Imaginary Interview with Peter Behrens
An interview with Peter Behrens a painter who turned to a graphic designer
Peter Behrens, AEG (General Electric Company) poster, c. 1910
Q: Salutation Mr. Behrens for having made it to the interview, it is a pleasure to have you. Your figure design sends a special sense of gesture, what was the idea behind it? And how did you accurately capture it in the graphic
A: Thank you, first of all, I love and respect people who support my work and this is what you are doing. Actually, the gesture is a redesign of the arc lamp. When I was re-designing the lamp, I had in mind the public buildings, railways stations, and warehouse. Basically, it was about decorating special forms that can accord with the actual character of an item that incorporates the new technology.
Talking of capturing the whole idea, it was pretty simple because it is all about learning to see the total figure and then figure out how different part would relate to the whole body. It is pure thinking and creativity, provided you have the picture in mind you can’t miss capturing it in the graphic.
Q: What impact did it have? I mean, I like the art but am curious how did people receive.
A: Well, the impact was phenomenal, I have no doubt. At the turn of the 19th century, the retailer uses to sell unanimous white label products which were manufactured in industries. Therefore, it was difficult for customers to identify the product that was of high quality as all products were uniform as they were standardized as such, they had no choice as far as the design of the product is concerned. Moreover, the lack of labels and brand names made it even challenging for consumers and so I had to redesign the lamp in such a way that it can incorporate all this aspect. To distinguish the product from the competitors. And looking back it was worth it because the impact was massive.
Q: Why the dark white colour?
A: The white color is actually a symbolism of the lamp because the lamp is a symbol of light. So, the whole idea was that we are bringing light into darkness but this time in a different version. The picture does tell that something is different from the common lights that were available in a different part. For instance, the design heralds a new age of capitalism which consequently had a superb impression within the market place
Q: What impact did the lamp had on people’s perception of the artist?
A: It changed the way people perceive artist to some great extent. For instance, over the past artist were seen as to give form to the culture in which they come or live. However, the wake of industrialization and modernity called the artist to advance their work to blend with the spirit and the movement of the moment.
Q: So, the graphic removed the aspect of history and culture?
A: Not entirely, we had to create designs that could project the societal rhythm and spirit that reflected modernity and not replicating historical models and any other old age forms associated with the past. Therefore, artist strived to create good design and at the same time trying not to pursue functionality at the expense of aesthetics. And like you see the design, I chose not to emphasize much on functionality, instead, I had to contextualize my design in such a way that it looked like modern construction that contextualizes the dynamic political as well as the social environment of the early 2oth century.
Anderson, S. (2002). Peter Behrens and a new architecture for the twentieth century. Mit Press: 11-43