Summer 2007

Editorial Eye 64

There’s nothing like working on a quarterly magazine for giving one an acute sense of the passage of time. At least one season goes by while a feature commission comes to fruition, and it is not unusual for ideas hatched in the depths of winter to emerge blinking on to the newsstands in the blaze of summer. But compared to the speed with which we can change content on the Eye website, the pace is something to be savoured: the ‘slow food’ movement has nothing on ‘slow print’. The tools we all use, whether designers, writers or musicians, can fool us into thinking that life is speeding up, so that we don’t take enough time to think: witness the ill-advised emails and bad-tempered blog posts that plague cyberspace. And if it takes less time to buy a book or poster online, shouldn’t we take advantage of that to spend more time reading or looking?

Type design is a field that has been revolutionised by technology, yet the production of a new family still takes time; its implementation and understanding takes longer. The extended character sets now available (and advisable) make designing a new typeface an ever-longer odyssey. However the idea to make this issue a ‘typography special’ was a quick decision, and the great contents have given us an excuse to take a few liberties with the structure and design. Approximately the first half of the magazine (the biggest for years) is taken up with articles to do with type and lettering, while the second half contains our usual mix of articles about design and visual culture.

‘Garage band’ is a timely look at Le Gun, a loose collective of young illustrators and designers, while ‘Roadshows and rickshaws’ describes some illustration-based campaigns for the BBC World Service in rural India. This project was art directed by Rathna Ramanathan, whose work I first encountered at a design conference in Italy – a visit prompted by a New Year’s resolution to escape the restrictive twin comfort zones of computer monitor and office chair more often. GTF's Paul Neale often talks about the importance of getting away from the Mac; the fruits of this attitude are obvious in his book about Tord Boontje (see ‘Pin-sharp process’ and the inside back cover).

‘An online drift’ is a critique of contemporary websites in the company of five opinionated Eye contributors. In a forceful Agenda piece, William Owen argues that the emerging ‘social media’ sites herald a fundamental change in design practice; that designers can no longer hide in their studios to devise the one ‘grand solution’.

As for our Typography Special, what a treat it’s been to work on such a variety of material, from Rosalie Gascoigne’s ‘stammering poetry’ to Theo Ballmer’s cool Bauhaus precision. We juxtapose Andrea Tinnes’ exuberant type families with Johannes Bergerhausen’s online mission (decodeunicode.org) to teach the world to Unicode . . . from an electric bell to a Yech; from a Ha to a smart quote. I met Johannes several years ago, when the project was a gleam in his eye, so it is heartening to see the site growing as an international resource for designers, linguists, typographers – in fact anyone with an interest in communication. Andrea will be familiar from her brief appearance in Eye 58. Here, Jan Middendorp reveals the scope of her design practice, which is varied and eclectic, yet rooted in a thoroughly contemporary approach to typeface design.

We are already (slowly) assembling material for next year’s type special, which will be even bigger, but the quarterly clock is ticking: watch out for our second image portfolio, entitled ‘The next thing you know . . .’ in the autumn. JLW

<em>Eye</em> is the world&rsquo;s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the <a href="http://bit.ly/Eyeshop" target="_blank">Eye shop</a>, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. You can see what <em>Eye</em> 84 looks like at <a href="http://eyem.ag/EBYB84V" target="_blank">Eye before You Buy</a> on Vimeo.

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