Anyone that was working in the design industry back in the early 90’s is I’m sure familiar with Emigre. The font foundry, and magazine publisher that had a huge influence on the emerging digital design world. At one point I think I had almost every issue of Emigre, and at some point during a move I managed to lose them. thankfully Emigre has released a 512 page book that is sort of the best of Emigre magazine. “Emigre 70”.
I haven’t had time to read Emigre 70 from cover to cover. At 512 pages it’s going to take some time. I can honestly say that I doubt a book like this will never be written again.
There is no way to set the bar for this kind of content and experience. Nothing has come close to what Emigre offered in terms of a magazine focusing on design, aesthetics, music, and culture. Anyone that is gunning for Emigre is really missing the point. I’m not even sure how to write a review of this book, or where to start. This book is a compilation, a “best of” as the author Rudy Vanderlans states on the Emigre website.
While I turned through the pages, skimming the book I noticed that there are a couple chapters that begin to sort out the mindset when Emigre launched. Then as you dig deeper into the book, you see how the magazine evolves over time, and how sections reflect the thinking at that point. Like a linear timeline or visual history of realizing that ideas can be pushed in a new way, scaled and morphed. The book begins to show that there is more than vector shapes and the new digital tools of the early to mid 90’s gave designers freedom from having to rely on the status quo. They show how the computer allowed type design to be blown apart, how grid systems go crazy and come back. The book chronicles the rise and decline of a design pioneer, and a design culture barometer. You see that the beginning of the end starts when Emigre start selling pajamas. When pushing the supermarket chic color, type gets all their biggest critics to fawn over all the things that they complained about so feverishly in the past. It’s rather interesting to see how Emigre manages to rise again in response to mainstream design magazines become overwhelmingly bland and what were the hot design blogs fail to push things in new directions turning into nothing more than a new type of promotional system for the latest flavor of the month.
This is a big book to try comment on all that was covered, and like I said I haven’t read the entire thing. I have been bouncing around, lost in so much of the visual stimulus presented between the covers. I’m pretty excited about this though. The book is well made and just the section of quotes by designers influenced by Emigre makes it worth checking out. If you get a chance try and find a copy of this and give it a serious look.