Thursday, 4:13pm
28 June 2012

Northern lights shine brightly . . . but not quite enough (extract)

North by North: Scandinavian Graphic Design

Edited by Robert Klanten and Hendrick Hellige<br>Die Gestalten Verlag, &pound;34.99<br>

Graphic designers of a certain age will recall, in the early days of their careers, the scarcity of books devoted to graphic design. Like taxis in the rain, they were hard to find. Nowadays, we are deluged: there are publishers who exist solely to publish books on graphic design and bookshops dedicated solely to selling books on graphic design. Such books may not be clogging up the bestseller charts, but they are an established global publishing genre. One of the many consequences of this rise in status for graphic design books is that designers’ email inboxes groan under the weight of requests to contribute to the latest ‘exciting new book project’. Is there a branch of graphic design left that hasn’t had a book devoted to it? Has it all become meaningless? Two new books about Scandinavian design test the stamina.

As with most things Scandinavian, there is a quiet intelligence and chilly elegance about much of the work on display in these two volumes. But you search in vain for an identifiable contemporary Nordic graphic voice . . .