The AZ Project is a wonderful resource of graphic design, an archive of great designers and typographers. It is a site and a book, and we will focus on some designers presented on the book, that by the way can be downloaded in english or italian.

Here is its concluding paragraph: “100 graphic designers to tell a story, to describe different approaches to visual communication, some rather unique, others more common, all relevant in some way, in five important areas of graphic design. These 100 may not be the greatest graphic designers of all time but they are certainly among the finest. Thanks to them, the AZ Project Graphic Design took off, an archive on international graphic design that will soon be expanded with new profiles of other important designers, of the past or present. It is the first step, a way to launch the project, a pondered selection of some of the most successful graphic design projects of the past century. However, a lot of work still has to be done…”



Meticulous and impeccable, Aicher’s approach to graphic design is interdisciplinary. Opposed to Nazi authoritarianism, he is arrested in 1937; he is then drafted into the German army, and in 1945 he prefers to desert rather than to take part in World War II. He studies sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich in 1946. A year later he opens his own studio, Büro Aicher, in Ulm. In 1953, together with his wife Inge Scholl, he founds the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, one of the most important schools of design in the world, where he teaches visual communication from 1954 to 1966 and becomes the director from 1962 to 1964. He starts working for Braun (1954) Westdeutsche Landesbank, Blohm & Voss and Lufthansa (1962-1964). In 1972 he takes care of the Munich Olympics Games corporate identity designing a series of internationally comprehensible pictograms. In the same year he works for Bayrische Rückversicherung, in 1974 for Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen and from 1976 for Erco. In 1982 he moves to Rotis and in 1984 he founds the Institut für Analoge Studien. In addition, he designs numerous typefaces, like the Rotis font family (1989), which includes sans-serif, semi-sans, serif and semi-serif versions.


Aicher is an interesting example of how a designer can creatively develop his work using a limited vocabulary.

Peter Dormer

According to Aicher, only by using a precise series of standards is it possible to generate a consistent and unambiguous brand identity. An example is the Lufthansa project, a brand that obtains high visibility thanks to the use of few simple and systematically repeated elements, all gathered in a manual which describes each of their applications. This manual is based upon three essential elements: the pictographic logo that portrays a stylised crane in flight, with a sharp and essential silhouette, contained in a circle which stresses the incisiveness of the bird; the use of the typeface, Helvetica, sans-serif and minimal; the chromatic system, based on yellow (for the circle) and blue (for the crane and the circumference). Moreover, the logo and lettering are always present, essential and integral components of an approach that pursues uniformity for an unerring identification. With all the possible combinations of the basic elements, the manual defines the graphic landscape of Lufthansa: from the interior (and exterior) design of the planes to the photographic style of their ads, from the uniforms for the personnel to the packaging, right up to the smallest details like the sugar, salt and pepper sachets.

Source: AZ Project


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The book AZ Project Graphic Design, both in Italian and English, is the last step of the project, an “extra” respect its modifiable online counterpart. Created for the nostalgic and still numerous lovers of printed books (which provide better reading and can be kept with care), the book is supplemented by an essay on the history of graphic design by Dario Russo, which introduces the project with precise references to the 100 graphic designers and their seminal work.


Typographische Monatsblätter Research Archive

What an amazing site. An exhaustive research on the Typographische Monatsblätter (TM) focussing on the issues from 1960 till 1990.

The Typographische Monatsblätter was one of the most important journals to successfully disseminate the phenomenon of ‘Swiss typography’ to an international audience. With more than 70 years in existence, the journal witnessed significant moments in the history of typography and graphic design. Its contributors include some of the most influential designers. Although the issues before 1960 are extremely rich in revealing the development of modernist typography, the years 1960–90 correspond to a period of transition in which many factors such as technology, socio-political contexts and aesthetic ideologies, profoundly affected and transformed the fields of typography and graphic design. From this general turbulence, new forms emerged and new models were explicitly manifested. The examination of the Typographische Monatsblätter during these specific years enables a greater understanding of the development of late 20th century typography and graphic design.


Via Aisleone.

