Prima Vista. Über das Zeichnen

“Prima Vista. Über das Zeichnen” presents drawings by Andreas Seltzer and—in an insightful collection of polished vignettes and anecdotes—his writing about drawing. This handsomely designed catalog was published on the occasion of the artist’s exhibition of the same name, which took place at the Laura Mars Gallery in Berlin.

Andreas Seltzer’s drawings are grotesques that alternate between caricature and black humor, between horror and magical enchantment, between Mannerism and carnivalesque inventions. The colors black, red, and white form the basis of this work. This reduced choice of colors is motivated by the intention to increase the effect of the pictures through economy of means. Black functions as an arsenal that has all possible weights in store to lend—depending on the motif—gravity or sketchy lightness to the pictures. Red, on the other hand, plays the traditional role of the eye-catching signal that provides orientation in the genre of hidden object pictures. White, in the form of outline-like, splinter-like, meticulously captured figurations, is used to show views from above as well as vistas: against densely checkered backgrounds, these elements become actors that make those other parts of the picture dance.

 

Translated excerpt from “Prima Vista”:

Drawing, Dancing

From the perspective of the fingers holding the drawing pen, the area to be conquered is a vast white terrain full of potential risks. Moving the pen means striving forward while being aware that any lingering results in dark, puzzling spots. Dots and strokes form a team that finds its goal somewhere on the horizon of the playing field while challenging the format. The special thing about these movements is that they are more similar to dancing than, for example, walking is. The rhythm of drawing circles and semicircles, swinging back and forth, securing the sidelines, repeating and varying spontaneous moves and improvised patterns—all this results in flowing lineaments that are nothing but control elements seeking to guarantee step by step, inch by inch the sure-footedness of the endeavor.

Drawing, Remembering

To the extent that drawing, associative drawing, has become the main activity, words lose their power, writing loses its force. Perhaps this activity is some form of memory training with the result that one remembers the visual aspects of things but—now familiar with their metamorphic nature and skeptical of the predeterminations of language—forgets names and terms. Thus, a new variant of dementia might appear: the specter of a babbling, picture-crazy idiot who points to his scribbles while sinking into aphasia.

Drinking and Drawing

In the evening, a glass of wine sometimes happens to be placed next to the inkpot. Then, the temptation arises to portray one of those cartoonists struggling for inspiration and tortured by deadlines, as depicted countless times by Robert Crumb as a self-portrait—cartoonists downing ink: their final act of desperation. Ink is in this case an imagination-enhancing substance, impregnating all internal organs, coloring blood, sweat, and tears, and transforming the whole body into a drawing instrument.

“Ink is my natural element. A beautiful liquid, by the way, this dark liquid. And it is dangerous! How you can drown in it! And how it attracts you!” (Gustave Flaubert)

Tannhäuser Tor II

The catalog “Tannhäuser Tor II” (Tannhauser Gate II), edited by Daniel H. Wild, documents the development of the work cycle of the same name begun by the artists Alekos Hofstetter and Florian Göpfert in 2012. Conceptually, it follows the first catalog on this topic, which was published in 2013, also by FANTÔME.

The theme of the group of works titled “Tannhäuser Tor” is the relationship between space, time, and distance; and the focus is on examining the changing perspectives on post-war modernism and its architecture. The disappearance of modernism from our surroundings has consequences. Through this disappearance, modernism’s former utopian promise, or rather, the memory that is left of this promise, is dissolving. In the drawings and paintings, some of which were created together with Dresden artist Florian Göpfert, a new relationship between architecture and landscape is constructed. And in this very construction of a utopian context, or a “new home,” a distance becomes visible. The architecture that Alekos Hofstetter shows us in his works is freed from any functionality and seems to be able to exist only in a remote realm.

Reading Pictures

The catalog “Reading Pictures” is the first comprehensive examination of the work of Berlin-based Swiss artist Irène Hug. In addition to her work of the last sixteen years, it includes essays by philosopher Gernot Grube, curator and art critic Raimar Stange, and art historian Viola Vahrson.

Far from sober artworks of American minimalists or conceptual artists involving written language, Irène Hug confronts us with her messages in glaring neon signs, objects, installations, and photographs. Hug utilises and manipulates the typographic components of signposts, logos, and advertising slogans that cover urban spaces worldwide. Using techniques of appropriation, montage, citation, and retouching she reacts to found materials, situations, or stereotypical images, commenting on and changing their meaning using pointed but complex artistic interventions.

