Graphic Design

Everlasting Steel

Susanne Janssen
Project Material Experiment
Major Graphic Design
Year Third Year

Third year graphic design students each investigated a material of own choice during the tenth quarter. Through in-depth research and experiments they dissected material and transformed it into a new being.

We mostly come across steel in the form of bridges, buildings and other constructions, this material is known for its strength and durability. In my research into steel I focused on how could I alter this everlasting material, could I make it soft, more fragile, or maybe even give it a human quality?

I found it amazing how heating can affect the colour of steel. Welding the steel to small pieces makes the material look almost archaic, as if dug up from the ground, while heating up to 300 degrees Celsius makes it turn futuristic blue.

I discovered, by bringing changes to the surface of the material - sanding or scratching, that the interplay between light and reflection gives unexpected, almost lenticular effects. Taking into consideration that this material can last a lifetime because of its strength, I wondered would it be possible to design a tool able to write in steel using this sanding technique?

If steel has an everlasting quality, the messages created in the material could be considered eternal as well. I have upgraded a Stepcraft CNC-milling machine with sanding paper and experimented with readability of various shapes and font sizes  in the material.

The discipline of graphic design is in a constant state of flux

Since the discipline of graphic design is in a state of flux and continues to raise lots of questions - now being more interdisciplinary than ever - I have deliberately decided to preserve some elements of graphic design that I personally consider essential. I have created a manifest consisting of four different statements to remember while reforming the material of steel to give it a new purpose in the field of graphic design. A way to preserve a message, something that must be remembered for eternity.


Manifest statements:

The discipline of graphic design is in a constant state of flux. - Jan, 2018.

  • Remember to use the contemporary visual culture to reflect on our times
  • Remember to experiment with your material endlessy
  • Remember to question the current generation and inspire the next
  • Remember to create when lost in questions

Find more information about this project, research and process here.

View Susanne's other projects here