Autumn 1999

A quiet little blockbuster

Structural Package Designs

Haresh Pathak; The Pepin Press, £9.95

Amid the heavyweight competition, this 150mm square block charms through a directness of purpose and unassuming form. Other than a few supplementary sections, each page describes a unique packaging form by single flat template diagram, three-dimensional line drawing, and title. More Zen in its simplicity than the “minimalism” affected by current arts publishing, this book demonstrates the way a good idea designs itself. It would be nice to imagine this kind of publication replacing the ubiquitous hardback annuals, awards and other catalogues of “inspiration” in classrooms and studios as a true reference work, demonstrating how to articulate an idea without the usual obscuring veneer of style.
The lessons are many: the clarity of the illustrations; the no-nonsense three-paragraph introduction repeated in seven languages; the genuinely useful appendices (details such as “typical limit for printing”); the thriftiness of format and colour that ensure its bargain price. The book’s general portrayal of the potential in design recalls the more specifically typographic tour-de-force handbooks of Bosshard (Technische Grundlagen zur Satzherstellung) and Gerstner (Kompendium fur Alphabeten). These books also share symbiosis of form and content, providing a sense that the ideas arrived as fully formed objects: it is difficult to imagine them existing in any other way.
As a current surprise arts bookshop bestseller, this antidote to coffee-table fatigue is well positioned to promote intelligent design quietly.

Stuart Bailey, designer, Arnhem

Read the full version in Eye no. 33 vol. 9, 1999

Eye is the world’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 Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.