With subtle wit, Irène Hug questions in “Reading Pictures” our belief in the truth of the supposedly objective world (or its representation) and our entanglement in omnipresent consumerism and challenges us to get, behind the surfaces, as it were, to the bottom of the true meaning of things and words.

Dancing in Connewitz

The book “Dancing in Connewitz” documents the attempt to bring the eclectic diversity of an archive into a sequence of images that does not strive for a photo-historical classification but rather allows a specific and subjective narration to emerge from today’s perspective.

After studying photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst Leipzig, Peter Woelck worked as a professional photographer in the GDR for various companies and magazines. Moreover, he independently created a vast amount of artistic works, especially in the field of portrait and architectural photography. Photographs of the construction of the Berlin Television Tower, cityscapes of Leipzig, and intense portraits from the 60s through the 80s document how life used to be in a country that no longer exists. On the other hand, there are photographs from the post-reunification period, during which Woelck repeatedly tried to establish himself as a freelance advertising photographer. Thus, the pictures also tell of a break in the photographer’s biography, the kind of experience that affected many people of his generation.

In “Dancing in Connewitz”, texts are contributed by Wilhelm Klotzek, Woelck’s son, who not only co-manages the estate in collaboration with the Laura Mars Gallery but also artistically deals with the legacy, by writer and publicist Peter Richter, and by curator Bettina Klein.

Beyond Design: the Game of Social Solutions

While writing the journalistic novel, ‘Beyond Design’, Renate Boere discovered 10 steps that can be taken in order to set up one’s own project. These steps allow designers to render complicated information transparent and understandable for a wider audience. Boere wanted to make this easily accessible and transformed these 10 steps into a game.

‘Beyond Design, The Game of Social Solutions’ guides you to set up your own socially relevant design project. This game navigates you through the 10 steps of setting up a project based on your idea. Or if you do not have an idea yet, the game can also be used as a valuable brainstorm tool.

Vertigo

The catalog “Vertigo” documents a journey from Berlin to Northampton and the exhibitions based on this trip. On her journey, Heike Gallmeier built temporary installations from found materials in a transporter that she converted into a mobile home and studio. On her way through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, and Great Britain, she avoided highways and major roads. Instead of choosing the shortest routes she followed rural roads and wandered through residential areas. When she arrived at her destination, the NN Contemporary Art in Northampton, she moved the contents of the van into the exhibition space, and, along with large format photographs, combined the materials found along the way to create new installations–and called it “Vertigo”.

Heike Gallmeier works across media, from sculpture to installation to photography. Found objects and other materials are gathered and assembled into large installations that then are photographed.

Claudia Skoda – Dressed to Thrill

As a pioneer and icon of Berlin’s underground culture, Claudia Skoda defined the fashion of the 1970s and 1980s. She knitted delicate yarns—having taught herself the handwork techniques—into groundbreaking, body-hugging designs that triggered a revolution in our understanding of knitwear. Superstars such as David Bowie and Iggy Pop were soon among her friends. Skoda’s performance-like fashion shows became famous: they were staged as spectacular events in the Congress Hall or the Egyptian Museum and caused an international sensation.

This comprehensive catalog “Claudia Skoda – Dressed to Thrill” is published to accompany her first solo exhibition and presents fashion, photographs, films, and music by a wide range of artists, including Martin Kippenberger, Luciano Castelli, Salomé, Jim Rakete, Ulrike Ottinger, Silke Grossmann, Manuel Göttsching, and Kraftwerk. The book not only highlights Skoda’s fashion designs, but also looks at how they were produced and marketed. In addition, it explores her living community and workshop “Fabrikneu,” her fashion shows and stores, her time in New York, as well as her social networks and her collaborations with many different artists.

– The first major compilation of Claudia Skoda’s works
– Includes a text by fashion designer Wolfgang Joop

There is an accompanying exhibition about Claudia Skoda’s Work at Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin from April 1st until July 18th, 2021.

Soap »Rosetta«

Rosetta’s natural formula is infused with petals of the Bulgarian Damascena Rose to flourish your skin and tantalise your senses. Personally kissed with unconditional love, Rosetta is embedded in a silver hot foil stamped box to adequately showcase your piece of jewellery.

Ingredients: Natural Oils, No additives, Vegan and eco-certified
Manufactured in the South of Germany

Brasilia #7 — togetherseparate

to|geth|er|sep|a|rate (to drift apart; to relate remotely); “Brasilia #7 — togetherseparate” traces collective and collaborative practices for design and living, making them the focus of attention. What happens when ingrained forms of togetherness are suspended? When algorithms, filter bubbles and right-wing conspiracy propaganda suggest proximity, but actually separate us from each other more than ever? Brasilia sheds new light on topics that move us, yet leads us to persevere in demanding flexibility from ourselves when we seek security.

