Spring 2008

Tour de flash [extract]

Style First

By Mieke Gerritzen
Birkhäuser, $39.95

I find it hard to resist Mieke Gerritzen’s books: Everyone Is a Designer!, Catalogue of Strategies, Mobile Minded. By putting ‘style first’, and resembling nothing else on the bookshelf, these publications clamour to be noticed. The discordant typography, the wild patterning, the layouts that look like a graphic report on the mental world of a teenager with an untreatable case of attention deficit disorder make it seem as though something interesting is going on. I’m simultaneously attracted and repelled . . .

. . . As a study in graphic translation and the ways that design influences reception, it is a tour de force, and in this respect, Style First is the most impressive of Gerritzen’s books to date. The detergent-powder vibrancy makes everything seem brighter, fresher, more deserving of attention and with a container this outrageously dynamic, how could the product fail to wash whiter? As in her previous books, though, style ends up swamping content . . .

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