If you thought 2010 was Neville Brody’s year, prepare to see a repeat performance by the exhuberant graphics star as plans for 2011 continue to unfold.
The Anti Design Festival he staged last year will translate this September into the Anti Design Museum, hosted by the Design Museum as part of the London Design Festival. Meanwhile, the Royal College of Art professorship he assumed in January is set to become a bigger job when he takes on the new, overarching role of dean of the School of Communication in the autumn as part of a restructuring across the post-graduate college.
And then there is the 400-page book that publisher Taschen is set to launch in the autumn charting the history of Fuse magazine, the experimental typography periodical produced by Brody’s Research Studios. The shelves of many a type freak are probably being reinforced to take what promises to be a weighty, must-have tome.
It will be encased in the corrugated cardboard wraparound familiar to Fuse fans and contain all the original Fuse 1-18 material. We are also promised Fuse editions 19 and 20 in the package, as well as posters and downloadable fonts.
Now D&AD has teamed up with Arjowiggins Creative Papers to launch a The Blank Sheet Project, which will involve four seminal designers sharing their thoughts on how you meet the ultimate creative challenge – a blank sheet of paper.
And the first design star to address the question, ‘How will we leave our mark’, is – you guessed it – Brody.
Overkill? Maybe, but few graphic designers are, like Brody (and, we assume, the yet-to-be-named trio who will join him in the D&AD project), prepared these days to commit their initial thoughts to paper. The screen has largely taken the place of the sketch pad, to the chagrin of many leading lights of the predigital generation.
Of course, you can be just as creative with a mousepad and screen as you can with paper and pencil, but a trend back to the ‘art’ of design has seen more graphic designers and illustrators taking the latter route over the past couple of years and a huge revival in 3D making. Indeed, a new book by former RCA rector Sir Christopher Frayling makes the case for craft, to which drawing is surely fundamental.
Frayling’s slim tome, On craftsmanship: towards a new Bauhaus, exudes scholarship as the author draws on his seemingly infinite knowledge of design history to present a lively case for a new Bauhaus. And what might that learning centre look like these days? Well, in his ‘essay’ you can detect much as Frayling’s cross-dsciplinary vision for the RCA when he was rector. But there are a few themes that could apply in a broader education system, including the notion of ‘engagement’ between all parties and a two-way process.
Most telling though is the quote from art historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner of the original Bauhaus movement that it would be ‘A genuinely contemporary expression of life’. And if drawing, making and storytelling are, as we suspect, increasingly part of everyday design life then they are key to a revisited concept – and the likes of Brody and his Blank Sheet peers among the pioneers from a graphics perspective.
On craftsmanship: towards a new Bauhaus by Sir Christopher Frayling is published by Oberon Books as part of the Oberon Masters series, priced £9.99.