The Study Room
Tabula Rasa: Worlds Connecting or Design Mannerism

As a result of the victory of modernisation, the word ‘design’ is prevalent across the globe. You can talk about design, but only as long as one situates the conversation within the disciplines and established rubrics of modern design. However, the fundamental meaning of the word ‘design’ and how it is interpreted is not so obvious and common. Interpretations, mindsets, and nuances vary from culture to culture and country to country.

While graphic design history in the 20th century has become rich and meaningful, the variations in perception of what ‘design’ actually is have not been explored deeply. During the Cold War period, publications and events like Brno Biennial worked as the gateway of potential cultural exchange, such as how design might be defined between cultures.

Due to rapid globalisation since the end of 20th century, graphic design has become both deeply rigorous, but at the same time, deeply homogenous. Modern graphic design (and its discourses) seems to be more and more distilled and filter out the culture and history outside of the established boundaries of design as cultural capital, cultural production, and centralised discourse.

It is ironic that the division between ‘locality’ and ‘globality’ has been so deep while technology and economy have increased the speed and ease of global communication.

However, there have been individuals and works whom have veered away from the established norms – the established track of Western modernist ideals, norms and forms. A global inability to procure localised bodies of knowledge – be they geographic or metaphysical – is of utmost interest to us in terms of curation of the Brno Study Room 2016 – to help expose publications either on the periphery or completely outside of Western ideas of graphic design discourse, dialectics, and comprehension.

We aim for the Brno Biennial Study Room 2016 to be a place of reconnecting what we perceive as ‘worlds’ – spheres of activity that are technocratic, cultural and ‘other’ in nature – reconciling the slippage between the ‘local’ and the ‘global’ in a heretofore unseen way that sidesteps Orientalization, imparts mystery, and promotes understanding. We are at a moment in time where what ‘design’ is seems commonly accepted globally, yet in reality represents a multitude of attitudes and perspectives.

Reading room attendees are urged to think of the tabula rasa (the blank slate) in its most innate form – the wax slate which the Romans used for note-taking. Attempt to allow your mind to warm over your preconceptions of what design actually is prior to involving yourself in this exhibition. The Neoliberal era’s Big 5 (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) have shorn citizens of the world of their autonomy in decision-making and ideology-forming, shifting individuals en masse from being users to being mere participants. Our hope is that individuals who encounter the Study Room do the opposite – that the findings within instead instil a sense of agency and re-evaluation, of mystery and greater meaning.

Conceived by Kiyonori Muroga (JP)Kiyonori Muroga is an editor, writer and lecturer. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, he has edited Idea magazine and books on graphic design, typography and visual culture since 1999 as well as contributing essays on the topics. He also teaches at various design schools including MEME Design School, Musashino Art University and Tokyo University of the Arts. & Ian Lynam (US)Ian Lynam is a Tokyo-based designer operating at the intersection of graphic design, design education and design research. Originally hailing from New York, Lynam has a BS in Graphic Design from Portland State University and an MFA in Graphic Design from CalArts. He is Chair and faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the MFA Graphic Design program, faculty at Meme Design School and at Temple University Japan. He is a co-founder of Néojaponisme, a critical cultural online journal.

The Study Room project explores the importance of book references in the development of design practice and continues a series of exhibitions started within the 26th Brno Biennial 2014. The selected publications are acquisitions to the thematic collection of the library of the Moravian Gallery in Brno dedicated to graphic design and visual communication.

This exhibition was commissioned in the form of an assignment, given by the curators of the 27th Brno Biennial.


Ordering the World

A Chinese Font Walk
Zhi-Jie Ke and Wei-Hsiang Su
Faces Publishing Ltd., 2014

Kon-Tiki and I
Erik Hesselberg
Allen & Unwin, 1951

Jindalrae Document 02: Visual Poetry – Kumgangsan
Lee Kiseob, Ahn Byung-hak, Kim Suzung, Leem Jeong-hye, Kim Doo-sup, Min Byung-geol, Kim Jayhoon, Back Hyun-hee, Cho Hyun, Lee Kwan-yong, Ahn Sam-yeol, Choi Byoung-il, Kymn Kyungsun
Sizirak Publishing Co., 2006

通勝 / The Chinese Almanac
Various publishers in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, published annually, Annual

Connecting Cultures

2の冒険 / Powers of Two
松田行正 / Yukimasa Matsuda
牛若丸 / Ushiwakamaru, 2015

決定版 ヘタうま大全集 / Definitive Edition of Heta-Uma
テリー・ジョンスン監修 / Terry Johnson (SV)
Blues Interactions, 2005

