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Large 039 tp8

Modern typography in Britain: graphic design, politics, and society (Typography papers 8)

This remarkable volume is a collection of eleven essays and shorter articles which for the first time provide rich contexts – social, cultural, and political – for graphic design in Britain. Reaching from the Second World War to the early 1970s, they fizz with provocative interconnections: between print culture, photojournalism and publishing, the London of émigrés, political meetings and demonstrations, cultural cafés and art schools. From these disparate milieux emerged new ideas about designing: configuring and picturing the world of facts and processes, shaping them for understanding, learning, and action. Presented here are documents of the nation’s life in war, its reconstruction through the passages from scarcity to plenty, the seeds of later fragmentation, always fertile with multiple intersections between biography and history.

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Modern typography: an essay in critical history

Robin Kinross

A brisk tour through the history of Western typography, from the time (c.1700 in France and England) when it can be said to have become ‘modern’. A spotlight is directed at different cultures in different times, to trace the developments and shifts in modern typography. Attention is given to ideas, to social context, and to technics, thus stepping over the limited and tired tropes of stylistic analysis. This is a reprint of the second edition, which has some variations in the pictures as well as corrections and updatings in the text.

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Richard Hollis designs for the Whitechapel: graphic work for the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1969–73 and 1978–85

Christopher Wilson

Richard Hollis was the graphic designer for London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery in the years 1969–73 and 1978–85. In this second period, under the directorship of Nicholas Serota, the gallery came to the forefront of the London art scene, with pioneering exhibitions of work by Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Cornell, Philip Guston, Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti, among others. Hollis’s posters, catalogues, and leaflets, conveyed this sense of discovery, as well as being models of practical graphic design. The pressures of time and a small budget enhanced the urgency and richness of their effects. Christopher Wilson’s monograph is an exemplary examination of a body of graphic design. This book matches the spirit of the work it describes: active, passionate, aesthetically refined, and committed to getting things right. As in Hollis’s work, ‘design’ here is a verb as much as a noun.

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Isotype: design and contexts, 1925–1971

Christopher Burke, Eric Kindel, Sue Walker (editors)

The work in graphic communication carried out by Otto Neurath and his associates – now commonly known simply as Isotype – has been the subject of much interest in recent years. Conceived and developed in the 1920s as ‘the Vienna method of pictorial statistics’, this approach to designing information had from its inception the power to grow and spread internationally. Political developments in Europe played their part in its development, and production moved to the Netherlands (1934) and to England (1940), where the Isotype Institute continued to produce work until 1971. Bringing together the latest research, this book is the first comprehensive, detailed account of its subject. The Austrian, Dutch, and English years of Isotype are described here freshly and extensively. There are chapters on the notable extensions of Isotype to Soviet Russia, the USA, and Africa. Isotype work in film and in designing for children is fully documented and discussed. Between these main chapters the book presents interludes documenting Isotype production visually. Three appendices reprint key documents. In its international coverage and its extensions into the wider terrain of history, this book opens a new vista in graphic design.

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Typeform dialogues

Eric Kindel (editor)

We are publishing here materials from the ‘Typeform dialogues’ project carried out at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London, in 1994–8 and afterwards. This pdf file (9 MB), edited by Eric Kindel and with contributions by Catherine Dixon, contains the User’s Manual for the CD-based interface, which was the project’s main focus, together with various supporting materials that describe the project.

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Entries

Socialism and print

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Robin Kinross / 2007.08.20

The latest New Left Review leads with a dazzling article by Régis Debray, lamenting the end of print, and of socialism: the one death implies and necessitates the other. Debray discerns three stages of communication history: the logosphere (from the invention of writing to the coming of the printing press; the graphosphere (from 1448 to around 1968); and the videosphere, the realm of the image – which we now inhabit. Read more

Rule or law

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Gerrit Noordzij / 2007.09.15

The re-publication here of this essay by Gerrit Noordzij is prompted by the issue of Christopher Burke’s ‘Active literature’. Our book was made in the belief that the best service to Tschichold is a critical placing of his works and his ideas in their real historical context: the fact that we want to do this in such detail must be evidence of the importance that we think his work has. Gerrit Noordzij’s short and sharply critical essay points to what may be the central issue in Tschichold’s writings, and it does more than that. I read ‘Rule or law’ when it was published in Paul Barnes’s small book of ‘Reflections and reappraisals’ on Jan Tschichold, which he edited and published (under the imprint of Typoscope) in New York in 1995. It stuck out from that book as an unusually serious and illuminating reflection, which took Tschichold as its focus, and in the process tells a large truth about how teaching can happen, and how learning can happen. For its publication here, the text has been a little corrected and updated, in conversation with the author. It certainly merits dissemination now on the World Wide Web. RK Read more

Signs at the Royal Festival Hall

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Robin Kinross / 2007.12.10

In summer of this year the Royal Festival Hall, on the South Bank of London’s river, was reopened after a major, two-year refurbishment. The auditorium itself was remade and restored, and the rest of the building was significantly remade/restored too. The spirit and the materials of the original building were respected, at the same time changes needed for the place’s new uses were made. The architects leading the work were Allies & Morrison, among the most convincing and least pretentious of the UK firms practising ‘modern architecture’. Read more

‘Wim Crouwel: mode en module’: a review

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Robin Kinross / 2013.04.05

This review of the book ‘Wim Crouwel: mode en module’, by Frederike Huygen and Hugues Boekrad, was written for and published in an issue ‘Typography papers’, now out of print.1 The Crouwel book, as it was often referred to, was issued only in a Dutch edition, which sold out quickly.2 Since then, Wim Crouwel’s renown has only increased. Most recently his work has been celebrated in a major exhibition (at the Design Museum, London, 2011, and on show from this month at The Lighthouse, Glasgow); in The Hague he has been awarded the Gerrit Noordzij Prize (2009, with an exhibition following in 2012). ‘Wim Crouwel: mode en module’ is now something of a fabled work, with large prices asked for second-hand copies. Given the continuing absence of an English-language edition of the book – which would surely be a tough translation, editorial, and production job, as well as an expensive one – this review may be worth resurrecting, as a marker of a moment in the discussion of graphic design. This version of my text is essentially as published in ‘Typography papers’, with a few updating remarks added in the notes. Read more

Copyright in designed pages

Robin Kinross / 2014.05.25

When graphic design work is reproduced, what rights do the people who made this work have? This piece looks at some of the issues, and at what United Kingdom law has to say about them. Reproduction of works of art presents a connected set of issues, and these will be looked at in a following article. Read more