Design Inspiration – Tammy Chan

De Stijl also known as “The Style” or Neoclassicism is a Dutch art movement founded in 1917 that embraced a utopian vision of ‘one style’, following the abstraction techniques of cubism and a response to World War I conflicts. The movement emphasized harmonious relationship of art elements and order, to a degree of utmost simplicity and abstraction. To De Stijl, art was not an individualistic style or expression, but ‘one style’ known as their style. Reality was to be reduced to the purest essential form and ideal, basic elements focused on colour, line, and form. De Stijl is recognized by its geometric use of squares, rectangles, horizontal lines and at times, in a black, white, and primary colour scheme.


Piet Mondrian
Composition with Yellow, Blue, Black, Red, and Gray
88.5 x 72.5 cm
Oil on canvas

Piet Mondrian’s painting, ‘Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray’ presents a simplistic geometric shape in various sizes of rectangles and squares separated by thick black lines. The oil painting follows the basic design principles of geometric shapes, asymmetric compositions, and range of black, white, and primary colors. Mondrian’s painting represents an approach of autonomy and order, a divorce of traditional figurative art style, and utilization of ultimate simplicity and abstraction to demonstrate De Stijl’s style intentions.


Barato, Untitled, 2017.

Barato’s ‘Untitled’ design presents varied coloured geometric shapes of rectangles and squares in balanced horizontal, grid-like rows and in various colours. Barato’s work is driven by Google’s image search engine algorithms, following their harmonious and composition of boxes from image search. His work demonstrates the De Stijl style of Google’s algorithm of “rectangles with the dominant color of each image, which distributes along the screen according to the size and proportion of the images, before showing all the pixels” (“Googling”) Like Piet Mondrian, Barato utilizes a simplified, minimalist approach to composition with clean lines, flat colors, and simplicity. He follows the influence of Mondrian’s geometric shapes, lines and asymmetrical composition. The graphic design modernizes itself by minimalizing the work, turning the thick separation lines into thinner, less visible white lines. Barato’s designs vary in colour depending on the search of subject in contrast to Mondrian’s limited primary colour palette, in some of Barato’s works, the palette is monochromatic, while others are in all kinds. The scale of Barato’s shapes are apparently larger and utilize less shapes to emphasize a minimalist and simplistic design, an organized horizontal line limits the  height of the shapes, and never goes over more than four rows of shapes. Barato’s untitled artwork serves as a reflection and evident inspiration of Piet Mondrian’s style, but in a modernized digital version displayed as a form of street art billboards and advertising. Rather than Mondrian’s use of traditional oil medium, the artist utilizes digital graphic art as his process of creation.

Works Cited

Barato. “Googling.” Cargo Collective,
Barato. “Untitled.” Cargo Collective, 2017, Barato. “Googling.” Cargo Collective,
Mondrian, Piet. “Composition with Yellow, Blue, Black, Red, and Gray.” PubHist, 1921,

Art nouveau was a movement (from 1890-1910) embraced by Europe and later America, characterized by the uses of natural, organic forms and line in attempt to free itself from the dominating imitative historicism of 19th century art. As an ornamental movement, inspiration was drawn from Japanese woodblock prints for its flat colour, flowing, contour lines, and flowing forms.


‘Job Cigarette Papers’,Alphonse Mucha, 1896. Colour lithograph

Job cigarette papers’ reflects an Art Nouveau – styled advertising poster of a dreamy state of “a woman with a lighted cigarette rising smoke intertwining with her swirling , Pre-Raphaelite hair” (“Alphonse Mucha”). Mucha presents a scandalous yet mysterious image of the woman smoking and untied hair, found unrealistic in that current time period. The curved lines of the woman’s hair and smoke stand out against the rhythmic lines of the zigzag frame (“Alphonse Mucha”). Her expression is presented as if she were a lost in pleasure from the cigar. The figures and pattern are presented in a asymmetrically balanced composition, outlined by thick dark lines.


Malleus, ‘MEI 2006’ poster

Following elements of ‘Job cigarette papers’, the Italian visual arts group: Malleus presents their event advertising poster of ‘MEI 2006’. Malleus’ style reflects the art nouveau period, describing their posters as “these ingredients blend in with the main element of their poetics; that is the female form, the primordial goddess, from whom everything comes. Blackened art nouveau mixed with elements of surrealism and quotes from the school of expressionism glowing in its amber, resulting in an almost psychedelically overwhelming experience of visual magick” (“About”) ‘MEI 2006’ shows the use of flat colours and two-dimensional space, thick dark contour lines of the figure; especially the hair, organic, whiplash swerving lines, minimal detail presented. The colour of the poster is displayed in the modern use of flat colour over the Mucha’s subtle shading and shadowed tones of the figure and smoke. The choice of female subjects for advertising are evident in the posters, presenting them equivalent to mythical goddess level with similar facial expressions, in a sensuous way and in an almost-nude form. As if the advertisements were utilizing the female sex to sell and promote. In particular, the hair of both subjects is greatly emphasized, displaying long, wavy, curly blonde, luxurious locks. Malleus’ volume of the hair and the expressive curvilinear taken from Mucha’s piece creates a similar sort of movement and rhythm overshadowing the dark and temperate colours of the background. The surrounding frame also utilizes the Art Nouveau styled ornamental pattern, showing vine-like ‘S’ shaped lines over the zigzag. While the text separates from the image in overly-decorated serifs but a neutral colour so that the image is what catches the eye first, a sense of direction for the eye over Mucha’s ‘Job cigarette papers’. ‘MEI 2006’ serves as a modernized, simplified inspiration of Alphonse Mucha’s Art Nouveau- styled:‘Job cigarette papers’.

Works cited

“Alphonse Mucha.” The Art Story,

“Job | Mucha, Alphonse.” V&A Search the Collections,      mucha-alphonse/.


Malleus. “MEI 2006.” MALLEUS ROCK ART LAB, Malleus,