The influence of Archigram in BldgBlog Book's graphic design.
When I looked at the book BldgBlog Book, in particular, the cover, I firstly thought of these 60's 70's radical little magazines/fanzines of architecture — I wished I had a copy of these fanzines —, especially Archigram magazine, but also Bau Magazine (in particular the color of the cover). The book was designed by MacFadden & Thorpe, and illustrated by Brendan Callahan of Semigood Design. It is certain the author Geoff Manaugh, blogger, writer, lecturer, editor, etc., is influenced by, not only Archigram, but also the whole 60's culture — novel, cinema, science fiction, art, architecture, design, illustration. This book gives me the opportunity to collect some articles on magazines and books published in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
We all know that the emergence of these magazines has participated in the transformation of architectural practices as well as the conception of magazines of architecture, and of course books of architecture. Magazines such as Le Carré Bleu, for instance, was an example of innovative designs.
The issue I found on Internet, issue #3, September 1968, — Canadian Center Architecture (CCA) has welcomed, in 2007, the exhibition entitled "The Radical Little Magazines of Architecture: 1960s-1970s" curated by Beatriz Colomina and a group of PhD student of Princeton University — is typical of these socially-engaged magazines. It was launched 4 months after May event, with the will to translate students and workers' protests. This Paris and Helsinski-based magazine, in fact, was created in 1958 by a collective connected to Team 10. Texts of Giancarlo de Carlo, Alison and Peter Smithson, Candilis-Josic-Woods, to quote but a few, as well as illustration were published in this double-sided pamphlet. Another magazine is Form, a British-made magazine, with a great graphic design that makes clear the editorial line: architecture combined with art, and a deep political influence. The particularity of this magazine is its interest for the 1920s Avant-garde, in particular Soviet Avant-garde magazine LEF which has probably influenced the graphic conception of the magazine.
French Magazines, Le Carré Bleu aside, were very productive with L'architecture d'aujourd'hui, to choose an example among these magazines. Of course, a magazines-of-60s lover will not forget Archigram as one of the most important magazines of architecture that is still cited as example of the best designed magazines. Archigram used illustration, precisely comics universe, to draw imaginative and narrative cities — or cities of future.
Another example with these illustrations
Of course, and this is one of the comparison that can be made with The BldgBlog Book, architecture was left behind in favor of speculation, futuristic stories on cities, with a narrative style, were. This is probably this disruption with formal style — magazines that only focuses or discussing on buildings, to choose an example among many others — that made the success of Archigram Magazine in the 1960s and, today, in 2009, in a certain way, makes the success of The BldgBlog Book.
Geoff Manaugh is not the only one who is influenced by these radical magazines. I discovered two years ago a London-based American-Swiss graphic designer, born in 1984, raised in LA, before installing in London: Zak Kyes. Zak Kyes, independent graphic designer, also Architectural Association's art director, probably influences young architects as well as he is influenced by these architects with whom he collaborates — the particularity of these architects is to be not only architects but also theoreticians and editors, and, and, and — such as London-Based Germand architect Markus Miessen, Shumon Basar, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Eyal Weizman, to quote but a few. To introduce Zak Kyes's work needs more space that this article can propose. Zak Kyes decided to attend CalArts after dropping out of double major business and history of art that he learnt in New York. He then moved to London, and now works as an independent graphic design. Zak Kyes takes an experimental position in graphic design field. He is interested in various fields from graphic design to architecture, and history of art. Research, writing and editing are the core element of his practices. He regularly collaborates with fashion designers, artists and architects. His relationship with architecture seems be normal for, architecture is a language close to graphic design. As the medium of architecture, design must be "informed by the world around it" and for those who seize the important legacy of art, graphic design and architecture of 20s and 60s, it can be understood by his interest for avant-garde art and conceptual art. Since 2007, he worked as teacher for Architectural Association where he teaches graphic design and its relation with architecture. He, in fact, uses teaching as expanding space in which he can experiment with students various research on form, typeface, etc. The graphic conception of AArchitecture, a magazine established in 2006 by Architectural Design, that he's in charge of with AA Studio Print is an example of his research on the relation of architecture and graphic design. This magazine has been, in fact, established in 1960s but, after, approximately 30 years of break, has been relaunched in 2006. Zak Kyes reappropriates, if not recycles, graphic strategies of the first period of AArchitecture: each issue has its own color, its typeface, its organization of images and texts, says, its own language. He, for instance, appreciates organizing body text around a color and a typeface. AArchitecture issue #5's body text is typeset in Sabon Bold and either red or black, depending on his will of playing with the content: interview, information, essay, probably as these architects of Archigram have done with their magazine, this desire to play with the limit of the relation of architecture and graphic design. Otherwise, graphic design is the extension of architecture. Books The Violence of Participation and East Coast Europe are other examples of his work. Both books were edited by architect Markus Miessen, architect and theoretician who explores the relation of politics and spatial practices.
For the book The Violence of Participation, he uses color — yellow for the dustjacket and blue for the text of the cover, and certain texts such as the introduction and Hans Ulrich Obrist's text, black for the main body text —, incorporates use of white space, and, combines juxtaposition of images, illustrations and texts.
I am very happy to see and read these new energy. I haven't talk of other fascinating editorial projects such as Verb that I love reading. Let's these for another article to come. For those who hare interested in AArchitecture but can't find it in his favorite bookstore, you can find it here.
Geoff Manaugh, BldgBlog Book, Chronicle Books, 2009
Markus Miessen, The Violence of Participation, Sternberg Press, 2007
Markus Miessen, East Coast Europe, Sternberg Press, 2008
Mimi Zeiger, "Fantasy Lands", Architect Magazine, August 2009
"The Radical Little Magazines of Architecture — 1960s-1970s", arttattler.com