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Exercices de Style

by Raymond Queneau


January, 2010
Workshop supervisors: Yassin Baggar, Anna Haas, Linda Hintz, Matthias Hübner,
Adeline Mollard, Thibaud Thissot
Place: School of Applied Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Duration: 1 week

»... Two hours later, I meet him in the Cour de Rome, in front of the gare Saint-Lazare. He's with a friend who's saying: "You ought to get an extra button put on your overcoat." He shows him where (at the lapels) and why.«

To discover and develop variation possibilities and means of expression in editorial design, a workshop with 34 students from 3 different academic years took place in La Chaux-de Fonds at the School of Applied Arts in January 2010. The workshop was based on Raymond Queneau's book Exercices de Style from 1947 that tells a rather trivial story in 99 different kinds of style.

On monday morning every student received a note stating the title of a story (such as Metaphorically, Dream, The Rainbow, Negativities, Onomatopoeia). During the day they got further instructions from the fields of logo, typography, image and layout. At the end of the first day we had a collection of posters, photographs , illustratons and sketches dealing with the given topics and simple storytelling solutions.

On the second day, after a group discussion on the subject of books in general, every participant was handed out the full story together with with the task to develop a concept, a layout, and to realize the story within the next three days.

Fascinating concepts in terms of content and design came up, even if not necessarily every realization was able to convey the concept. Until friday a collection of surprisingly different works accrued, taking into account that they all in the end illustrated the same story. After a short discussion, the students worked out an order to combine the individual stories in one book. Three books were bound as catalogues and were presented in the evening together with a documentation about this one week of work.