Philine Dorenbusch investigates the human-made underwater noise, that endangers marine life. Khadra Farah writes about the casual racism she encounters everywhere as a black woman. In his contribution, Friedrich Weltzien assesses the everyday routines of an intellectual during the coronavirus lockdown. Nora Depner wonders how we could possibly speak with extraterrestrials when we would have to develop a message that we ourselves are not able to conceive.

The creation of “Brasilia #7 — togetherseparate” is inherent proof that »togetherseparated« forms of cooperation are possible. The texts and images compiled here will arouse longing for a return to life beyond Zoom tiles, self-isolation and discount-store purchases. And even if the Duden dictionary distinguishes between joining words together or separating them, the current crisis has reinforced our impression that, as formulated by the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, we are actually »singular plural«.

Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms

‘Feminisms’ (as a plural) is widely used today to draw attention to inequalities and to critique the status quo in limiting women’s roles/ positions/ lives/ potential. Art can offer a vision of future worlds, manifesting a desire for projecting change, playing with existing realities and conventions. “Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms”, two sides of the same coin, arise where art approaches, develops or transforms into activism and vice versa, where activisms become artivisms. In both, art emerges in differing forms of political intervention, at both an individual, shared or collective level, apparent in actions, events, identifications and practices.

This volume wants to reveal the diversity of these practices and realities. Representing a range of critical insights, perspectives and practices from artists, activists, curators, academics and writers, it explores and reflects on the enormous variety of feminist interventions in the field of contemporary art, social processes, the public sphere and politics. In doing so, “Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms” touches upon broader questions of cultural difference, history, class, economic position, ecology, politics, sexual orientation, and the ways in which these intersect.

Richly illustrated with c. 300 black and white illustrations and photos.
This is the first volume in the new PLURAL series. The series focuses on how the intersections between identity, power, representation and emancipation, play out in the arts and in cultural practices. The volumes in this series aim to do justice to the plurality of voices, experiences and perspectives in society and in the arts and to address the history and present and future meaning of these positions and their interrelations. PLURAL brings together new and critical insights from artists, arts professionals, activists, cultural and social researchers, journalists and theorists.
2020, Valiz, supported by Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Middlesex University London

Design Dedication – Adaptive Mentalities in Design Education

“Design Dedication – Adaptive Mentalities in Design Education” makes a plea for adaptive mentalities within design pedagogy, with a non-normative approach to design practices. It explores an attitude in and towards design education that is socially engaged, politically aware, generous in approach, lyrical in tone, experimental in form and collaborative in practice. How can we talk about and bring out the political that’s inherent in the work that design students are doing? How to work on specific urgencies that are rooted in experience and narration? What are the underlying values of such a pedagogy? What kind of practices are developed in the context? How can an institute support and safeguard this?

“Design Dedication – Adaptive Mentalities in Design Education” explores these approaches through statements from within and reaches out to design students, designers, artists, and teachers who are open to questioning their own practices and reformulating values in design dedication for a yet unpredictable, but surely dedicated tomorrow.

Designmagazine MUTBOARD & VOGEL #1

MUTBOARD & VOGEL is Austrias only design magazine for lovers of the extraordinary! It closes the gap–between life-style and trade-magazines for people who have a comprehensive understanding of design–knowing design has value.

Each issue shows the plurality of design as we can see and experience today.
Issue one features themes like package-design, eco-design, fashion-design, pet-architecture, smart textiles and many more.
As every issue this edition is limited to 1.000 copies–hand numbered by our art-director.

MUTBOARD & VOGEL is available in German language only.

Culture Sensitive Design: A Guide to Culture in Practice

Societies worldwide are increasingly interconnected through trade, migration, education and digitisation. This has resulted in a profound new complexity of cultural groups. Consequently, designers are confronted with the challenge of gaining a clear understanding of this cultural diversity.

Culture is a complex phenomenon defined by an ongoing process of shifts in human interactions and experiences. In addition to the functional, technical and economic requirements, it is primarily culture that defines how any designed object and service will perform and prove itself: a process that largely takes place outside the domain and control of the designer.

