel itself, conspicuously affluent and with a rich cultural heritage displayed in its fine blend of medieval and contemporary architecture. The course emphasised its location within the medieval city, and encouraged students to take different routes to and from the school every day. Not that there was much time for exploration – the course provided a wide-ranging programme of extra-curricular activity that occupied every evening and weekend.

The course was delivered in a series of huge, clean white rooms, previously used as exhibition spaces within the Gewerbemuseum (trade museum) building. On the floor above was the Basel School of Design library; on the floor below was the Swiss Poster Collection. Each student was given their own enormous working space for the course. At the start of each class, all the equipment and materials were to be found ready and waiting in a neat pile on each desk. However, by far the most noticeable feature of the studio was the complete absence of computers . . .