Miriam Brüggen: The real world of ideology

Interview with Miriam Brüggen for the Baseline blog, discussing the ISTD project ‘The real world of ideology’.

An introduction to the ISTD

My course leader and board member of the ISTD, Tony Pritchard, as well as the ISTD education director, John Paul Dowling, introduced us to the society and the student assessment scheme. It was a bit of a eureka moment, as during my research for other projects, I came across the work of designers like Anthony Froshaug, Wim Crouwel or Lucienne Roberts, who were or have been members of the society.

The brief

We were asked to celebrate a book whose dewey classification number matched our birthdate. I had the opportunity to read and analyse Joe McCarney’s book The Real World of Ideology and to delve into Karl Marx’s concept and philosophy of ideology and socialism.

Approaching the project

While reading the book I picked up on recurring, interesting key terms and sources which I used as starting points for further research and visual exploration. For instance, Karl Marx’ communist manifesto was often referenced to put Marx’ understanding of the term ideology in the right context. Therefore, I conducted research about the manifesto, which was printed and published 1848 by the German Workers’ Educational Society’s print shop in London. The typeface used was Fette Fraktur, which was designed by German punchcutter Johann Christian Bauer. From there, I looked up contemporary designs with this font and designs of the communist manifesto and the idea grew to find a visual solution that combines visual influences from the 19th and 20th century. For many aspects of the design, I let myself guide through content.

Coming up with a concept

I derived a central inspiration for my concept from the publisher’s wishes “…to push philosophy out of its ivory tower”. The special edition has the ambition to summarise the key insights about ideology and to help the reader to develop an accurate, unbiased understanding of the concept. The physical appearance of the publication originates from the idea of the ivory tower. As mentioned before, the design and production of the book aims to bridge Karl Marx’s ideology of the 19th century and the modern viewpoint of the world. For instance, I combined fonts from 1848/50 and 1980, the years in which the original Manuscripts and McCarney’s book were published, and I used a traditional printing technique for a bookmark that accompanies the digital print of the inside pages of the book.

What was ‘detailing’ in the project

Once opened, the reader will realise that the pages of the publication are made of very thin, almost transparent paper. I used this technique to further express the aim of this project: to create transparency about ideology. The show through the effect of the paper needed consideration of the placement of text and stylistic devices; while designing each spread I always had to think about the page before/after, where the grid was worth a million.

The educational value of this project

Along the submission of the main outcome, we were asked to explain our project’s strategy and design with a specification booklet, which, in retrospective, influenced the most my awareness for typographic details and reasoning. Furthermore, the insights I’ve won through my research into different bits of design history like the publishing of The Communist Manifesto led to many intriguing discussions and the time I’ve spent in the book arts and letterpress workshop to produce the book provided me with invaluable practical experience.

Passing the ISTD assessment

Looking at the history of ISTD and the accomplishments of former and current members, of keeping typography to its highest standards making sure that it is constantly developed further, I am very proud to have been granted access to this community. When John Paul Dowling talked about ISTD, he pointed out that new ideas grow and thrive best via collaboration – being among people who share the same interest and complement each other with a different set of experiences and skills is the best ground for that.

Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. Cover, belly band. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. Foil blocked title. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. Inside paper. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. Inside paper. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. Introduction, p02. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. Ideological epithets, p04. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. The bourgeoisie, p08. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. The proletariat, p10. 2017
Miriam Brüggen, The Real World of Ideology. Letterpress bookmark, p12. 2017

Miriam Brüggen

Postgraduate Diploma Design for Visual Communication

London College of Communication, London University for the Arts


About ISTD

International Society of Typographic Designers, ISTD, the professional body for typographers, graphic designers and educators.

The ISTD student assessment scheme, started in 1975, is cited as a model of academic thoroughness and professionalism. Unlike many others, the scheme is not a competition as it considers the holistic achievement – not just the final outcome. The overall design process of research, reflection, strategy, design development, technical and production specification is assessed by teams of practising designers and educators. Students who are successful in the scheme are offered membership of the Society.

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