“Culture Sensitive Design: A Guide to Culture in Practice” provides an overview of theory as well as practical models and methods, aimed to motivate and inspire design students, practitioners and educators to get in touch with different cultural values, customs and symbols. This is in order to avoid mistakes that may be obstructive for certain groups of people; to enable cross-cultural cooperation; to learn more about the diverse and complex layers of culture that define who we are, how we think, how we imagine and how we create; and to open up the design space, thereby creating a tremendous source of new ideas.

Richly illustrated with examples of real-life situations, the book “Culture Sensitive Design: A Guide to Culture in Practice” provides everything necessary to generate optimal circumstances for the best design solutions to emerge.

Beyond Design: Making Socially Relevant Projects Successful

The time has come in which graphic designers are playing an important role in rendering ever more complicated information transparent and understandable for a wider audience. To stress this urgency, Renate Boere dove headfirst in the world of project management lingo, confidentiality statements, copyright, complicated contracts, the search for stakeholders, and grant applications. This journey resulted in the designer’s novel “Beyond Design: Making Socially Relevant Projects Successful.”

This nonfiction novel “Beyond Design: Making Socially Relevant Projects Successful” provides insights into the contemporary, often hybrid, practice of today’s multi-talented graphic designers. The story tells how Boere decides to take matters into her own hands by working on socially relevant design projects. An exciting and informative book that gives insights into the designer’s do’s and don’ts while working on projects from start to finish.

Hard Werken – One for All

“Hard Werken – One for All” is the first major publication on the experimental Rotterdam-based design studio Hard Werken [Working Hard, Travailler dur], also known for the underground magazine of the same name. Hard Werken’s anarchic design, smattering high with low culture and running contrary to typographic conventions and modernist currents of the time, characterized this group as a brash, elusive, and distinctly Rotterdam phenomenon. However, working in Rotterdam and Los Angeles, the core members Henk Elenga, Kees de Gruiter, Gerard Hadders, Tom van den Haspel, Willem Kars and Rick Vermeulen also had worldwide ambitions.

This feisty and uncompromising book examines Hard Werken’s practice and legacy in an international context and addresses their contemporary significance. It investigates the group’s pioneering role in the cultural life of Rotterdam and their impact abroad, especially the US, by examining the innovative aspects of Hard Werken’s practice, which combined graphic and fine art languages. All is elucidated by a myriad of images and clear, concise texts.

‘The 1970/80s Dutch magazine Hard Werken has all the qualities of a pop-legend. Born of the collective desire of a group of young graphic designers from industrial Rotterdam to express themselves, they quickly achieved an influential cult status, then [the magazine] died young.’
Peter Bilak in: Dot Dot Dot magazine, Issue 1, 2000
Hard Werken ‘quite deliberately has broken every rule in the handbook’ by producing ‘scattershot lay-outs, jarring mismatches of type, shrieking colours and a veneer of industrial grime which seem calculated to assault the sensibilities of more delicate colleagues.’
Rick Poynor in: Blueprint No 59, 1989

2018, Valiz with Stichting Kunstpublicaties Rotterdam | supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Jaap Harten Fonds

zur Linde

“zur Linde” is an ode to the lime tree which is deeply rooted in German culture as a place of communion and as a symbol of justice and love. Not only has it played a prominent role in village life and graveyards, but it was also a location where judicial courts were held, and frequently appeared as a motif in art and literature. In addition, aside from traditional and folkloric connotations, the iconic lime is part of everyday life–used widely as a means to bring green to cities and often serving as a landmark; it has even leant its name to a TV series.

The photographer Michael Romstöck explores the significance of the lime tree as a site of pre-Christian assemblies and in the romantic experience of nature, while also examining its ideological exploitation.
Over a period of one and a half years, Romstöck visited more than sixty places in Germany with his analog, large-format camera. He selected them either because they boast a lime that holds an important place in the country’s cultural history or are associated with the tree’s symbolism in some other way. Investigating the lime’s current status, Romstöck unites a variety of motifs, different types of images, and text fragments into an essay-like narrative: Why did earlier generations raise (natural) monuments and how can we maintain them in future? What meaning do they have today and how does this meaning change in our rapidly evolving world? What can we learn from them–and what can they tell us about ourselves?

With high-quality duotone reproductions of Romstöck’s photos.

Hometown Journal–Episode 01

The Hometown Journal is about who we are—as creatives, as humans, as citizens. It’s where we come from and where we want to be going. Hometown investigates the work of passionate creators all over the globe, as a reflection of today’s constantly evolving zeitgeist. By digging deep into the complex dynamics of modern-day systems and their functions, they hope to reach the core of each topic, and collectively discover new possibilities for change.

