Over 100 excited students and faculty members gathered at the Hanes Art Center last night to hear from the organization’s latest visiting artist – who also happens to be a UNC alumnus.
Graphic designer and Princeton University professor David Reinfurt discussed his large body of work over the past two decades, citing specifically his pieces now on display at Hanes Art Center.
Graduating from UNC after pursuing interests in graphic design, architecture, computer science and journalism, Reinfurt says his eclectic background has dramatically influenced his work.
“I’ve spent time dipping my fingers into many different pots,” he said in the lecture.
Reinfurt began the presentation by recounting major moments of his career, telling the audience that his first piece of graphic design work was the logo for the UNC Staff Recreation Association, also known as The Farm.
“I designed the logo for The Farm in 1992, the year before I graduated,” he said. “I grew up there and my family were members, so it’s cool to look back and see my original design.”
Since beginning his career, Reinfurt has worked on numerous projects in the New York City and New Jersey area.
Whether developing the touch interface design of NYC metro card machines, or helping repurpose Long Island City signs to give the area a new artistic identity, Reinfurt’s exhibited work focuses on underscoring already existing pieces of art and technology – often in ways meant to be ignored entirely by those seeing it.
“It’s an idea I love. You can really take very seriously something that’s by nature meant to disappear,” Reinfurt said. "It can seem kind of derogatory to say something looks like a screensaver, so I thought that'd be an interesting thing to work with."
Reinfurt said his work centers heavily on exploring the ambient, or passive elements of design as a way of creating something uniquely below the surface.
“He explores so many small things you wouldn’t normally think about” said senior History major Andrew Dinwiddie. “Most people would never think about who designed these things, but when you’re working that small, every detail seems super important.”
Before beginning teaching at Princeton in 2010, Reinfurt held teaching positions at both Yale and Columbia University. To date, he has several graphic design pieces on permanent display at museums such as the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Modern Art.
“I was just struck by so much of it,” said Maggie Sparling, 2014 Management and Society graduate. “There’s just graphic design everywhere. Like even an exit sign, someone designed that. That’s incredible.”
Reinfurt’s said his work also greatly utilizes obsolete technology and design as a way of questioning whether it is always better to move on as a culture.
“When you get into the specifics, at some point it’s really a kind of engineering,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s not traditional graphic design. It’s like the program he’s created is the performer.”
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