Freigeist Issue 4, 2021
Freigeist was a popular concept within 18th Century German literature and journalism. It was used to describe those who believed that thinking should not be constrained by certain fundamental and non-contestable values, traditional ideas and established channels of distribution. The concept of the “free-spirit” and of free-thinking is also a recurring theme within Nietzsche’s own philosophy. Although, at first glance, the Freigeist concept may appear as lacking complexity, Nietzsche found a philosophical significance within it. To him, it was more than an invocation towards individuality and the subversion of expectation but the search for and liberation of a spirit. In this fourth issue of Freigeist, conceptualised, designed and edited by Richard Baird and published by BP&O, the search for that spirit continues in the form of conversation with Swedish design studio BankerWessel.
Introduction to Issue 4
Jonas Banker and Ida Wessel are the co-founders of Swedish design studio BankerWessel. Having successfully launched their first book Process, an insight into their working practices, the studio asked me to contribute a forward for a reprint. This
was initially going to take the form of transcript, however, towards the end of our chat a chance to wrap a proposal inside a studio profile seemed far more interesting. BankerWessel: In Search of Originality was the result and will feature in the second edition of Process. Interested in both nested and super-narratives a further opportunity arose, and in the same spirit of openness that the studio presents in Process, this issue of Freigeist offers the original transcript that went on to form
the foundation of the forward. It is, at times, a personal and revealing conversation, yet one that offers some unique industry insights as well a valuable critique that will help us find further meaning and purpose in both design practice and everyday life.
"I can remember when I saw the FedEx logo. The first time when I saw the arrow I was quite old, I think over 30, and I remember it just hitting me like a hammer. I'm trying to find that emotion again."
"I think originality is a lot of things. I started to think about the Japanese expression ichigo ichie, that you have to cherish every moment, because that moment will never come back in the same way again. Even the mundane, whatever it is, eating breakfast with your kids, whatever. That exact moment when people feel a certain way. Or everyone is a certain age and has a mood, that will never come back again. We cherish the important moments throughout our lives. It's not overlooking anything, having a high sensitivity throughout life."
"The issue with social media is it shapes the nature of an opinion, it generates reactionary and arbitrary responses, not discourse because there's now a design class that are practising that don't necessarily have a rich mental schema in which to asses things, and that shapes their outcomes. So they haven't seen enough, or haven't looked at things too far outside of design, or in any great detail. An underdeveloped mental schema, for example, would be to compare things in a literal way, responses such as "it looks like a child could have done it". You get this because they know what a child's drawing looks like, everyone was a child at some point, or has a child. These recurring comments really get us nowhere, it's the same schema"
Format: 14pp Booklet
Paper 1: Colorset Indigo
Paper 2: Symbol Freelife Gloss
Finish: Black & HP Indigo White
Features: Short cover