Your Cart

Impact 1.0: The 1960s and visual experimentation

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 second post, we’ve picked four magazine covers from the 1960s that show some of the experimental approaches in type and pattern that design titles were using at the time. [Our first post, on Swiss titles from the mid-1950s, is here.] Canadian designer Carl Dair designed all six issues of A Typographic Quest, a slim booklet that was published as the house journal of the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (Westvaco) in 1964. Shown above is the cover of its second issue which...

read entire article

Impact 1.0: Swiss magazine covers from the 1950s

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 first post, we’ve picked four great Swiss magazine covers from the 1950s that employ minimal techniques for maximum effect. [Our second post, on 1960s experiments with type and pattern, is here.] By the early 1950s, both the Zürich-based Graphis magazine and Bern's Typographische Monatsblätter journal were well-established Swiss design titles – founded in 1944 and 1933, respectively. The two Graphis covers shown here, for issues 46 and 50, date from 1953 and together illustrate the clean slate approach that the magazine took...

read entire article

Rick Poynor on the posters of the National Theatre.

Rick Poynor is a writer and critic, and Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading. He is the author of numerous books on design and visual culture, and was the founding editor of Eye magazine. In 2017, he curated an exhibition of the posters advertising the plays of the National Theatre. He also wrote and edited a book (National Theatre: A Design History) celebrating half a century of the NT’s poster designs, which Unit Editions was delighted to publish. In this interview, Rick discusses key issue surrounding the posters and their role in the promotion and visualisation of theatrical performances.  

read entire article

Ben Bos (1930—2017)

For Ben Bos’s 80th birthday in 2010, his wife Elly Bos asked Adrian Shaughnessy to write a short text about Ben for inclusion in the book she produced as a birthday celebration. This is a slightly edited version of that text. _ When Elly Bos asked me to write an introduction to a book celebrating Ben’s 80th birthday, I did something I hadn’t done before, I read Ben’s biography Design of a Lifetime. I knew the book well, but I only knew it as a compendium of Ben’s striking graphic design. I hadn’t read the text. This was remiss of me: the text is extraordinary. Ben’s place in graphic design history is secure. At its best, his design is characterised by...

read entire article

In conversation with Simon Johnston, co-founder of 8vo and Octavo

Simon Johnston was educated at Bath Academy of Art and at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel, Switzerland. In the 1980s he co-founded the design studio 8vo in London, and was instigator and co-editor of the typography journal Octavo. Later he relocated to California, where his current design practice, Simon Johnston Design, focuses on publications for galleries and museums. He is a professor and Creative Director of the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT) at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. In 2017 he launched the publishing house Verb Editions (.com). He is contributing a foreword to the forthcoming book, Octavo Redux. Your current practice encompasses design, teaching, publishing and art. Do you bring the same sensibility to each of these disciplines, or...

read entire article

In conversation with Octavo's Mark Holt & Hamish Muir: part two.

The second part of our conversation with Hamish Muir and Mark Holt.Unit Editions: You have often cited your dissatisfaction with the state of British graphic design in the late 80s. What was so bad about it, and in what way was Octavo a riposte to that state of affairs?  Hamish Muir and Mark Holt: As we said in our editorial for Octavo #1, British design was very parochial, full of in-jokes and cultural references that did not transfer well across European boundaries. There appeared to be a love affair with symmetry. A lot of design was cute, banal, or twee, and terribly British in a Dick van Dyke-like parody kind of way. Much of the typography around was simply in service...

read entire article

In conversation with Octavo's Mark Holt & Hamish Muir

Between the years 1986 and 1992, as part of the design studio 8vo, Hamish Muir and Mark Holt designed and edited eight editions of the typography journal Octavo. The magazine, except for #8, which was a CD-Rom, was always A4, always 16pp, always used the typeface (Unica), and always with a trace cover, has passed into typographic legend. Long out of print, the journal is now being revived in the book Octavo Redux. It is also the subject of a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter. You can find out more about it here: 
 Muir and Holt spoke to us at length about the immanent re-publication of their journal. Here is part one of the discussion. Part two will follow shortly. ...

read entire article

In conversation with Graphic Philatelist, Blair Thomson

We caught up with Blair Thomson, co-author of Graphic Stamps [Unit 24], and the man behind Graphilately. Since publishing Graphic Stamps, what has been the response to your growing collection?Blair Thomson: I’ve had nothing but positive vibes since the release of Graphic Stamps [Unit 24], and seen it reach many diverse audiences through some amazing features and reviews in national and international publications, both online and in print. My motivation with Graphilately has always been to expose design of this nature outside the comforts of my own graphic design bubble. Which it certainly has, beyond all expectations.Recently a selection of ‘politically charged’ stamps were sent to Seattle to feature in the ‘Design of Dissent’ exhibition (originally curated by Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic) which the recent US elections prompted studio Civilization to...

read entire article

Graphic Stamps of Countries Neglected in Graphic Design History

Israel, 1980–1982. Design: G. Sagi 'More than just miniature beauties, stamps offer a flavour of their time,' notes Iain Follet, one of the two stamp design experts that helped compile this book, ‘Different countries, through different periods in their histories, kept varying levels of records.’Here we take a look at philatelic offerings from countries sometimes neglected in graphic design history: Singapore, 1983. Design: Eng Siak LoyPeru, 1973. Designer unknown ‘As designers we always appreciate the additional level of detail: sublime typography, special inks, embossing and foils, tactile materials, print process effects. Certainly from a collector’s perspective these add a layer of appreciation and value beyond the ordinary’Blair Thomson Ecuador, 1975. Designer unknownColombia, 1972. Design: C. Rojas ‘As Unit’s Adrian Shaughnessy...

read entire article

Pushing the Envelope with April's Book of the Month, Graphic Stamps

‘Design is what drew me towards stamps’ says Iain Follet. It’s this sentiment that drew us to his, and fellow philatelist, Blair Thomson’s impeccable collection of the miniature beauties for the launch of our Archive Series.  Here's what Smith Journal had to say:‘The stamps in the book aren’t fusty. They’re modernist clarion calls that celebrate the many achievements of the 20th century: Olympics, expos, television, railways, air travel, skyscrapers, nuclear energy, the space race, higher education, the United Nations. They come from an era when nothing was thought too good for us, when public art was shoehorned into social housing estates, office blocks and schools, when culture was democratised en masse’ ‘Most collectors cherish the older stamps, the rarities, the misprints....

read entire article