design history


Design history is the study of objects of design in their historical and stylistic contexts.

From the single-style, monolingual fonts of the metal-type era to the complex, sprawling, multi-script families of the digital present, typography and type design have evolved, not only to embrace developments in print and communication technology, but also to support a world where unity and diversity must meet if we are to survive.
Essays · 2 October 2017 · English · 1302 words
Two years after releasing History, Peter Bilak reflects on the process of creating this skeletal system in which different styles are imposed on a Roman capital base. Previous experiments are mentioned, as well as inspiration sources for the typeface.
Typeface stories · 9 March 2010 · English · 1792 words
Dieser Artikel basiert zum Teil auf meiner Forschung für die Ausstellung über das tschechische und slowakische Schriftdesign mit Schwerpunkt auf der Entwicklung der Typografie in den letzten zwanzig Jahren, die ich zusammen mit Alan Záruba 2004-2006 kuratierte. Die Ausstellung mit dem Titel 'Experiment And Typography' wurde erstmals 2004 an der International Biennale of Graphic Design in Brno gezeigt und zog später weiter nach Prag, Den Haag, Bratislava, Cieszyn, Ljubljana, Warschau und Budapest.
Essays · 28 November 2006 · German · 3875 words
This article is partly based on the research for the exhibition on Czech and Slovak typeface design that we co-curated with Alan Záruba in 2004-2006 focusing on the last twenty years of typography development. The exhibition entitled 'Experiment And Typography' was first presented at the Biennale of Graphic Design in Brno in 2004 and later travelled to Prague, The Hague, Bratislava, Cieszyn, Ljubljana, Warsaw and Budapest.
Essays · 3 October 2006 · English · 3891 words
Andy Crewdson discusses the origins of the Dutch designer’s recent family of types.
Typeface stories · 24 February 2005 · English · 1573 words
The abstract for Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997.
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 392 words
The introduction to Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997 (part one).
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 1661 words
The introduction to Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997 (part two).
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 12205 words
The introduction of Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997 (part three).
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 9537 words
The first chapter of Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997 (part one).
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 15154 words
The first chapter of Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997 (part two).
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 901 words
The second chapter of Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997.
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 18886 words
The third chapter of Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997.
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 17408 words
The fourth chapter of Emily King’s doctoral thesis which focuses on typeface design in the United States, England and the Netherlands between 1987 and 1997.
Essays · 23 January 2005 · English · 15377 words
Dan Reynolds reviews a travelling exhibit of Czech and Slovak type design from the past two decades, and compares this exhibit to the Fresh Fonts exhibit of Swiss design shown in Zurich until July 2004.
Reviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 2013 words
Two books are reviewed and compared: one, a Phaidon book by Steven Heller on the history of avant-garde publications from the early 20th century on, the other, a glossier Taschen book featuring the recent design work of some 100 studios. Read on as Stuart Bailey puts the two in a ring together and hands Heller a very large pair of gloves.
Reviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 1633 words
A critical review of the design book Restart, first appearing in Items first issue. Some very well-known designers’ work is featured in this modern vs. post-modern, 175 page book from two London-based authors.
Reviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 613 words
A review of the late Kalman’s monograph in context, with a brief background of Tibor’s influential design work and approach to its role in the consumer culture of the 80s and 90s.
Reviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 1726 words
A critical review of the design and content of a collection of some 20th century type and its applications.
Reviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 388 words
An in depth account of Malcolm Quinn’s book about the swastika, which investigates in depth the history and function of the symbol, beginning with its earliest manifestations in cultures around the globe and even its pre-Nazi uses in western commerce, then focusing on its forever tarnishing appropriation by Hitler.
Reviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 1841 words
A brief rundown of the treatment of art by the Nazi state and the background of Hitler’s repressive cultural policies in this review of two books, one about the art of the Nazi state in general, and the other specifically about the show Degenerate Art which toured the Reich in an attempt to exterminate modern art.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1624 words
This article by the designer of Scala and Seria is as much a typographic guide and history lesson as it is a personal account of his approach to type design.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 3195 words
Steven Heller discusses the history and current state of guerrilla, activist and political design from posters to attached image files.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2857 words
The optimistic theory is put forth that institutions of power have been democratized by the “empowering effects of the media” and that real change can be effected by graphic designers who use their work to engage the public in meaningful dialogue.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2607 words
A reduced and expanded exploration of Swiss design and culture across the 20th century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2388 words
An interesting analysis of the history, politics and context of graphic images which are composed of crowds of people: people as pixels!
