It began by Tony and Adrian talking about their collective design backgrounds, Tony Brook the self admitted Graphic Design addict, formally of Spin where he formed his interest in making books after a realisation that there needed to be a new direction. He kindly talked through the first few books they made, The highlight for me being the 'Logo' book which has been a regular source of inspiration over many projects at college. Adrian Saughnessy then gave us a bit of back ground of how he spent 15 years (not 50 years) at Intro, and showed us many examples of some of the work done for music labels and artists, which was great as I was familiar with almost all of it but never realised spin had been behind certain pieces. He then went on to talk about the first produced book they made which was a sampler series of 3 which was followed by "How to be a Graphic Designer, without loosing your soul" He described the reason behind this book as wanting to make a book that tells you about all the non-design things that happen to designers, and not sugar coat it. He also spoke heavily about the frustration with the amount the publisher restricts the designer, which echoed what Tony had said aswell. I suppose it reached a point for both designers that they felt they had the capability to become publishers and once they met in a pub it seemed they followed the same desire and from that Unit Editions was born.
The explanation of what they do was as follows "imagine each book cover is a pixel which acts as an addition to a bigger picture" the idea that all their work will add to something bigger and better. They set themselves a series of frank questions when setting up their publishing company, ones which some designers would choose to ignore, one which stuck out was 'Why are you setting up a publishing company when the development in technology and the vastness of the internet allows people instant access to online books?', They did a great deal of research into the lifespan of a modern publishing company and asked a list of profound designers whether they still regard books as the necessity they once were, which came back with brilliant results as one example that made me smile was the idea that you can search for ages on the net and find some really interesting stuff but once you exit that page the site is almost vanished from memory, whereas a book is forever there.
Neither Adrian or Tony are disillusioned with the inevitability that digital technology is becoming ever more popular and have acknowledged that their company will form a hybrid of fantastic print and online copy in the future. 'Studio Culture' is the first book that they have published and was fast selling online before it had finished printing! What has been really interesting throughout this talk is actually finding out the process of publishing and the amount it actually cost. What was frightening was to learn that if a copy of their book is bought on the internet from any leading provider that 50% of that cost will go to the distributer and a further 25% gets swallowed up by the seller, leaving them with just a 25% share compared to buying directly off their website where they receive 100% this has never really occured to me when buying independent books but is something once I am no longer a poor student I will make an effort to avoid.
Generally I found the lecture really interesting I got to see lots of work that both Adrian and Tony like which is always a plus along side some wonderful work of their own and a definite insight into an area I am not too familiar with. As I am continually thinking of what to do my dissertation on next year the idea of researching the digital impact on a certain area of design (such as publishing) seems something I could really engage in and enjoy.