The International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno was established in 1963 with the purpose to present and reflect poster design, visual identities and editorial design. Since 2014 we have seen an effort to develop new concepts that are closer to the more contemporary meaning of design. The 26th and 27th years of Biennial were organized by the curators and graphic designers Radim Pešek, Adam Macháček and Tomáš Celizna. This 28th year of Biennial, the curators have changed to a team of OKOLO (Matěj Činčera, Jan Kloss, Adam Štěch), known for their multidisciplinary approach in design, as well as curator activities.
One of the biggest issues of the 26th and 27th exhibitions was that graphic design was not presented well to general visitors, or public. It seems that the team of OKOLO solved this problem at hand and addressed questions such as: WHO should the Biennial of graphic design be presented to (who is the audience), WHERE should it be presented (location), and HOW should it appeal to a wider audience (public interest). These essential questions coincided with the graphic designer's priorities in their own work.
It seems that the team of OKOLO curators thought about the meaning and context of the institution Moravská galerie. They realized that there must be an appropriate communication and visualization between the client (institution), the public (visitors) and the given topic (graphic design).
I will mention a few examples of how, in my opinion, the curators of the team OKOLO achieved this concept of better communication. First of all, it was the selection and presentation of all exhibitions in one building. I appreciated highlighting some topics and phenomena that the jury found common for applying projects and competition.
Second, the texts at the exhibition were edited together with other specialists (such as theoreticians) in every section of the Biennial and it was easy to read and understand the main points and reasons for their selection. The texts were written from the perspective of general visitors (i.e. public), and not the designer’s community.
Third, accompanying exhibitions were understandable and clear throughout the installation, visual identities and texts. Visitors were able to observe the design from different perspectives – from personalities of Czech design such as Aleš Najbrt or František Štorm, to educative exhibition about background of motion design, and to overlapping designs between product and graphic disciplines and geographical aspects of design presented in the exhibition "Porto".
After a puzzled presentation and mixed messages about graphic design from the previous two years – “Design Education” (26th year) and “Reflection of Graphic Design Terms” (27th year), which, in my opinion, showed too much over-intellectualism and inner manner subjects - we finally experienced more simplicity, functionality and readability in the 28th Biennial in Brno.
From the perspective of contemporary designers, this year's Biennial did not bring any surprises or criticisms. I would say that the curator team of OKOLO was able to present more interesting interpretation of all the design topics compared to the previous two years. Even though this was not the main objective of the Biennial this year, it will be a concept to look at in the future years of Biennial.