As a young design student I was asked to help catalogue the posters of designer FHK Henrion. I hadn’t heard of Henrion at the time, but I soon realised he was of some historical significance and jumped at the chance to see his posters up close in the flesh.
What struck me most during the process was the piercingly direct messages of Henrion’s designs – none more so than his ‘four hands’ poster, produced for display after the D-Day liberation. At the time the poster was produced it wasn’t known whether the invasion would take place in France, Holland or Norway, so what better solution than to produce a poster requiring no words.
Like so many of his designs, this is an example of perfectly clear and concise communication. Today I surround myself with his work as a reminder of the principles he set in place, not only as an important commercial artist of the inter-war period, but also as a pioneer of corporate identity in Britain.
Alan Fletcher is often referred to as the father of graphic design, and Henrion played something of a fatherly role to Fletcher. Does this make Henrion the grandfather of graphic design?