Emigre, the 20-year old type

Emigre, the 20-year old type design company, has just released its latest magazine/book, called, of all things, Rant. It’s a pretty important issue, in my humble opine, as it lays out what is at stake in the future of graphic design. With a number of strong contributors, from Andrew Blauvelt to Shawn Wolfe, the issue re-focuses its attention on the critica issues related to design. Rudy VanderLans, owner of Emigre, says in the introduction that the return to Helvetica usage and what I call the “plain-ification” of design has meant the dumbing down of graphics and graphic artists.
For me, simple and simplified design is extremely difficult — and is worth attaining at all costs, but not at the true expense of meaning, beauty, or discovery. The plain-ification that so many artists and designers are employing right now is partly the fault of folks like Jacob Nielsen, who asks of us to make sure that form is always over function. But it’s also designers who have caught the unfortunate vanilla virus whose DNA reads A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, A, B. Anyway, Rant does a better job of ranting than I do. Importantly, it asks where the analytical voices of design currently exist. I think they’re surely around but perhaps no one really cares to hear them in this crazy market.