Kurt Weill: Born in Dessau, Jew, musical revolutionary, citizen of the world. A new permanent exhibition, commissioned by the Kurt Weill Center Dessau and designed by Plural, provides diverse and novel approaches to the multifaceted life and work of the famous creator of the “Threepenny Opera” and of numerous Broadway musicals.
Following the ingenious concept of Cologne musicologist Professor Andreas Eichhorn, the exhibition gives access to the life and work of Kurt Weill in three ways: In the basement through re-interpreted and staged objects and portraits; on the ground floor chronologically on the basis of Weill’s places of life; on the upper floor with an interactive research table that makes it possible to experience the complex ‘Kurt Weill cosmos’ digitally; and last, but not least, at any place in the building: by listening to the audioguide. Let Kurt Weill’s music go under your skin.
The exhibition and its media were integrated so carefully into the existing architecture, so that it seems as if the building and the exhibition were from one cast. Prof. Dr. Andreas Eichhorn, curator of the exhibition
The Kurt Weill Society and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation attached particular importance to honouring the outstanding architecture of the New Masters' House and its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as early as the tendering stage. Plural convinced the client with a restrained exhibition design which was characterised by the greatest respect for the architecture and adhered to the highest standards of monument protection. Instead of conventional showcase presentations, we realised reversible fixtures and wall projections. We picked up on architectural details in the fixtures and matched materials, surfaces and colours to the on-site conditions. The minimalist and pointed use of digital media in the New Master’s House is a reverence to the former resident, the media-art pioneer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.
The exhibition and its media feature such a sophisticated design, so that it seems as if the building and the exhibition were from a single cast. Prof. Dr. Andreas Eichhorn, curator of the exhibition
The Moholy-Nagy New Master House consists of a single large room with built-in galleries and balconies. A music sound system here would be disturbing due to the difficult acoustics. For this reason, we implemented an audio guide. It features 99 works by Kurt Weill and so-called “audio tableaus”, radio play miniatures by German sound artist Theo Roos.
The permanent exhibition “Kurt Weill—A Citizen of the World and Dessau” was funded by the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt as a project for the Bauhaus anniversary in 2019.
Kurator: Prof. Dr. Andreas Eichhorn (Curator)
Design: Plural (Prof. Severin Wucher/direction, Frank Übler/graphic design, Kilian Krug/information design, Markus Lerner/screen design, creative coding)
Exhibition management: Kurt-Weill-Gesellschaft e.V. (Joachim Landgraf/direction, Alena Hertrich, Constanze Mitter, Katharina Markworth
Objects: Saygel & Schreiber, Berlin (Manuel Schubbe/direction)
3D modeling: Matthias Lipeck/direction, Chris Busch, Tobias Erik John, Christian Kirchner, Annika Kirste, Franz Lorek, Anh Duy Phan, Vanessa Rüpprich, Maximilian Rüth, Katja Rasbasch, Andrea Rinaldi.
Media planning and production: asignum! (Sven Schneider)
Audio tableaus: Theo Roos
Exhibition construction: Neubauen.Design Potsdam (Anne Schulz, Sebastian Bockrandt)
Consultation: Bauhaus Foundation Dessau (Dr. Werner Möller, Martin Brück), Untere Denkmalschutzbehörde Stadt Dessau-Roßlau (Monika Lüttich, Jeannette Kwast)
Seven minutes per patient. Operate or rehabilitate? Have I missed something? A quick diagnosis leaves little room for doubt, much less for a second opinion from a colleague.
To significantly reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis, you have to understand the mental models a doctor uses. Dr. Martin Hirsch
As Head of research and development at the Berlin start-up Ada, the neuroscientist Dr. Martin Hirsch is a forward thinker. First and foremost, he is interested in visual diagnostic reasoning, a thought process that plays a key role in critical decision-making.
Plural intensively unpacked mental models and medical diagnostic processes. We conceptualised an interactive tool that visualises the reasoning process in an intuitive interface doctors can immediately relate to. Not surprising if you take into consideration that the UX is based on the internal dialogue doctors are repeatedly trained in from the start of their education. It compares observations and assumptions until the diagnosis is sound.
