Burble to Beeke: LED-balloon sculptures!

The ‘Burble’ is the name of a sculpture consisting of over a thousand helium balloons, designed by ‘Haque Design + Research’. They are specialised ‘in the design and research of interactive architecture systems’. The slowly swaying Burbles are a sight to behold. Filled with LED’s they ooze spectacular colour patterns in the sky. Continue reading

‘What makes Paris look like Paris’

‘What makes Paris look like Paris’? This is something that semiotics specialist Martin Krampen (1928-) would have loved to know. I got interest in his work because of his involvement with the development of pictograms world wide. While researching this I came across his book Meaning in the Urban Environment published in 1977. Parts of it try to analyse building types by quantifying elements of city buildings. Continue reading

Cassandre posters in Scorces’s ‘Hugo’


The centerpiece of Scorceses movie ‘Hugo’ is the station resembling the Gare du Nord. It has a remarkable amount of advertising posters on display. Many of them are by the famous French poster artist Cassandre (1901-1968).

I counted at least eleven of Cassandre. This must have made his heirs –who vigorously retain his copyrights–happy campers. In reality it is doubtful a similar display would have been found outside poster-exbitions in those days. If only for the dates of the posters that all fall in the 1927-1932 range.



When the camera first enters the station hall one sees on the left a variation on Cassandre’s Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis (1932), and above the stairs in the back the famous Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet (1932) series advertising liquor. Most prominently on the left side Triplex (1930) with the driver behind safety glass.

A few scenes later also also Sools (1929) for hats and Unic (1932) for men shoes can be discerned in the hall. Specially highlighted at a certain moment is one of Cassandres other more famous posters, Nord Express (1927), celebrating a cubist machine aesthetic.


The hallway connecting the platform hall uses two posters that in their muted coloring look a lot like murals. On the left side is a depiction of a large study Cassandre made, probably for Galeries Lafayettes, that was never published. It is beautifully shown when Hugo is creeping out of the wall during the movie.

If he would have looked forward he would have seen the flower stand. Above it the advertisement for the magazine VU, a French predecessor of Life magazine, highlighted when inspector Gustave looks at the flowergirl.
Taking in mind the them of the poster, love at first sight!



Another fine ensemble of Cassandre”s posters is shown when Hugo escapes from inspector Gustave by running through the whole length of one the platforms and flying up a ladder. On the platform five Cassandre posters: Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis (1932), SAGA (1927), Chemin de Fer du Nord (1929), L’ Oiseau Blue (1929) and Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet (1932).



The newspaper stand owner has at his side Cora Madou (1929)–a famous singer in those days–from Paul Colin. In the hall is the Twining poster advertising tea from Charles Loupot. When Hugo creeps out of the wall to tiptoe to Méliès’ toy-stand we see in the hallway around the corner, a carefully framed Au Bon Marché (1929) from Jean Carlu. Rather symbolically it features a happy servant with toys and at his feet a little girl. These three poster artists–Colin, Loupot and Carlu–were, together with Cassandre known as the ‘four musketeers’, a testament to their importance in the nineteen twenties and thirties.



As for the other posters. The most remarkable ones are the those on the wall of the cinema Hugo visits. Beautiful film posters that immidiately convey a more american flavor (any movieposter specialists here?). In the remainder of the movie there are at least 10 other posters which I haven’t been able to identify. All in all a remarkable collection. Where is the missing movie companion for this collection?


  • Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet 1932
    Triplex 1930
    Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis 1932
    Sools 1929
    Unic 1932
    Nord Express 1927
    Vu 1928
    Poster design Galeries Lafayette 1928
    Grande Quinzaine Internationale de Lawn-Tennis 1932
    SAGA 1927
    Chemin de Fer du Nord 1929
    L’ Oiseau Blue 1929
    Dubo, Dubon, Dubonnet 1932
    Twining (Charles Loupot) 1930
    Au bon Marche, Carlu
    Cora Madou, Paul Colin, 1929
    Exposition Coloniale Internationale 1931
  • Piet Zwart documentary falters

    Last year ‘Everything must change’ was released in the Netherlands, a documentary dedicated to designer Piet Zwart (1885-1977). In 2000 he was chosen by the Dutch Design Association (BNO) as the most influential Dutch designer of the 20th century. As to why this is the case, does not become clear from the documentary. Continue reading

    Watch during dinner : Philippe Starck judging students

    Starck and one of the English students in ‘Design for Life’

    Starck and one of the English students in ‘Design for Life’

    I thienk you aaare a lietel lazy, Philippe Starck says to a British design student, priceless! How could I have missed the ‘Design for Life’ series, broadcasted by the BBC in 2009? Watching this I cannot not imagine that Starck designs his accent! Starck: ‘Wee aar notte artiestes, we must be proude to jeust make sjairs’. Continue reading

    Lecture ‘Picto History’ for St. Joost : The designer of the Munich ’72 pictograms

    Gerhard Joksch tells how he designed the sports pictograms for the Munich Olympics in an interview with dr. Bakker

    Gerhard Joksch tells how he designed the sports pictograms for the Munich Olympics in an interview with dr. Bakker

    April 9th I will give a lecture about pictogram history at AKV|St. Joost / Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. It is a part of an afternoon organised by the Research Group Visual Rhetoric of which I am a member, and is dedicated to visual information design. Also dataviz agency CleverFranke and the infographics agency Schwandt Infographics will be giving lectures.  Continue reading