Archive for the ‘Design Theory’ Category

Doubt ’til Thou Canst Doubt No More.
- Albert Guerard

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Illustrated by Gary Taxali, this little book provides a compact vehicle for TAXI’s creative manifestos and is a source of both entertainment and inspiration. Doubt has long been an influential concept at the company’s core, and indeed shapes their philosophy: “Doubt the conventional. Create the exceptional.”


Although he lives in a world where he is shunned by pop song lyricists, house cats, big-box shoppers, classic rock radio programmers, grandmothers, and all left-brain thinkers, Doubt continues to throw dynamite at history and use his outlaw thinking to move us all forward. Some love him. Others hate him. But nobody ignores him.

The book presents 12 insights into how to use doubt as a catalyst for change. These insights are delivered by a cocky little character called Doubt.

Doubt’s teachings are supported by 38 contemporary Disciples of Doubt whose stories attest to the power of unconventional thinking to bring about positive change, and range from classic game changers like the Sony Walkman and Fuzzy Logic to less-heralded discoveries like Y-Chromosomal Adam and the Intensive Care Checklist. (2010: TAXI; ISBN 0986741809)

Each: $21.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

The Typographic Grid: Essential Framework or Elegant Prison?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The layout grid, in its modern conception, has its origins with a group of Swiss graphic designers and educators working in the early postwar era. Ironically, while the grid was intended to create a modern system of layout flexible enough to accommodate type and image together, and to organize more complex textual hierarchies, it is firmly grounded in the structure and limitations of metal type composition. It could be argued that the enduring success of the ‘International Typographic Style’, as the methods of the Zürich and Basel Schools came to be known, has as much to do with the conventionalized visual vocabulary the typographic grid has imposed on Twentieth-Century publication design as with any inherent superiority of the approach.

In common with another mainstay of the International Typographic Style, the typeface Helvetica, the popularity of the grid approach has followed something of a typical pendulum motion, wherein a once-revolutionary idea becomes mainstream, spawns a backlash, only to be rediscovered by a new generation and readopted with uncritical reverence. For anyone who has been working as a graphic designer for more than a decade, the grid carries unfortunate associations with corporate culture – the graphic equivalent to the ubiquitous office cubicle. And as such, the sight of a psychedelic rave poster that appears to have been designed by Max Bill is simultaneously amusing and vaguely disturbing.

Grid Systems in Graphic Design / Raster Systeme für die Visuele Gestaltung, 4th Edition
? 1961 (1996): Josef Müller-Brockmann

Originally published in 1961, this seminal work on the subject, by the renowned Swiss graphic designer and professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zürich, covers the process of grid development and the application of grids in modern publication design. A Bibliographic 100 title. (1996: Verlag Niggli; ISBN 9783721201451)

$99.95

The Typographic Grid
? 2000: Hans Rudolf Bosshard

Published in 2000, also by Swiss publisher Verlag Niggli, Brosshard’s sophisticated treatment can be considered a follow-up to Josef Müller-Brockmann’s Grid Systems and is, in many ways, the (obsessive compulsive) last word on the subject. Bosshard, also a professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule and a contemporary of Müller-Brockmann, looks at increasingly complex grids, discusses the limits of the system, and analyses a variety of salient examples from the International Style cannon. (2000: Verlag Niggli; ISBN 3721203402)

$129.95

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Typographie: A Manual of Design, 7th Edition
? 1967 (2001): Emil Ruder

Originally published in 1967 and now in its sixth edition, this classic textbook of the new typography is based on the curriculum that Ruder developed as head of the departments of typography and graphic design at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basel (posts subsequently held by Armin Hofmann and Wolfgang Weingart). This edition features an introduction by Ruder’s like-minded friend Adrian Frutiger. (2001: Verlag Niggli; ISBN 978372120043)

$129.95

For a thorough look at the origins and influence of Swiss graphic design in the Ruder, Hofmann, Müller-Brockmann era, see: Swiss Graphic Design: The Origins and Growth of an International Style, 1920-1965 by Richard Hollis, available, not surprisingly, at Swipe, for $62.95. (2006: Yale Art; ISBN 0300106769)

The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newpapers, Magazines, and Books
? 1978: Allen Hurlburt

Published more than 30 years ago, this is the first and most orthodox English-language introduction to the grid as a publication design tool, and has served as the standard (hopelessly overpriced) textbook for several generations of graphic designers. (1978: John Wiley; ISBN 9780471289234)

$89.95

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Designer and the Grid
? 2005: Julia Thrift & Lucienne Roberts

One of the first post-Macintosh reassessments of the grid, The Designer and the Grid examines the work of several leading (at the time) contemporary graphic designers, including Simon Esterson, Vaughan Oliver and Ellen Upton, to explore its renewed relevance in the digital era. (2005: RotoVision; ISBN 2880468140)

$41.95

Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop
? 2005: Timothy Samara

This very popular title uses case studies to explore the potential and limits of grid-based design. Projects are arranged according to function and structure, and the featured designers provide commentary on their rationale and design processes. (2005: Rockport; ISBN 1592531253)

$34.95

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Layout Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Using Grids
? 2009: Beth Tondreau

A relatively simplified introduction to grid layout, this practical guide identifies 100 typographic and layout variables, from typeface selection to optimum leading and optimum measure, that contribute to the success of most grid-based projects. (2009: Rockport Publishers; ISBN 9781592534722)

$43.95

Basics Design 07: Grids
? 2008: Gavin Ambrose & Paul Harris

An accessible, highly visual introduction, this seventh volume in the admirable Design Basics series focuses on ordering the page or screen through the effective use of the grid. (2008: AVA Publishing; ISBN 9782940373772)

