Ann Dijkstra, photographs of part of collection of bags, 2016.
Because of their design and typography, I collect plastic and paper bags for years. In the Netherlands you have to pay now for a plastic bag. I find this a good development, because it is better for the environment to take your own bag for shopping. In Milan where I live, the new fresh shopping bag of high end fashion stores is something to be proud of. (A little bit depending on the brand), the bag is a democratic and low end ‘art’ form. The store can represent themselves with images, different kinds of typography, or with a slogan. Most of the time museums and (art) bookstores choose for a minimalist graphic image, they present only their logo in for example the (non) colours black, white, red or grey. Transparency is also a common choice for minimalist designed bags. The goods you buy are visible for others and therefore participate in the overall design. The design is not fixed but changes and depends on the individual. In the opinion of the store or museum, you have to be proud of what you buy and show it to the public. It’s a little bit of an exhibition on the street.
Typographic experiment you see on the bag of the S.M.A.K museum in Gent. The number 5 is constructed from horizontal printed logo signs. Also the bag Futura is only stamped with letters in the sans serif font named ‘Futura.’ At the bag of Artbook you see the logo printed vertical on both sides, written in mirror writing, when you look through the bag. The graphic designer made use of the transparency by the choice of his typography.
A year ago I saw the work Insolence (2007) from Sylvie Fleury in Palazzo Reale in Milan. She made an installation of high end fashion store bags. The bags are all simple in design, with logo and made of folded cardboard. These bags are not simply readymades. Fleury views them as abstract, because the contents of the bags are hidden from view and thus, their seduction is completely superficial. The transparency of a bag in this view is something that withdraws the aura of a product. You can see the goods immediately. It makes the goods open for public view and breaks with the mystery that high end stores want to maintain. The seduction is not even superficial, but is totally gone away by transparency. (unless you see the ‘open’ bag as a window and want to buy the goods just because you see them represented in the bag).
More about typography? See also Landmarks (typography in the woods)