Over the past century, Swiss designers have excelled in the graphic arts, creating memorable posters, signage, advertising, and books—of which this anthology is a shining exemplar. Helvetica has achieved international acceptance in logos for American Airlines, Knoll, Letraset, Panasonic and other corporations—and the font was named for its country of origin. Though globalization has begun to erode national characteristics, the Swiss tradition of crisp, lucid, and inventive graphic design continues to flourish.
Entries in Graphic Design (3)
Esther McCoy summarized the importance of Arts & Architecture: "A magazine as flat as a tortilla and sleek as a Bugatti...became the greatest force in the dissemination of information, architectural and cultural, about California." East Coast publications largely ignored the best of the West. Arts & Architecture gave generous coverage to regional modernists, but also featured houses by Marcel Breuer, Paul Rudolph, Harry Seidler, and Oscar Niemeyer. Editor John Entenza had his blind spots, scanting the originality of Schindler and Lautner in favor of orthogonal orthodoxy. But he was far ahead of public taste and most of the profession, and his genius was to win converts to modernism, and plant a seed that would keep blooming. The Case Study house is still a viable model.
By Michael Webb
The Book of Books: 500 Years of Graphic Innovation. Edited by Mathieu Lommen. Thames & Hudson, $65.
Too many obituaries for the printed word have appeared on-line, and most will vanish into the virtual wasteland that swallows most digital utterances. Print has survived for more than five centuries and it will take more than Twitter and blogs to render it obsolete. Rather, we seem to be returning to the Middle Ages, when a well-educated minority read books and everyone else relied on preachers and gossip. So, three cheers for Thames & Hudson, which continues to publish inspiring titles even as their competitors dumb down.