On My Shelf: Nairn’s London
Nairn's London by Ian Nairn, published by Penguin Books, 1966. Design: Michael Norris. Photograph: Dennis Rolfe
Architecture writers go into raptures over Nairn’s London. Its author, the British architecture critic Ian Nairn, was a cult figure among contributors to Blueprint magazine, where I worked in the 1980s
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Discovered by Chance in a Paris Arcade
I was in Paris this week to talk about Surrealism and graphic design. What better way to pass a couple of spare hours before leaving than to pay a return visit to the covered arcades — forerunners of the shopping mall — that were, for the Surrealists, some of the best places in the city to encounter the marvellous?
In Praise of the East European Film Poster
Czech film posters of the 1960s are some of the most extraordinary graphic creations ever put on paper. So how can it be that outside of Eastern Europe, especially in English-speaking countries, these posters and the graphic artists who created them during a period of remarkable artistic freedom are barely known?
Out of the Studio: Graphic Design History and Visual Studies
Twenty years ago there was considerable optimism about the possibility that graphic design history would become a fully-fledged academic discipline. Although there has been some progress toward this goal in the past two decades, these developments have taken place at a slower pace than might once have been expected. As a discipline — if this is even the right term to use — graphic design history is still in a state of becoming, and there are good reasons to ask whether, on its present course, it will ever achieve the maturity that some observers hoped for. Graphic design history’s best chance of development now lies in an expanded conception of the rapidly emerging discipline of visual studies. Only there might it be able to establish the interdisciplinary connections necessary for it to fulfill its early promise and to grow.
How to Chew Gum while Walking
This week, in a review in the Observer
newspaper about the proposed design of the London HQ for the Swiss bank UBS, the British architecture critic Rowan Moore set out the demands of principled design with startling clarity. “Good architects,” he said, “should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”