Design 360度 第049期 / Design 360° Concept and Design Magazine No. 49 – ‘Designer’s Archive’
Sandu Publishing Co. Ltd., 2014

Configuration of Space

Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers; Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts
Leonard Koren
Imperfect Publishing, 1994/2008, 2015

Architecture Without Architects: A Short Introduction to Non-Pedigreed Architecture
Bernard Rudofsky
Doubleday, 1964


ドミトリーともきんす / Dormitory Tomokins
高野文子 / Fumiko Takano
中央公論社 / Chūōkōron-shinsha, 2014

Understanding Comics, The Invisible Art
Scott McCloud
Harper Perennial, 1993

『向井周太郎 世界プロセスとしの身振り』/ Gesture – Miburi – as World Process
向井周太郎 / Shutaro Mukai
Musashino Art University Museum & Library, 2013

Line Style
三嶋典東 / Tentou Mishima
P-Vine Books, 2009


Symbolism & Culture-building

雙喜 / Until Death Do Us Part
Thomas Sauvin
Jiazazhi Press, 2015

風下 / Kazashimo
Fumio Tachibana
DNP文化振興財団 / DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion, 2011

360°Book 富士山 / Book of Mt. Fuji
青幻舎 / Yusuke Ōno
Seigensha, 2015

Space & Texture

Designing Design
原研哉 / Kenya Hara
Lars Müller Publisher, 2007

八木良太展 サイエンス / フィクション / Lyota Yagi Solo Exhibition Science/Fiction
Lyota Yagi
Kanagawa Prefectural Gallery, 2014

『つつみのことわり』伊勢貞丈『包之記』の研究 / A Study of Sadatake Ise’s The Principles of Packaging
山口信博 / Nobuhiro Yamaguchi
折形デザイン研究所 / Origata Design Institute, 2013

アイデアNo. 346 特集:羽良多平吉「Yes, I See」 / Idea No. 346 ‘heiQuiti Harata: Yes, I see’
HeiQuiti Harata
Seibundo Shinkosha, 2011


Logo Book Stefan Kanchev
Magdalina Stancheva
Janet 45 Publishing, 2012

Liu Xiaodong’s Hotan Project & Xinjiang Research
Liu Xiaodong, Hou Hanru and Ou Ning, etc.
Today Art Museum & China CITIC Press, 2013

S-meme 6 「演劇/ライブから考える」/ Thinking from the Theater / Live S-meme 6
んだいスクールオブデザイン / Sendai School of Design, 2013

廣告表示:_____。:老牌子.時髦貨.推銷術,從日本時代廣告看見臺灣的摩登生活 / The Advertisement Says ______._
Rou-jin Chen
Rye Field Publications, 2015

超・大河原邦男展 レジェンド・オブ・メカデザイン展覧会図録 / Kunio Okawara: Legend of Mechanical Design
兵庫県立美術館 / Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, 2013



Finnegans Wake
James Joyce Faber & Faber, 1939

Love for Sale: The Words and Pictures of Barbara Kruger
Kate Linker
Harry N. Abrams, 1990

Design Is Not What You Think It Is
To be determined
To be determined
Sometime in the future

The Abolition of Work – Parts 1 and 2
Bruno Borges (ilustrace/illustration), Bob Black (text)
Oficina Arara, 2013/2014

Organizing Contemporary Culture

花椿 No. 453 / Hanatsubaki No. 453
Shiseido, 1988

Domino 1–7
Domino editorial board
G& Press, 2011–2015

Visualizing Language

Aksharayoga: A Portfolio of Contemporary Indian Calligraphy
Kirti Trivedi, editor
IDC, IIT, Bombay, 1988

Yukimasa Matsuda
Ushiwakamaru, 2003

囊括万殊裁成一相:中国汉字“六体书”艺术 / From Diverseness to Uniqueness: Art of Chinese Calligraphy in Six Types
Zhao Hong, Yan Weihong
Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2014

 แบบอักษรโบราณ.-- พิมพ์ครั้งที่ ๓. / Ancient Manuscripts. – Edition 3
Various / Department of Fine Arts, National Library editions, 2013


The Nature of Order. Book One. The Phenomenon of Life
Christopher Alexander
The Centre for Environmental Structure, 2002

Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945
Orit Halpern
Duke University Press, 2014

原研哉 / Kenya Hara
Lars Müller Publishers, 2015

SKMoMA Highlights: 350 Works from the Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, Korea
Lim Geun-jun
Specter Press, 2009



Pražák Palace
Husova 18