Hyphen Press


In 2017 we published the last book from this imprint and completed the set of music CDs. None of the out-of-print titles will now be reprinted or re-edited. A number of factors are at work in this decision: changes in the nature of the book trade, economics, age, weariness. There are still numbers of some books in the warehouse. We will go on selling books and CDs directly from this website. Meanwhile the website will continue to publish articles and materials on the themes established in the journal.

The first book issued by Hyphen Press, in 1980, was Norman Potter’s What is a designer. It set out an approach that we tried to maintain. Without a question mark in the title, the book proposes as much as it asks and answers. It suggests that design is an activity, a verb rather than a noun, and that design is illuminated by literature, art, music. At the same time, Norman Potter suggested, design means technique, craft skills, human interactions, and assimilation of information; the book included lists of useful addresses, with telephone numbers.

In the 1990s we began to concentrate on our home ground of typography, but trying to see it in wider contexts. Books such as Jost Hochuli’s Designing books and Karel Martens: printed matter / drukwerk also represented, in their very manufacture, an encounter with the European continent. We worked from London but looked over the Channel towards countries and cultures that maintained stronger industrial craft skills than were (and are still not) available in the UK.

Later developments included a loose series of small-format paperbacks, consisting of works that have proved themselves: among these titles were (again) Potter’s What is a designer, the second edition of Robin Kinross’s Modern typography, and Gerrit Noordzij’s The stroke. Against the grain of contemporary publishing, with its incessant search for The New, we enjoyed rediscovering existing but overlooked works and bringing them back to public attention. We expanded horizons beyond typography and design, following the hints thrown out in What is a designer. With Morton Feldman says we declared an interest in music; we went on to establish our own CD label, Hyphen Press Music. At the same time we pursued new writing and new scholarship in our home ground of design.



The first Hyphen Press website was designed by Eric Kindel, with construction by Jonathan Pagel; it was launched in summer 1998. In summer 2000 the site was relaunched in essentially the same visual form, with construction and design development by Matt Patterson.

In April 2007 we went online with a fresh website, with, among other new features, a shop. This was designed and constructed by James King.

A Hyphen extra website was added in summer 2010. This was designed and constructed by Jane Cheng.

In the autumn of 2013 the whole website was redesigned and rebuilt by Matt Carey and his colleagues at Studio Lift.

In the summer of 2022, under the supervision of Matt Carey and his colleagues at Studio Lift, the website was moved from a custom-built content management system to a WordPress CMS.

[August 2022]