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Exhibition: DESIGNING THE SPECTACLE—Pre-Digital Graphic Design Practices

Nowadays, we use computer and several software to make artwork and design. Can you imagine how designers create their artwork without digital methods? The exhibition in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University - DESIGNING THE SPECTACLE looks into the artistry of the now-faded graphic design practices of the pre-design era. It showed the artworks produced in 1950s and 1990s, which served as a concept designs for client's approval.

Hong Kong’s abundance of signs, advertisements, and commodities has an illuminating history. The post-WWII era especially saw Hong Kong become not only a major export centre in East Asia but also a unique spectacle of consumption. In those decades, also the local graphic design industry adapted to the changing market—an industry that to an important extent defined the territory’s spectacle.

Often seen as a distant overload of images, Hong Kong’s spectacle was largely handmade. Every coloured tube of neon light, every tagline in each print ad had been carefully and manually designed. The exhibition highlights the practices that were involved in the designing of Hong Kong’s spectacle of signs and advertisements. This is a long-overdue probe into the craft behind the image.

The exhibition also showed the tools and practices adopted by designers during the design process. Most of them are salvaged from drawers and cabinets of Hong Kong design firms and former design teacher and students.

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