The very first line of Adrian Shaughnessy’s new collection of essays reads: “Why would anyone want to read about graphic design?” It’s a bullish opening gambit to introduce 400 pages of graphic design writing, but of course the answer is fairly obvious – when it’s this darn good. Scratching the Surface is the latest release from the Unit Editions publishers and brings together articles from the past 18 years split up into sections including profiles, education, music and reviews as well as graphic design and illustration.
From pieces on Vaughan Oliver and Neville Brody to The Apprentice and the Royal Family, Adrian’s trademark sharp, erudite and witty style is present on every page and it’s not hard to see why he is widely considered one of the best design writers working today. His pieces are constructed in a way both designers and civilians can enjoy and engage with, reflecting his ongoing battle against the ghettoisation of the craft. It’s also – as one would expect – very well-designed with liberal use of hot pink and a good image section to contextualise some of his thoughts.