2015-06-10 17.59.46

Abbott Miller: Design and Content

The recent monograph, Abbott Miller: Design and Content, provides a wealth of evidence for seeing Miller as one of today’s exemplary designers. In my view, this is not for any set of particular projects or for any distinctive Miller style, but for the way he has oriented himself within the design field. I see this orientation as having four parts, based on this book and on some of his previous writing, especially his pioneering Design/Writing/Research: Writing on Graphic Design (1996...

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Design Transitions – author interview

With its obsession with creating the new and improving the old, design is naturally a field that is in constant flux. In the past decade, design has been grappling with its identity somewhat. Whilst traditional skills are still important, increasingly sub- or über-disciplines such as design thinking, service design and strategic design have marked a significant shift in the roles designers and their clients and partners play on projects. Design Transitions documents this flux, by...

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A Logo for London

Review by Paul A. Ranogajec London Transport’s logo—known as the roundel, circle and bar, or bulls-eye—easily counts as one of the most successful graphic designs of all time. It has been a constant and increasingly ubiquitous feature of London’s streetscape for over a century. In his book, A Logo for London, David Lawrence describes the logo as “exemplary for its clarity and consistency, and for being universally recognizable.” He reveals how the...

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The Book of Trees

Review by Rebecca Kohn In the preface to The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge, author Manuel Lima says that he “could never find a wide-ranging book dedicated to the tree as one of the most popular, captivating, and widespread visual archetypes,” citing this as his motivation to create this book. Lima provides an introduction that discusses some examples of trees in art before moving on to a timeline of what he considers significant characters in the development of...

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Out of the Blue

Review by Paul A. Ranogajec Everything that may be conjured in your mind by the phrase “Finnish design” is likely to be represented one way or another in Out of the Blue, a collection of biographical vignettes and interviews by Marko Ahtisaari and Laura Houseley. Through its short profiles, the reader is offered insight into what a broad selection of contemporary Finnish designers—and a handful of their famous predecessors including Alvar Aalto, Kaj Franck, and Tapio...

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Philip Grushkin: A Designer’s Archive

Review by Sophia Angelis Philip Grushkin, the long-forgotten but latterly-celebrated book jacket designer, was born to Jewish-Russian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, in 1921. Trained at the Cooper Union, Grushkin studied calligraphy and lettering under the great George Salter before going on to design jackets for many of New York’s leading publishing houses. His designs dressed the covers of some of America’s most important mid-century titles: The Second Sex, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...

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Ken Garland: Structure and Substance—review and interview

The smell of Cow Gum rubber cement and the fascination of stacked Letraset trays form a large part of my childhood memories of afternoons spent at my father’s graphic design and advertising agency. The bookshelves were also a place of wonder for me. I would leaf through Graphis annuals, reference books and other monographs and frequently come across the work of Ken Garland. Of course, I did not know his name back then, but reading through Ken Garland: Structure and Substance from Unit...

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Design Anthropology: object culture in the 21st century

Design Anthropology: object culture in the 21st century, edited by Alison J. Clarke Publisher: Springer, Vienna, 2011. Review by Maria Blyzinsky ‘This book describes a seismic shift in the way experts and users conceptualize, envisage, and engage in object culture.’ Lofty claims like this always catch my eye because I’m in the business of trying to understand material culture. I work in museums and my curiosity regarding objects is twofold: as something to collect...

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An interview with Andrew Shea on Designing for Social Change

Identified as a “place to start” by renowned designer and social entrepreneur, William Drenttel, Designing for Social Change by Andrew Shea, is an insightful guidebook and designer’s co-pilot containing a compilation of case studies that illustrate project concepts, funding resources, processes, strategies, and outcomes. It is a go-to resource for any designer interested or engaged in community-based work. A first-of-its-kind, Designing for Social Change is marked by ten strategies, an...

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The journey of larks, Life and Punctuation..?

I have been delaying reviewing User Design’s – aka Thomas Bohm’s – series of self-published illustrated books, The journey of larks, Life and Punctuation..?. Partly this has been a lack of time, but partly it is because I’m not quite sure where to situate them. I’ll take each book in turn: The journey of larks (Click to enlarge) The journey of larks is a play on collective nouns: “a failing of students,” “a snooze of lectures,” “an...

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