As co-founder of London-based studio 8vo, co-editor of Octavo, International Journal of Typography for all of its eight year-long life and now one half of typographic powerhouse MuirMcNeil, you’d imagine that Hamish Muir has built up a fairly comprehensive collection of design and typography-based publications over the 30 odd years he’s been working. Fortunately for you, we’ve done the legwork and gotten cold hard proof of it in the form of photographs of his top five, and it’s even better than we imagined.
Between reflections on Paul Klee’s notebooks, memories of working for Wim Crouwel and an anecdote about studying with Weingart, it’s something like a recipe book for how to create a perfectly-rounded creative mind. Aspiring designers and typography fans, get yer notebooks out! And an added bonus, MuirMcNeil have just released four new typesystems, which you can admire over here.
Wim Crouwel: Mode en Module
A classic for designers – all in Dutch so it’s just the pictures that count. Thankfully this marvellous book was published a few years after 8vo completed their five-year commission as designers for the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam during Crouwel’s tenure there as director. We knew his work at the time but not in great depth. Working for Wim was a pleasure, but it might have been different in our minds had we realised the true importance of his work; it’s all here in this book – the good, the great and the sublime. Way ahead of its time, indeed out of time altogether.
Bruno Monguzzi: Lo Studio Boggeri: 1933-1981
Compiled and designed by Bruno Monguzzi, one of my favourite designers, this beautiful book from Editions Electa is primarily a visual survey of graphic and advertising design from the remarkable and pioneering Studio Boggeri which was founded in Milan in 1933 by Antonio Boggeri. Among the roll-call of designers who were part of the studio are: Max Huber, Carlo Vivarelli, Walter Ballmer, Franco Grignani, Bob Noorda, Aldo Calabresi and Bruno Monguzzi. There are connections to be found everywhere in the book – it’s like a non-nerdy “rock family tree” that throws sharp light on the often overlooked but important influence of Italian and Swiss-Italian graphic designers on the “Swiss” style.
Helmut Schmid: Typography Today
Designed and edited by Helmut Schmid and first released in 1980 by the publishers of IDEA magazine, Schmid’s selections for this book are fascinating and diverse. It is all the better for not attempting the encyclopaedic; as an overview of important developments in typography throughout the 20th Century it offers an unusual perspective which makes it an excellent teaching aid – students are usually unfamiliar with most of the work in the book. Seeing something for the first time can have a profound influence on one’s visual education.
Wolfgang Weingart: Typography
I was fortunate to study at the Basel School of Design with Weingart in 1980-81, and type classes were held in the workshop where he made his own work. It was fascinating to see his projects in various stages of development. This book, part autobiographical, part catalogue raisonné, provides a detailed account of Weingart’s approach to typographic design as it developed from on-press experiments with letterform and shape to the development of his iconic photo-mechanical film layering techniques. The latter represents a high point in the development of graphic design – the integration of type and image, and type as image, reach new levels in Weingart’s extra-dimensional poster work.
Paul Klee Notebooks: Volume #1, The thinking eye
Based on Klee’s lecture notes and articles from his time teaching at the Bauhaus, The thinking eye, along with the second volume of the notebooks The nature of nature, provide around a thousand pages of analytical insights into the use of line, point, composition and colour in the generation of visual form. For the content alone these two books would have to be my “desert island” choices. But there’s more – as objects they have a quality which is in appropriate balance with the content. I bought my copies in 1979 shortly after the English edition was reprinted by Lund Humphries (original publication 1961).
The design is perfectly judged – minimal and without fuss but not at all rigid. Text, line drawings and half-tones are printed letterpress; there are occasional fold-out and tracing paper inserts; colour reproductions are litho-printed and tipped-in. The amount of handwork in the finishing process is staggering. The cover price was £15 per volume. Books were real books back then.
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