Rick Poynor on the end of Emigre

November 18, 2005 Comments Off on Rick Poynor on the end of Emigre

Icograda | Feature

Emigre: An Ending
by Rick Poynor, U.K.
(reprinted from Design Observer, November 2005)

Design blogs generate a lot of noise and they sure do love their own hype, but nothing produced in this area has so far equalled the concentrated documentary achievement and design culture transforming impact of Emigre and if you doubt this, just go and look at the magazine. Emigre had a clearly defined purpose. It involved contributions by many talented people, but the conduit for all this fervour and brain power was provided by one unusually astute editor. Emigre emerged at a time when technology was changing design forever and the magazine sizzled with this energy and excitement. Nothing so momentous or contentious is happening in graphic design today. Blogs, on the other hand, lack the focus of an overriding design mission. They are places for chatter. They are about anything, everything and often about nothing of any great consequence. No one, so far, has used the medium to stake out an urgent critical position comparable to Keedy’s or Blauvelt’s in the pages of Emigre in the 1990s. Nor have blogs proved to be the medium for exploring new design aesthetics. In Emigre, form itself became a means of debate. What the magazine said was inseparable from how it looked.

I heard Rudy VanderLans speak at ACAD many years ago. He said something to the effect that if you didn’t design the typeface you used, can you really say you designed the work? That always stuck with me.

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