Adrian Shaughnessy | Books


The design world moves at a frenzied pace. Today’s innovations are tomorrow’s redundancies. What is hot now becomes tepid in the blink of an eye. This has turned keeping up with the changes in the design ecosystem into a full-time job.

Today, we use the internet and social media feeds to stay abreast of developments, but we used to rely on the design press. Already, most of the major players have left the stage. Will the few remaining stalwarts be around in 10 years’ time? Perhaps. But it’s hard to be optimistic.

These two volumes (Impact 1 and Impact 2, from Unit Editions) are an attempt to catalogue the excellence of the publications that catered for design of all kinds. The decision to publish this collection was prompted by visits to two design archives. The first was to the University of the Creative Arts (UCA) archive in Epsom, UK. The second was to the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography in New York. Both locations house a super abundance of design magazines from the early 20th century to the present day. The opportunity to make a book out of these star-spangled collections was too good to pass up — and so great was the number of worthwhile specimens we needed to accommodate that the planned single volume quickly became two.

We elected to show only covers, and only those covers that exhibited superior design values. Interestingly, this means that the publications we have included also tend to be the publications that have the most all-round merit. Poor covers usually means poor content.

Although the covers shown are mostly from graphic design publications, we have included some from architecture and material design. But again, only where the design is exemplary. There are covers by some of the stellar names in graphic design, as well as others by less well-known names, but often no less talented.

We have also sought to acknowledge the contribution made by editors, writers, and the publishers of journals. Without them, we are entitled to wonder if design would have evolved quite so rapidly from a marginal artisanal craft of the early 20th century to the sophisticated communication and information discipline that it is today?

The design profession has been guilty of taking design publications for granted, and this, along with our obsession with the always-on, free-content internet, has allowed them to wither away. But the story of graphic design without its journals of record — many now only a ghostly memory — is hard to conceive.

Posted in: Books, Graphic Design

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