4 November 2009
Early adopter: Desmond Jeffery
St Bride hails the ‘non-designer’ who’s an unsung hero of British Modernism
The most exciting graphic design exhibition I’ve seen in London recently is at the St Bride Library, writes Simon Esterson. But its subject would never have admitted to being a designer.
‘Late Letterpress: The Work of Desmond Jeffery’ features the output of a jobbing letterpress printer based in London and Suffolk in the 1950s and 60s. Although Jeffery hated being called a designer (he was a printer who knew how to lay out), he produced Modernist work that few English designers of the period could better.
Above: catalogue for the Partisan coffee-house in London, 1959. Top: Red Paper, 1968.
Most of his work was hand-set in metal type. Jeffery was careful in his choice of typefaces: he was one of the first people in Britain to import sans-serif fonts such as Akzidenz Grotesque from the European typefounders.
Above: poster, 1959.
He had an eclectic range of clients, from art galleries to the brewer Greene King and radical political organisations.
‘Late Letterpress: The Work of Desmond Jeffery’ is at St Bride Library, Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8EE, until 13 November 2009.
Eye is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. For a taste of the printed magazine, try Eye before you buy.