Monday, January 9, 2017

The Secret of Drawing: Drawing by Design

by Drew Martin 
In the final installation titled Drawing by Design of the four-part series, The Secret of Drawing, BBC host Andrew Graham-Dixon takes a look at drawing’s most practical application; design. For the designer, drawing is the starting point of an idea that can be realized as a product such as a building, furniture, or fashion. And while that does indeed seem practical, we see several artists at work during this hour who have flights of fancy before directing their ideas into something that can in fact be made. 

Graham-Dixon first sits with Mark Fisher who has made a career of designing stage sets for bands such as U2, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd. They are grand structures that can be set up and broken down in a matter of hours – temporary, experiential, fully-loaded architectural stages that transform sports stadiums into music venues for thousands of fans. Graham-Dixon calls Fisher a real “Renaissance man” for his range of talents, and they both acknowledge the influence of Leonardo da Vinci. 

In this show we get an introduction to the history of perspective through the work of Filippo Brunelleschi and Piero della Francesca. The latter referred to perspective as his mistress, when his wife tried to call him to bed at night, away from his studies and drawings/paintings.

This segues to an exploration of architecture with the fantastic ideas of the French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée, and the brat pack group of architects who went by the name of Archigram, which influenced the likes of Zaha Hadid, and Ron Arad. 

Arad explains how computers changed his profession.

"I always thought as an arrogant student that you can only design what you can draw. You know? If you can’t draw, how can you design? It’s different now with computers because you can design things that you couldn’t possible draw."

"In the old days there was, you know, the drawings, and then the drafting technical drawings, and then there used to be the artisans – model  makers that make the prototypes. Now with computers, and computer drawings, and with computer models, there’s no middle man."

And finally, we round off the show with a look at fashion drawings.

We see the drawings of Julie Verhoeven who is a fashion designer. I liked seeing her at work because of a unique approach whereby she spends weeks accumulating a mass of visual stimuli before she puts all her ideas together as drawings and then she barely takes the pen off the page because she says she doesn’t want to break the line of her thought.

The full documentary of this fourth and final episode can be watched here: