Here's a brilliant way to get kids excited about art museums: Turn all the boring stuff — the exhibit catalogs and the signage and the like — into 55 pounds of mouth-watering, teeth-rotting, brain-addling candy.
Apparently, it works for adults, too, because Andreas Pohancenik's graphics for the exhibition Design Criminals — made entirely, fantastically out sugar pastillage — were a smash, earning the UK-based Austrian designer a nomination for the prestigious Brit Insurance Design Awards recently.
The exhibit opened and closed last fall at the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts, and it was mounted as a contrarian rebuke to "Ornament and Crime," Austrian architect Adolf Loos's classic modernist manifesto against all things flowery. In featuring everything from frilly cakes to tattoos, the show proved that what was detested in Loos's day is palatable today; in effect, it was about the fleeting nature of taste. So Pohancenik, a partner at the London design studio Practice + Theory, decided to use that idea literally.
The entrance to the MAK featured a whopping 13-foot-by-13-foot typographic sign made entirely out of sugar. Elsewhere in the exhibit, Pohancenik sprinkled saccharine little graphic flourishes that'd look right at home on a wedding cake. All told, he used 55 pounds of pastillage — a sugar-based dough — which took seven hours to prepare and 10 hours to install. The exhibition catalogs, also from Pohancenik's hand, sandwiched 15 waffle-paper sheets between a pure-sugar slipcase. The ink, of course, was edible.
Our favorite part in all this, though, has nothing to do with the candy (scout's honor!). It's the typeface, a weird, wonderful, whimsical thing that flowers in every direction and slants to the left for no good reason at all except that it looks kinda' cool. The typeface was designed explicitly for the exhibition, and it's named after one of Loos's (many) ex-wives. The reason: To remind of the ephemerality of personal taste, albeit in a decisively less-than-sweet way.
[Images courtesy of Practice + Theory]