5/02/2007

Martin Woodtli




Martin Woodtli Martin Woodtli is perhaps the most accomplished representative of the new design scene in Switzerland, where the joy of the design process (as opposed to monetary reward) seems to determine the direction of the studios. Swiss designers would rather work for small cultural projects to which they are often connected personally than to fall into the trap of large advertising conglomerates. While at first glance this may seem to be a complete break with all traditions of the famed Swiss International Style, the roots of the new generation are still firmly grounded in the world of Brockmann and Bill.
Woodtli does not subscribe to the silly adage circulated by many of his colleagues about the computer being just a tool; he sees it simply as a process. He is also the only person I know who can actually think with the keyboard. His proficiency in various programs is such that he sketches with the keyboard as quickly and uninhibitedly as with pencil and paper. Having worked with many artists within the art market, he has no interest in following them but happily remains in the design world. He considers graphic design a "wonderful medium in which you can create friction within the existing world." To work within that world, to intervene and throw it just slightly out of balance, is his biggest challenge.
Woodtli is obsessive. He seems to have taken to heart that line from Brian Eno's diary that a good way to create something original is to do something so incredibly painstaking and time-consuming that nobody else bothers. Woodtli notes, "Sixteen-square-foot black painting made with a very fine (6H) pencil would qualify." Woodtli's black squares manifest themselves in complex typographic plays and manically layered, dense patterns of everyday objects produced in perplexingly exact silk screens. After spending a couple of months as an intern in my New York studio, he returned to Switzerland, buried himself in a two-year excess of work, and created a beautifully conceived monograph. He also became the youngest member of Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI), that most venerable group of the international design establishment.