Scores of sketches, considerations, designs and tests later, it was clear: The diagnostic reasoning UX will form the backbone of a full spectrum of services for doctors and patients that we design with Ada.
After watching the introduction video and a demo session both GP groups were already able to use the system on their own. (...)
This is especially interesting because the GPs themselves described the system as “sophisticated”.Dr. Claire Novorol
The intuitive functionality did not only impress in clinical trials, the jury of the international Usability-Awards were also convinced by it. In addition Ada (still named Medx at the time) was awarded the German Federal government and German industries’ innovation prize and selected as a Landmark in the Land of Ideas 2015.
Museums and archives can often only present a fraction of their collection. The walls don’t have enough space to showcase everything and not all of the works are significant enough to warrant their permanent display. But curators need an overview of the full collection in order to illuminate its undiscovered potential. Visitors also benefit from the access it offers to intellectually sophisticated themes and contexts.
Plural’s interactive Research Table clearly visualises hidden connections between archival data. The visualisations contextualise the collections and their geneses, blazing new trails for academic work. The objects’ diverse ranges of references are also of interest to visitors who can access a fascinating network of works, artists and their touchpoints. The relationships between collections and objects also become clear.
In the past curators had to work with complicated databases to access information about artworks. The digital Research Table’s elegant, award-winning interface makes accessing and working with the information a breeze. It’s even possible with a tablet and museum visitors can take the Research Table’s multimedia content with them on tours in interactive audio guides.
Find out more: visualarchive.de
Researching upheavals in the world of work and labour: This was the task of the International Research Center “Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History” at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Plural proves that academic work does not have to look boring, but can also shine visually.
Plural coined the catchy name “re:work” for the research center and developed a narrative logo that can change dynamically. Instead of a interchangeable, meaningless logo, a modular brand system was created—concise, friendly, and recognisable.
We used historical documentary photographs for re:work. To give the heterogeneous motifs a characteristic look and feel, we applied a rough “pixel grain”. We achieved a highly aesthetic value by printing the photographs on coloured surfaces in silver metallic.
re:work lives for its researchers. It has always been the team’s goal to build a sustainable science community. For this reason, re:work published large-format photo posters every year. Maurice Weiss, renowned photographer from German photo agency ‘Ostkreuz’, took portraits of fellows and staff for this purpose. The portrait posters which helped recognising faces and learning names, hang prominently in the hallway of the office and have reportedly become sought-after collectors’ items among the visiting scholars.
While science is increasingly migrating to the web, where it is often only visible as a search result, re:work has decided to make an impression in printed form as well. Published in 2016 and reissued in 2019, the image brochure, lavishly produced in 5-colour printing and with a wire comb binding with spine lettering, documents the faces, activities and research results of re:work.
Not only because of the content, but also because of the high quality of design and printing, the work has become a sensational recognition of the diverse achievements of the international re:work community.
When the Museum Wiesbaden approached us—”We need a new logo! And by the wa, no one is able to find their way around the building. Could you take a look at it?”—, we didn’t yet realize what was in store for us: a new directorate, a new program, a more than winding building, and above all: rethinking the changing role of museums.
From 2013 onwards, we worked with the museum’s staff to develop a lively identity that is more than just a new logo. It intelligently represents the museum’s two departments, Arts and Nature, and it is a visual bracket for the heterogeneous art collections, from the Old Masters to one of the world’s most important Jawlensky collections to a further collection focus on Minimal Art, as well as for the important natural science collections, including those of Maria Sibylla Merian.
It is not yet widespread in German hotels to align the appearance, communication media and wayfinding systems with the needs and expectations of the users. In consultation with the client, we therefore focused our work on the service aspect and a cross-media information architecture for the communication media. The goal was clear: To achieve the greatest possible effect and the best possible recognition with every appearance, without appearing boring in the long run.
From the lettering of the iconic museum colonnades to the lettering of the smallest crustacean in a showcase of the Natural History Collection presentation: All fonts, formats and proportions are derived from the design principles of the communication media and are matched to the thematic and application contexts in terms of materials, color scheme and typography.
