Thursday, 18 March 2010

St. Gallen book design - Evening talk.

When I was looking into events at the St. Bride library i noticed a talk was being held in the evening about the book design exhibition, which i thought would be really interesting to attend. I have never been to a talk about an exhibition before so i thought this was a great opportunity. The talk was held by 3 publishers Roland Fruh, Richard Hollis and Robin Kinross each talking for about 20 minutes each.

Roland Fruh:

Roland Fruh mainly talked about Rudolf Hostettler, an infamous typographer and print maker who was the co-editor of SGM a typographic magazine. Within the magazine was a dispute for years between Max Bill and Jan Tschichold about the difference between traditional design and new typography. Fruh talked largely about the articles written from both sides of the argument highlighting examples and influences. He talked alot about the importance of continual debate within Graphics and Design and how design is always evolving through time and with added technology.
I wrote down a quote he read out that i thought was really interesting.

"with every thesis someone believes himself to be telling the truth; he only notices that is merely half of the truth when he meets the other half of the thesis"

He also highlighted some familiar design magazines such as Eye, CR, Issue etc that he said generate a form of debate yet are formed by careful editing and many of them lack controversy stating "they all have something, but they all lack something".

Richard Hollis

I was really excited to hear Richard Hollis speak as I own a few of his books and find he explains things in a really understandable way. He began talking about Hostettler similarly to Roman Fruh, and about the influence English typography had on him and his remarkable understanding of Graphic culture. Hollis talked about the intense precision that the Swiss aplied to their books, the sensitivity they had for the content of the book paired with the design. and the careful use of typography that ran throughout. Hollis talked through all the names that shaped The International Typographic Style, from Josef Muller-Brockmann who was the creator of the grid and formed the Swiss style to Paul Klee who was a typical 'Basel designer' who very much worked Asymmetrically and in block type. He went on to talk over the two types of design in Switzerland with symmetry linked to book design and traditional symmetrical layouts and Asymmetry linked to modernist typography and advertising.
He finished by highlighting the pleasure in the exhibition of being able to look, feel and read the books, he talked about the how beautiful the books were and how beautifully they had been made. and a rare treat to hold them.

Robin Kinross

The final speaker wrapped up the night by briefly talking about the achievements of all 3 speakers and the importance of their role as publishers to understand the depth of the St.Gallen book collection. He spoke mainly about Switzerland as a country and the character it has explaining that no single city is Switzerland, that each city has its own unique character and history and acts individually.

I am really pleased i attended the talk as it gave me a greater understanding about not only Swiss design but some important factors that relate to modern day design practices aswell. I was able to buy a copy of 'Ultrabold' which is the quarterly journal of the library which covers talks, exhibitions and literature held there.

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