$34.95

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Geometry of Design: Studies in Proportion and Composition
? 2001: Kimberly Elam

Using a clever and attractive system of vellum overlays, Geometry of Design illustrates a range of classic and modern proportioning systems and demonstrates their application in modern graphic design, industrial design and architecture. (2001: Princeton Architectural Press; ISBN 1568982496)

Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type
? 2004: Kimberly Elam

With Grid Systems, Elam again uses transparent overlays to make visible the hidden structures of a series of modern graphic layouts. This intuitive form of presentation makes the grid system immediately comprehensible, making this an excellent companion to a more detailed textbook treatment. (2004: Princeton Architectural Press; ISBN 1568984650)

Typographic Systems, Rules for Organizing Type
? 2007: Kimberly Elam

Typographic Systems goes beyond the Basel School grid to explore a variety of alternative, rule-based, typographic layout systems (i.e., random, radial, modular or bilateral). In common with Elam’s previous books, this study is disappointingly brief; however, it is currently the only presentation of these ideas that we have to offer and, as such, is essential student reading. (2007: Princeton Architectural Press; ISBN 1568986874)

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Grid Index, Includes CD-Rom
? 2009: Carsten Nicolai

Not strictly a ‘grid systems’ book, Grid Index attempts to codify the range of possible two-dimensional patterns, from the humble square grid to the most complex irregular and unpredictable lattice. Similar to the out-of-print and highly sought-after Neubau Modul, the book features an accompanying CD-Rom containing all of the catalogued patterns as editable vector graphic files free for use in your own layouts. (2009: Die Gestalten Verlag; ISBN 9783899552416)

$74.95

The Grid Book
? 2009: Hannah B. Higgins

For those looking to find deeper meaning in the utilitarian grid, Higgins examines the cultural significance of 10 historical antecedents to this Modernist mainstay. This is a highbrow celebration of the best of the square and the repeating: the brick, the tablet, the gridiron city plan, the map, musical notation, the ledger, the screen, moveable type, the manufactured box and the net. (2009: MIT Press; ISBN 9780262512404)

$34.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

Do Gooder

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

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Do Good Design: How Designers Can Change the World
? 2008: David B. Berman cdnmapleleaf

As ethics chair for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, David Berman was responsible for the develpement of the RGD and GDC code of ethics, now used by Icograda as a template for national graphic design organizations worldwide. In Do Good Design Berman goes beyond conventional design ethics, taking to task a profession that, too often, is paid to create deceptive or exploitative images in support of a highly destructive form of consumerism based on invented needs. “Overconsumption,” he writes, “is fueled most powerfully by clever visual arguments to convince everyone (including larger, growing Developing World populations) to consume more and more. Our impact as designers and as consumers of design is huge. We should be held responsible”.

The great American industrial designer Raymond Loewy famously refused only one job in his career: that of creating a more lethal anti-personnel hand-grenade for the American military. Berman could rightly be accused of overestimating designers’ influence in the battle between global consumerism and more humane values. Yet, while designers didn’t start the war, there is no denying that they often do help make the “weapons of mass deception” more lethal. Designers are not defense lawyers, they are not obliged to defend their clients’ malevolent actions, indeed they are ethically bound to refuse to do so (and even defense lawyers are legally prohibited from knowingly lying). Designers must not excuse their involvement in the creation of damaging messages by hiding behind the design brief. Rather Berman demands that they be guided by the overwhelming contemporary imperative to do good. (2008: Peachpit Press; ISBN 9780321573209)

$26.99

Watch here for news of a possible upcoming Toronto panel-discussion featuring Mr. Beman. In the meantime, listen to the a pair of interviews with the author, the first is Author Talk with Peachpit Press publisher Nancy Aldrich-Ruenze, about the book itself:

[audio:http://www.swipe.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/david_berman.mp3|titles=Author Talk with David Berman] the second, about the democratization of design, is from CBC Radio’s All In A Day with Adrien Harewood:

[audio:http://www.swipe.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/bermaninterviewcbc.mp3|titles=David Berman on CBC Radio]

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.

Design as Civil Virtue: Fukasawa / Hara / Morrison

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Designing Design

? 2007: Kenya Hara with Jasper Morrison, John Maeda & Naoto Fukasawa

Hara first came to international attention as the designer of opening ceremonies for the Nagano Winter Olympic Games in 1998, but it is in his role as design director for MUJI that he has put his indelible stamp on contemporary design culture. In addition to being a fascinating study of one man’s philosophical and ethical approach to design, this is one of the most lovely books ever to grace our shelves. (2007: Lars Müller Publishers; ISBN 9783037781050)

Naoto Fukasawa

? 2007: Naoto Fukasawa with Antony Gormley & Jasper Morrison

Naoto Fukasawa is undoubtedly the leading figure in product design in Japan. His associations with Muji, PLUS MINUS ZERO and Issey Miyaki have been particularly productive. Edited by Fukasawa himself, this is the first monograph published in English of the work of this innovative designer. (2007: Phaidon; ISBN 9780714845869)

Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary

? 2007: Naoto Fukasawa & Jasper Morrison

Fukasawa and Morrison select 204 everyday objects in an attempt create a new design canon which they define as “super normal design”: design that transcends time and national culture forming an eternal repository of beauty and utility. (2007: Lars Müller Publishers; ISBN 9783037781067)

Designing Design: $63.50
Naoto Fukasawa: $79.95
Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary: $39.95

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To purchase any of the products or titles mentioned here, please visit our downtown Toronto location, call us toll-free at 1-800-56-swipe or e-mail us at: info@swipe.com.