The cross-media design concept avoids the often common break between print and web media. Image-forming communication media—e.g. posters and website with information on an exhibition—appear to belong together through a unified typography, information architecture and visual language.
Service-oriented information (such as the event calendar) are always consistently formatted in all play-out formats: Content on the desktop and mobile website, on info screens in the building and in the printed booklets appears always identical in terms of structure and graphic elements.
With our many years of expertise and outstanding production partners, Plural also handles the design, pre-press, and production of elaborate catalogs. The spectrum of publications for the Museum Wiesbaden ranges from printed collection presentations (such as the double volume “Art/Nature” shown here) to exhibition catalogs and artist monographs.
The ability to clearly articulate complex matter is invaluable, especially if the audience is unfamiliar with the topic. A simple, concise presentation illustrates new results and brings thought and hypothesis into a more traceable form.
To formulate thinking models graphically helps to structure, reflect and succinctly summarize thoughts. A precise model facilitates mutual understanding in interdisciplinary collaboration. It enables successful communication with supporters and contacts in politics, business and the media.
In one to two days of coaching in German or English, we find the right form to effectively pin down the essence of hypotheses and research results: for posters, project websites and professional publications, as well as for science communication and grant applications.
Representing a complex, abstract topic in a linear text is hard enough. It is even harder to convey the topic interdisciplinarily. Careful work on the concrete presentation pays off: An intelligent model compresses multi-dimensional topics in a multi-layered way. It facilitates and inspires cooperation.
Also, in presentations of the research institute it helps to convey science clearly. Even abstract topics become accessible to non-experts and to the interested public.
Poster presentations for lectures, congresses and open days as well as project websites or strategy presentations of the institute
Doctoral programs to refine research approaches
Transferable skills training to encourage transdisciplinary researchers through shared thinking models
In the workshops and coaching sessions, we design concise visualizations, posters and research websites that carefully balance content accuracy, comprehensibility and perceptual-psychological aspects of design. The goal is their use as:
Memorable model for conveying abstract topics
Thematic „map“ as a guide for your own lecture
Prototypical thesis model for critical-constructive reflection
A memorable model remains in the minds of the audience even after a variety of presentations. During the lecture, the schematic presentation of the central aspects serves as a „map“ for the lecture. During the coffee break, listeners can explore details on the poster or use it as a starting point for discussions.
The scientific „modeling“ with graphical parameters, concepts and texts does not only represent the research work: To design means to structure and reflect, which often leads to further hypotheses.
Visualization translates the content from verbal grammar into visual language: Almost automatically, the visual logic opens up new perspectives on the subject.
The workshop provides a basic understanding of the meaningful use of graphical variables and the psychology of Gestalt laws. This enables the participants to design and clarify models of thinking and to gain new perspectives on their hypotheses through the formation of variants.
For an institution associated with the exclusive and original, free online access to its collection may seem like a threat. However, even museums have caught on to the opportunities digitalisation affords.
It’s no longer a question of “if” but rather “how.” In particular: How do we engage visitors who are ever-increasingly ‘users’? The impact these individuals can have on an institution’s international reputation should not be underestimated.
Along with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, we unpacked how an excellent collection can expand its legacy in the digital realm. To play off the high standards in education and mediation, we are sounding out individual approaches and various content formats for presenting the collection.
We exploit the new and future digital possibilities to best serve the complexity of our expanding knowledge pool. We consciously opt for formats that make the messages presentable, regardless of their complexity.From the Kunstsammlung NRW’s digital strategy
Drawing on background research about museums in the Anglo-Saxon world and our understanding of culture and workflows in German museums, we teamed up with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen to develop a digital strategy. Our goal: To formulate a strategy that encompasses the increasing demands for user-friendly services with an impressive interface.
In short: It’s not about designing a “new website”. It’s about designing digital services.
‘Anti White Cube’ is the future of museums: International research is starting to recognise that artworks are nodes in a complex web of untold stories
The German Federal Cultural Foundation selected the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen and Berlin’s National Gallery for an ambitious research project: “Museum Global” will highlight several new thematic, historical and political perspectives on artists and artworks. Plural designed diverse scenarios for how artworks can be contextualised.