In a recent enewsletter GDUSA publisher Gordon Kaye suggested that graphic design trends in diverse areas such as print design, logo design and use of color had become too influenced by digital technology and that designers may begin to embrace more traditional and artisanal approaches. He also noted, in part, that “our 51st Anniversary Print Design Survey reveals a sense among designers that the pendulum has swung too far from print communications” and the element of touch and physicality is being lost in the “digital clutter”. We were greatly honored when design legend George Tscherny found these comments to resonate and added his own simple but profound message:
too many buttons
too many apps
too much twitter
Mr. Tscherny included his design for the AIGA Centennial in which AIGA invited 100 designers to pick a year from the last century to illustrate. George Tscherny picked 1947 and selected to illustrate the barcode which was developed in 1947/1948 and patented in the early 1950s. The design evokes his plea to “humanize technology,” which Mr. Tscherny explains is not a plea for robots but “rather of thoughts recollected in tranquility* amid all the digital clutter.” We couldn’t agree more!
* “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” -William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads
“Styles come and go. Good design is a language, not a style.” That quote by Massimo Vignelli elegantly summed up his philosophy of design — and, by the way, what did he do that was not elegantly done?
Mr. Vignelli died yesterday at the age of 83 after a long illness. Born in Milan and trained as an architect in Milan and Venice, he was an admirer of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, and spent a lifetime translating the concept of “functional beauty” into everything he designed. He was the leading “modernist” graphic designer, striving for disciplined, intelligent and simplified solutions based on timeless geometric forms. A biography accompanying the presentation of the AIGA Medal to he and his wife states: “Vignelli design, in both three dimensions and two, is highly architectural in character. Massimo’s posters, publications and graphic designs seem to be built in stories, separated by the now-familiar, bold, horizontal rules. Basic geometry is respected. The investigative design process moves from the inside out: ‘The correct shape is the shape of the object’s meaning.’ The Vignelli commitment to the correctness of a design has taken their work beyond the mechanical exercise of devising a form best suited to a given function. They’ve always understood that design itself, in the abstract, could and should be an integral part of function.”
Massimo Vignelli, considered by many as one of the world’s great designers, is very ill and will be spending his last days at home. His son Luca would like all those who were influenced or inspired by him to write him a letter.
Here is my letter to Massimo that I will be sure to mail to him as well:
I was lucky beyond words. You were the first real graphic designer I ever met. I was 6 years old and you were visiting my father, who was then the publisher of Print Magazine and getting ready to start Package Design Magazine, on which you were a consultant.