BRUTAL: Views from Brazil's Concrete Utopia

Finalist 2018

Graphic design student Tais Ghelli aimed to explore the boundaries of transmedia design with an exhibition on Brazilian Brutalist Architecture. Using the Cannibalist Manifesto—which guided much of the Brazilian modernist movement—as a starting point, Ghelli sought to create a language (and ultimately a space) that translated the tensions, vitality and boldness of the works produced during this period.

The Cannibalist Manifesto, written by poet Oswald de Andrade in 1928, was a call for visual artists, poets, writers, architects and designers to seek the real meaning of Brazilian identity in their works. It revives cannibalism as a metaphor, encouraging Brazilians to "eat" their European influences only to create works that are exclusively Brazilian. It urged artists to find meaningful ways to express realities inherent in Brazilian culture, while also attempting to define Brazilian identity itself.

In architecture, this movement gave birth to works aimed at emphasizing the social importance of architectural space and reconciling historically marginalized groups. The use of humble materials was also characteristic of this period and designers sought to rethink the impact of form in urban spaces.

The design of modular custom typography speaks to the boldness of the architectural forms in the works of Brutalist architects from Brazil, while the richness of the colors serves to establish a second layer of visual tension. This language travels across media and can be seen in print, on screens and ultimately merging back into space through an interactive installation.

A reactive response is prompted as the user walks towards or away from the installation, and Brutalist buildings reveal themselves or hide in between the exaggerated typographic forms. The encounter of essentially divergent mediums (analog and digital) serves to accentuate the tensions that are so commonplace in Brazil's complex past, and the large typography not only miniaturizes the architectural works but also becomes the architectural structure, which engulfs the viewer and content, and imposes itself on the very space it inhabits.

Design Firms: 

Art Center College of Design, Tais Ghelli

Project Area: 

336 sq ft

Open Date: 

September 2017

Project Budget: 

$300

Photo Credits: 

Tais Ghelli (photography)

Consultants: 

Ivan Cruz, Miles Mazzie, Brad Bartlett

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