Rooted in film, Hometown as a Duo has always been about telling stories. In the beginning, two high school friends, Alex and Eric, produced, shot, and directed their own documentaries, as well as music videos. Those films had one thing in common, they centered around the joys, habits, and suffering of human beings. When a global pandemic hit in 2020, making films was off the table for a while. What was left was the desire to tell stories. Annoyed by the fast-paced online platforms around them they wanted to find an outlet that was real. Not a file name, but an actual, crafted piece. Hometown Journal was born.

They approached the magazine as a film project, looking at it from a wide range of perspectives. What can print do? How can we tell the story right? What is fun to look at and what creates excitement for the reader? The team of three started to look for their origin. What is Hometown? What does it mean to their creative collaborators? And what is still wrong in the world we call home? Artists were as carefully gathered as topics and the written word in itself. But also the choice of paper and different ways of printing were considered to tell a single story. Every element within the magazine is meant to tell the story of Hometown, creating a haptic guide throughout the chapters. This episode is not perfect, but it is crafted with love, it is a documentation of the process of creating in itself, and the outlet of three friends, wanting to bring joy into the world.

So what is Hometown? Hometown is for anyone who lives and breathes art, who embraces the medium, whether it be photography, illustration, music, or film. It’s meant to be a source of inspiration and to lift the curtain for those aspiring to know more. It’s for those who like to take a ten minute break from the day, and anybody who gets tired of the digital world from time to time. This one’s for you. Welcome to our Hometown.

If you like this issue, keep your eyes open: The second issue of Hometown will be out soon.

Inspired by Method: Creative Tools for the Design Process

What is inspiration? Can there be a method for finding inspiration? “Inspired by Method: Creative Tools for the Design Process” is both a guide to and a source of inspiration. Designing involves individuality and a systematic approach, which we may apply consciously or subconsciously, depending on the project. The 5D-method for inspiration, created by Alexandra Martini, is an incisive little tool that you can use in any design process. It takes away the fear of starting a new project. This method uses the following five dimensions: Formal-Aesthetic Dimension, Haptic Dimension, Production Dimension, Cultural Dimension and Interactive Dimension. It will help you analyse, experiment with and realise your ideas. The first phase of the book will get you started.
The second phase encourages you to experiment and explore some unusual paths. Classical principles, such as composition and proportion, are interwoven with contemporary manufacturing processes such as 3D printing and aspects of human-machine interaction.

For all budding creatives who are involved with design, in any way, that want to deepen their knowledge and intellectual portfolio professionally and develop their design skills further. “Inspired by Method: Creative Tools for the Design Process” provides orientation, guidance, methodology and a soft process algorithm.

Zurich Type Design. Ein Fach- und Lesebuch für alle an Schrift Interessierten

Font design is booming enormously in the “western world”. This trend was primarily triggered by new technologies from the beginning of the 1990s that enabled a scalable and mathematically accurate representation of graphic elements without a loss of quality.
There is a wide spectrum of brand-new creations for display, graphic and title fonts–a terrain which decorative graphic artists are increasingly taking over. A second group digs out old fonts, redraws them and launches them digitally.
Docents and students of Type Design study programmes in Zurich have been working on new text fonts. These post-diploma courses have focused on text fonts for printing, screens and wayfinding since they began. They are suitable for reading longer texts. Texts without extravagant and obtrusive typefaces foster a person’s capacity to imagine and think about what he or she has read.

All graduates realised a text font, and this publication shows their approved results. Some 70 font designs are presented as specimen pages. Besides that, the docents shed light on individual disciplines and reflect on important aspects of their work:
André Baldinger comments on teaching methods, attitudes and zeitgeist in type design, while Anton Studer contemplates on seeing and perceiving. Katharine Wolff emphasises “the importance of calligraphy in the digital age”. Georg Salden insists that font design is a physical process. Walter Haettenschweiler tells us about his career as one of the world’s most illustrious designers for title and display typefaces. Robin Kinross (E) uses monotype as an example to explain economic, social and technical correlations.

Further contributions by Rudolf Barmettler, Remo Caminada, Christian Flepp (E), Hans-Jürg Hunziker, Bruno Margreth, Fiona Ross (E), Mischa Senn.

• 70 new text fonts from type design courses in Zurich
• 17 cross-discipline essays on readability, the history of fonts, calligraphy, and teaching type design, etc.

