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Quintetto Boccherini, Düsseldorf, 1961 poster by Atelier Müller‑Brockmann

Special occasion in the office today, because of the arrival of an original Quintetto Boccherini, Düsseldorf, 1961 poster from Josef Müller-Brockmann’s studio Atelier Müller-Brockmann, released from archives and made available to buy through Flat & Bound.

He has been 1 of our inspirations for starting in 2002 more than 20 years ago, and a huge underlying influence on our work and what we try to do for our clients. We have been reading his book Josef Müller‑Brockmann Pioneer of Swiss Graphic Design for more than 20 years.

He served in the Swiss army from 1939–1945, maybe this time and activity, had an impact on his philosophy. He was an originator and pioneer of using grid systems in graphic communication design and objective graphic communication. He sought to rid his communication with people from personal mindless subjectivity and self‑expression (art), but instead to offer clear, precise, objective, high-performance and effective design for people, to help people of society understand what is going on, and to function in it, aspects that are in over‑demand today.

In his early works he used illustration, although concluded some years after, that illustration was subjective and faulty because it represented the visions and ideas of the illustrator (the artist). Josef had a major problem with this ideology and then decided to use purely photography and clear uncluttered typography, using basically 1 typeface family Akzidenz-Grotesk for the rest of his career, saying that this was more objective, functional and effective. Although we know now that graphic communication is not that easy‑to‑define or know, and is not 100% valid. The ideas are certainly very interesting, especially in communication with the public, and represent a very early commercial history of consciously making graphic communication design accessible and usable for people, or even information design.

Quintetto Boccherini, Düsseldorf, 1961 poster by Atelier Müller‑Brockmann.

Image of the poster, has a green background, then a large yellow rectangle at the top, with the various details for the concert in bold black sans serif typography. The words ‘quintetto boccherini’ in larger bold letters

He died in 1996 (9th May 1914–30th August 1996) aged 82, but is very much not gone. The Information Design Journal was founded in 1979 and we often think, what would he have thought about his field objective graphic communication design and the Information Design Journal, and especially the 20 years, between 2000–2020, that was basically a revolution in what is sometimes called user-centred design or officially information design, or even user experience. It would have been a fascinating conversation, maybe he did know about the journal, although I have not found any records or evidence.

It must have been amazing, eye-catching (whatever that meant or means today?), and maybe shocking to see this poster in 1961, in the town centre of Düsseldorf, I am quite sure the public would have never seen anything like it, and may have even seen it as futuristic… or really thought, what is this? Maybe the public felt it was distasteful and we should call-in the authorities to have it removed, whatever the reaction was, they would have noticed it. Today’s graphic communication environment has become so wide and varied, that everything seems to mean not that much. David Sless (2004) mentions:

‘It is a matter of common experience in our time that we are all routinely confronted by more information than we can absorb. As a consequence, many of us have developed information avoidance strategies’.

We got it framed by Gadsby’s in Leicester, established around 1918, who are available to do framing throughout the U.K.

More posters are available from the archive until stocks run out. April 2023.

Josef Müller-Brockmann. Photograph dated 23rd April 1953 from Lars Müller Publishers (CC BY-SA 4.0, changes made).

Greyscale portrait photo of Josef Müller-Brockmann, showing his face and top of shoulders, with his left hand touching his mouth and slightly under his chin. Flat and Bound, with the words ‘FLAT & BOUND’ on 2 lines, in large black bold capital letters Gadsby’s logo, shows bright green script italic font

2 new typefaces and Typotheque’s new typeface specimen book

We were going to mention we have 2 new typefaces in the office, Arnhem Greek and Fedra Serif B, and now have reason to do so. Arnhem Greek by Type By is a good typeface for books and documents of many kinds, designed by Fred Smeijers from Belgium, then Fedra Serif B by Peter Biľak founder of Typotheque, is especially good for academic journals, and features an extensive character and symbol support, even for complex maths.

So to the reason of this news entry, indeed we did buy Fedra Serif B, however I got an SMS to say that something was coming in the post from Typotheque in the Netherlands, even though we did not order anything to come in the post, what could it be? A few days later Here: A World Poem, Typotheque’s latest typeface specimen book arrived, and we were more than delighted. It features 560 pages of typeface samples, specimens, essays, poems and much more. The cover is especially nice and the large text ‘HERE’ in capitals, is printed in a multi-coloured foiled ink or something?, that ripples and catches the light. The binding is also especially nice and precise. The book feels like 1 of the old Edition Suhrkamp Verlag books made and printed in the 1960s from Germany. Print has qualities that electronic information does not have. There are pros and cons to both printed and electronic communications… Although we still love print, even more so now because of the amount of digital pollution that is out there, and the majority of website users only use a webpage for a matter seconds, whereas a printed book is typically used for much longer lengths of time.

Thanks again Typotheque, they are doing some amazing stuff in typeface design, utilising technology and language coverage not easily found elsewhere. We really like the Manu Informal typeface from them, that is basically a handwritten typeface and not only supports Greek but has small capitals, very hard to find or maybe not available anywhere else. Bedankt (thank you in Dutch). February 2022.

Photograph from the top side-on of the front cover, shows blue cover with the word ‘HERE’ in large thin capital letters on the front A6 landscape compliments slip on light cream paper, with handwriting in blue ink which says ‘Hi Thomas, thank you very much for your order. I’m sending you our complete type catalogue. Do let me know when you would like to test any new fonts. Peter’ Typotheque square orange logo, square orange background with the letters ‘T P’ in large white capital letters on the 1st line, then below on the 2nd line, the letters ‘T Q’ in large white capital letters