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Impact 1.0 & 2.0: IDEA magazine

This month we’re featuring highlights from our two-volume Impact books that bring together some of the best covers created for design magazines and journals from the 1920s to the present day (both now £29 each in the Unit shop).

For our third post, we’ve picked four covers from Japan's IDEA magazine. [Our first post, on Swiss titles from the mid-1950s, is here; our second, on 1960s type and pattern experiments, is here.]

Founded in 1953, IDEA is a quarterly showcase of graphic design, typography and communications. Since its earliest editions it has spotlighted various areas of design practice by approach and also location.

During the 1950s and 60s, for example, it reported on design work from specific parts of Japan – from the Hokuriku District to Hokkaido – and also from the UK, Israel, Argentina and Finland. In 1966 it celebrated the graphics of pharmaceutical company Geigy and also CBS.

Shown below is the striking cover that Austrian designer Herbert Bayer created for the 10th issue of the magazine in 1955. 

IDEA's first art director was Hiroshi Ohchi and his cover for issue 38 in 1959, shown below, reveals the magazine's fluid approach to its masthead (often stacked, as here), coverlines and text. 

Ohchi died in 1974 and issue 128 (1975) featured a selection of his work in a special section. The cover also made great use of one of his bold artworks.

Into the 21st-century, IDEA continues to reflect the emerging trends and thinking of the contemporary design scene – and frequently through its cover choices.

IDEA issue 281 from 2000 contained a special 'Made in America' feature and a compartmentalised cover design by Charles S. Anderson Design Co. (shown below).

The main feature included work by a host of US names including Anderson, Chris Ware, House Industries, Rudy Vanderlans (Emigre), Pablo Medina, PLAZM, Martin Venezkey, Modern Dog, Todd Waterbury and many more.

For issue 374 in 2016, Unit were asked to create a 24pp feature on Lance Wyman's design work for the Mexico 1968 Olympics. You can read more about that here.

The IDEA site contains an extensive and detailed archive of issues going back to its debut in 1953 – see – and 65 years on its approach to cover design remains a key part of its success and longevity. 

These four covers are featured in Impact 1.0, which includes some of the best covers of design magazine and journals from 1922 to 1973 and is now available to buy for £29 and its sister volume, Impact 2.0, which brings together design magazine and journal covers from 1974 to 2016. Both can be purchased together as a bundle for £50.