Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Graphic by Ted Naos
During a recent trip to New York City I visited the infamous Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was my first time at the museum, and unfortunately the glass atop the atrium was covered. The large volume of space that is normally full of light was a dark void, perhaps for the first time in the building’s existence. Already disappointed with the fact that I would have to make another trip to New York City to experience the true spirit of the structure. I was further disheartened by the quality of merchandise sold in the museum’s gift shop. Most of the items in the Guggenheim gift shop were everyday items with an image of the Guggenheim slapped on it, similar in fashion to the image of Mickey Mouse in a Disney gift shop. Now I am not the kind of person that purchases a souvenir at every gift shop that I walk into, but typically I enjoy museum gift shops, because the items sold are usually unique and they are items that place an emphasis on design. After spending some time patiently looking for an item worthy of adding to my library, the simple graphic of a greeting card caught my eye.
Even before my formal architectural education, I have always had an appreciation for graphic design spanning all mediums (movie posters, websites, baseball cards, books, album covers, etc.). But it seems that high design greeting cards are one of the rarest commodities. Every once in awhile I will find a small stationary store that has a collection of amazing cards, designed with beautiful graphics, and devoid of cheesy sayings. Simple graphics adorned with a ‘Thank You’ or ‘Happy Birthday”. I usually buy them all when I find them. So, it was an exceptional surprise when I saw the architecturally graphic greeting card by Ted Naos of Naos Graphics Inc. I strongly urge you to visit the site of Ted Naos, especially the games section, his portfolio contains a beautiful collection of objects and cards that represent his exceptional talent as a graphic designer.
The profiles of the New York City skyline are contrasted against a crisp blue envelope that creates a strong graphic figure. The detail applied to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is a visually graphic representation of the structure, the technique with which the graphic is composed is suggestive of sketch created by an architect. The graphic contains the minimum delineation required between figure and ground, placing an emphasis on the subject. Another strong move by Naos is to place the Guggenheim Museum at the center of the card vertically, which further emphasizes the museum within the composition.
The design is simple, clean an elegant. The card solves a structural problem neglected by other greeting cards. Naos makes use of two folds, rather than one, which allows the card to remain structurally stable when standing upright. The card when upright has depth, shade and shadow.
The image of the card unfolded reveals the graphic nature of the greeting card, and why this card is so beautiful. It would be interesting to see architectural graphics and diagrams incorporate the techniques used by Naos. The abstraction of context, color and distillation of details are perfectly executed in his design. As a pure graphic it contains the minimum information necessary to convey the building and its context, communicating clearly that this building is different than the rest of the city.