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2076 words
A refreshingly positive response to (and call for?) more, and more thoughtful culture and design publications in a time when the phrase “who needs another design mag?” is common. Max Bruinsma also briefly details the evolution of Dutch and other non-mainstream/design publications.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2284 words
An overview of the work of Cuban-born titling artist Pablo Ferro who broke ground with the titles for films like Dr. Strangelove and pioneered moving type for the screen.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 3038 words
A history of the little-known collaboration of Ladislav Sutnar and Knud Lönberg-Holm, who together were a modern design team which was ahead of its time in the realm of information information design.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2827 words
About the German-born founder of the Bettmann Archives in New York which houses over 5 million cuts, drawings, images and pieces of ephemera, collected since the 1930's.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 607 words
A history and analysis of the role played by this American precursor to the graphic design magazine, which sought to bring progressive commercial graphic and industrial arts into the mainstream.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1276 words
In 1999, Print magazine talked to 20 American design heroes and had them look at work from their halcyon days. Designers from Art Chantry to Massimo Vignelli discuss a piece of early work as a foil for Print’s ‘Designers Under Thirty’ section.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 4096 words
Walter Benjamin’s ideas are explored (amongst other early 20th century avant-garde artists) in relation to the recent discussions around expanding the designer’s role from that of problem solver to one of author—and producer.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1404 words
The point-form story of a German dentist named Hans Josef Sachs and the magazine Das Plakat he founded on his love for posters. Responsible for the promulgation of early German advertising art abroad, his vast collection was confiscated by Goebbels for the Nazis’ collections and Sachs narrowly escaped the Holocaust. Steven Heller looks at the rise and fall of this significant early design periodical.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1894 words
Wooden display types, Victorian chromolithography and the demise of Art Nouveau in the form of a poster for a German Match company in 1906...
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1256 words
An exploded view of the digital screen, informed by analyses of architecture, designers’ roles, avant-garde Dutch design from the De Stijl period and geometry.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1802 words
An examination from 1996 of the history and concept of the designer as author, starting in the first decades of the 20th century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 4801 words
A fascinatingly thorough investigation of the naming of typefaces. The naming of type as a window to history, conventions, the hermetic type world and cultural context, then and now.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1987 words
The “epitome of a post-war Modernist”, Walter Herdeg, backbone of Graphis magazine, is appraised by Steven Heller.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 711 words
A mid-90s account of the development and current state of Dutch design and type in the context of its cultural and political history.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1756 words
A mid-90s appraisal of Dutch graphic design’s unique qualities, with an overview of various studios, designers and significant movements from the 20th century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2672 words
In the early 1990s Steven Heller takes on the word ugly as he sees it applied to graphic design and design education. En route, his views of art history, pop culture and recent design trends are considered in his essay about style and meaning in design.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2778 words
A discussion about the role of design, museums and more in British and American culture.
Interviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 1548 words
The globalisation and homogenisation of design, legibility and communication and the history of Emigre magazine are discussed in this interview with its founder, Rudy VanderLans.
Interviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 3323 words
A discussion about the art and design ephemera collecting practices of Merrill Berman, who has amassed a vast portfolio of design history from the past century and more.
Interviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 2340 words
A history of visual design and arts pedagogy, the Bauhaus, semiotics and gestalt theories as they apply to modern graphic design education.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 6235 words
A survey of woman designers of books, magazines, activist campaigns, identities etc. across the 20th century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 4875 words
Lars Müller is taken to task for his religious reverence for and faith in the omnipresent Helvetica, and the book he produced which is described as a sort of universalist, modernist gospel but several decades misplaced. What one might come away with from the book and review is the possibility that type preferences are simply individualistic... so what does it matter anyway?
Reviews · 29 November 2004 · English · 2322 words
Steven Heller laments the disappearance of refined modern design craftsmanship and organisation, and provides some background to Sutnar’s work, upholding him as a pioneer of just this sort of waning craft.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 1230 words
A thorough look at the history and development of large type families across the 20th century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 4197 words
Emily King’s contents (part two of ten) for her dissertation for the V&A/RCA M.A. Course in the History of Design. The dissertation focuses on the relationship between graphic design and film in the middle of the past century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 58 words
Emily King’s introduction to her dissertation for the V&A/RCA M.A. Course in the History of Design. The dissertation focuses on the relationship between graphic design and film in the middle of the past century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2320 words
Part three of ten of Emily King’s dissertation for the V&A/RCA M.A. Course in the History of Design. The dissertation focuses on the relationship between graphic design and film in the middle of the past century. here she lays down the modernist roots of her work.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 2171 words
Part four of ten of Emily King’s dissertation for the V&A/RCA M.A. Course in the History of Design. The dissertation focuses on the relationship between graphic design and film in the middle of the past century.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 4058 words
Part five of ten of Emily King’s dissertation for the V&A/RCA M.A. Course in the History of Design. The dissertation focuses on the relationship between graphic design and film in the middle of the past century. Saul bass, Hitchcock, Clement Greenbrg, Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood: the American avant garde and kitsch...
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 3705 words
Part seven of ten of Emily King's dissertation for the V&A/RCA M.A. Course in the History of Design. The dissertation focuses on the relationship between graphic design and film in the middle of the past century. Bond titling sequences and the invasion of British design...
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 4404 words
A theory-heavy, mid-1990s look at the concept of Deconstruction, looking at its origins in French post-structuralist discourse and then current use in the design world.
Essays · 29 November 2004 · English · 5125 words