Forward Magazine “DigitalEyes”

Issue No. 3 of the Forward Magazine of the Forward Festival 2020

At first, we chose this shiny cover for DIGITAL EYES simply because we thought it looked nice. It reminded us of a mirror and we are vain. After all, our eyes are glued to mirrors all day. We keep them in our pockets, we talk to them, we touch them.
Yet, we no longer want to scratch the surface of these black mirrors, we want to see what’s underneath, we want to go the core of new technologies and their use for us.
When we decided on our digital focus for this year’s festival, we did so because it is a topic that cannot be ignored. Just as much as we cannot ignore our senses–our human need to not only see but also hear, touch, smell and taste.
So this year, let’s not be intimidated by emerging technologies but interested in exploring them together. This time, let’s have it all: the digital, the analog, the information, the experience.

Including interviews with Oliviero Toscani, Jessica Walsh, Anton & Irene, Malika Favre and much more!

The Digital Shift

The Digital Shift is changing the world as we know it. Previously unimaginable technological possibilities are already in motion – or just around the corner. The rise of Artificial Intelligence will create new business models, products and services. But in order to establish a new global prosperity paradigm, the industry must finally start thinking radically from a human perspective. Artificial Intelligence must become civilized. Artificial Intelligence must complete a transition, to what we call Personal Intelligence. Whereas it is currently a tool used only by the elite, Artificial Intelligence must become a tool for everyone. As a consequence, the discipline of design will take on a prominent role in the personalisation of Artificial Intelligence. How do corporations adjust to this new personalised technology? To move corporations forward, Christian von Reventlow & Philipp Thesen, have developed series of radically new, human-centered methods and models, delivered in this fascinating book The Digital Shift.

As Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Designer at Deutsche Telekom, Von Reventlow & Thesen have analysed the societal repercussions of the increasing adoption of AI. During the past five years, the duo has shifted Deutsche Telekom from being infrastructure-led to being design-led, placing empathy and humanity at its core. By fostering one of Europe’s largest design teams, the two have gained deep understanding of how artificial intelligence works within the public domain, and how it leaves an impact on millions of users every day.

Detail in typography

An attractive, interesting layout can certainly attract and please the reader; but when the details are not good, reading requires more effort and any pleasure is short-lived. Detail in typography is a concise and close-up view of the subject – letters, words, the line, and the space around the elements – and it discusses what is essential for the legibility of the text. Yet this is more than a guide to correct typography. How is it, Hochuli asks, that text can be set perfectly and yet look insufferably dull? Answers may be found here, not least in the way the book itself has been set and produced. Jost Hochuli is a Swiss typographer, internationally renowned for his book design work. As a teacher, he has had long experience in Zurich and his home town of St. Gallen. As a writer and editor, his books include Book design in Switzerland (1993), Designing books (1996), and Jost Hochuli: Printed matter, mainly books (2002). He has edited and designed the annually published Typotron series of booklets (1983-1998) and the Editions Ostschweiz (from 2000).

Unjustified texts

Over twenty-five years of engagement, somewhere in the borderlands between journalism and the academy, Robin Kinross has written for magazines and journals, making a case for typography as a matter of fine detail and subtle judgement, whose products concern all of us, every day.

This selection of his shorter writings brings his major themes into focus: the unsung virtues of editorial and information design, the fate of Modernism in the twentieth century, the work of dissident and critical Modernist designers, the contributions of emigré designers from Europe in the English-speaking world, the virtues of a socially-oriented design approach.

He argues for a design that is of use in the world, and against the cult of design and the delusions of theory. Pieces move from patient exposition, to sharp critique, to warm appreciation. This book presents an unexpected body of writing, which stakes out fresh territory between the purely academic and the merely journalistic. The whole is an unusual and powerful contribution to the subject of typography.

“In short, a nice book to read and the perfect antidote to all those slick design books.”
Mathieu Lommen, Items

Modern Typography

Situating the birth of modern typography around 1700, when it started to be distinct from printing, Robin Kinross introduces in Modern Typography a new understanding of the subject: as something larger and more deeply rooted than a modernism of style, echoing Jürgen Habermas’s proposition that modernity is ‘a continuing project’. Starting with the early years of the Enlightenment in France and Britain, different cultures and countries successively become the focus for the discussion as they gain significance. Examining the social, technical and material contexts in which typographers operate, the argument also considers principles and explanations of practice. This essay is seminal in many ways, providing a lively and critical narrative of historical development, a springboard for further investigation, and reproductions of not-often seen items.

‘This is a book to read and reread. It is provocative, dense, opinionated, and thoroughly original. […] It deserves to become a classic.’ Alastair Johnston, Bookways