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Graphic design and architecture

Adrian Shaughnessy

The link between architecture and graphic design is often discussed: designers tend to like architecture, and most architects claim to have an instinctive interest in graphics. But how much great work does this mutual admiration society really produce?

The coming together of graphic design and architecture means we get some great posters for lectures by architects; the occasional bit of exemplary signage; a few beautifully designed architecture books; the odd identity for a hot architectural practice; and some interesting experiments into the ways in which architects are incorporating digital technology into their buildings.

The Architectural Review, number 912, February 1973

The Architectural Review, number 897, November 1971

Actually, the combining of architecture and graphic design is the subject of the next book from Unit Editions. More details soon. But you can’t help thinking that the two disciplines could do more to combine their skills.

Above are some beautiful covers for the Architectural Review. These three were designed by the late British designer Philip Thompson who designed Penguin covers and co-wrote one of the best books on graphic design, Art Without Boundaries: 1950-70.

Art Without Boundaries: 1950-70

This rare book is my desert island design book. It was one of the founding texts of Tomato, and when I wrote about it in Eye magazine (sorry no link) shortly before Philip Thompson died, I received a delightful handwritten letter from him. He also wrote to Eye about the article. You can read his letter here.


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