It’s encouraging to see a new generation producing great work for print

One of the most prominent outcomes of recession is the return of great print graphics. Some say the life of print is limited, given the wider reach of digital communications and potential cost savings, but evidence suggests that the quality of print design is on the up.

Black and white with one spot colour tends to be the palette of choice, with bold typography – and clever words – dominating over visual imagery. It is a theme familiar to the old guard in design, but it is interesting to see a new generation adopting it.

There were examples of strong graphics in the Design Week Awards last week – take the work of Purpose for English Farming and Food Partnerships and Mark Studio’s promotions for the Manchester Literature Festival. Indeed, the Best of Show winner – Annual Report and Six Accounts by B&W Studio for Leeds homelessness charity St George’s Crypt – was hailed by the judges as a simple design with a powerful message.

Is this a backlash against technology? We’ve certainly seen a return to crafts, with hand-drawn type, letterpress printing, and print and embroidery combos manifest in graphics. Or is it merely a response to austerity brought about by recession?

It is probably a combination of the two, but it is a very welcome shift that has brought print design back to its basic best. It might even prompt design students to hone their craft skills.

Interactive design is at its most inspiring in, say, movies like James Cameron’s Avatar, lighting installations by Jason Bruges and websites like that by Kent Lyons for architect Rick Mather, which won a DW Award last week. It is key to design’s future in business terms – last week Sir Martin Sorrell vowed to make it a bigger part in WPP’s fortunes – and also in developing new talents.

How great, though, to see a resurgence of print design. Let’s hope interiors folk can now up their game introducing concepts that go beyond fixtures and fittings. Then the whole of design will be motoring.

Latest articles