Typecaster for life

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A recent Thursday at 10:23 a.m.: In the basement of Arion Press, where they still print books the old-fashioned way, Lewis Mitchell slid open a box of parts used to change the font size on the Monotype casting machines he has maintained for 62 years.

“I thoroughly enjoy the sound of the machines turning, and seeing the type come out is a joy,” Mitchell said.

He can tell by the sound of the moving springs and levers if something is awry with his machines — a skill he said all good technicians should have. Four different owners have run the business since Mitchell walked through the doors at age 18, and he has had several opportunities to leave, including a scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that he declined. Now 80, Mitchell can’t imagine retiring from the job he loves so much.

When Mitchell started making this kind of type, it was really the only way to print things, and now he doesn’t know how many books he’s helped print over the decades. There were once type-casting operations in most major U.S. cities, but now the practice is almost extinct. There are only two companies left in the world that cast type for printing presses, and Arion is by far the largest.

Mitchell has four grown children and nine grandchildren, but he calls the 20 type-casting machines his “babies.” “I treat them with kindness. I don’t use a hammer on them or an oversized screwdriver.” The first machine, which started the company during 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, is still its best machine — proof that Mitchell’s methods work. “My dad taught me from square one if you going to do something, you’re going to do it right or you don’t do it.”

By San Francisco Chronicle.

Type Talk interview with Paul Rand and Mario Rampone


On Paul Rand site:
There are essentially two kinds of typography: The familiar kind for reading, and the other, simply for viewing, like a painting. Some say that readability is most important. There are really two important things about typography: readability and beauty; both are equally important. However, many readable typefaces are visually offensive. The design of a typeface, ugly or not, is only one aspect of the problem of readability. How a typeface is used is equally, if not more, important.

Michael Bierut interview

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Here is an interview with graphic designer Michael Bierut, where he talks about the evolution of type, the various covers of The Catcher in the Rye, the ugliness of ITC Garamond, and all sorts of other intriguing things.

Source: The Atlantic

John D. Berry on Typeradio

You probable know Typeradio, created by Underware, and it´s famous quote:

Type is speech on paper.
Typeradio is speech on type.”

Unfortunatelly i don´t have the time to hear it as often as I wanted…but today I heard the John D. Berry session, and I advise you to do the same.
(Don´t miss the nice jingle at the beggining 🙂
I specially liked the “confrontation” with David Carson‘s work, which I also appreciate very much. ( You can hear David Carson’s episodes also on typeradio)

It´s divided in three parts:

Part 1:
John always starts with questions, everything he does in his life he has come to sideways, he is interested in both words and visuals and does not make a distinction between the two. What good is it to be a designer if you don’t read?

Part 2:
John talks about collecting and accumulating, and how he organises his collections. If you are a collector of obscure literary magazines of the pacific north west from the late seventies and early eighties this could be your chance to increase your collection. John talks about being the editor of U&LC, and how content and design worked together perfectly.

John explains how he got involved with U&lc. What he hates about typography and what not to do. What he finds important when designing a magazine. His views on Massimo Vignelli and David Carson. Why not to use Helvetica numerals. What he considers most powerful the written or spoken word.

And who is John D. Berry? Let´s go to the facts:

John D. Berry is an editor/typographer who works both sides of the design/content divide. He is the former editor and publisher of U&lc (Upper and lower case) and of U&lc Online, and he edited the book Language Culture Type, on international type design, published for ATypI by Graphis. He has a deep and eclectic background in both writing/editing and typography; he has made a career for more than twenty-five years in Seattle, New York, and San Francisco as an editor and book designer. He writes and consults extensively on typography, and he has won numerous awards for his book designs.
He writes a regular column about type and design, dot-font, for
He lives in Seattle with the writer Eileen Gunn.

He never drew a typeface, but “maybe he will surprise himself someday”.

Looking for Mr. Gill


Exploring the legacy that Eric Gill, maverick genius of the Arts and Crafts Movement, has left to Ditchling, the early twentieth-century setting for his controversial experiments. This episode is Luke Holland’s personal journey to search for the controversial artist’s legacy on his own back door.
The BBC documentary film Looking for Mr Gill is now available to purchase on DVD.