The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design compiles 500 artifacts into a reference book—er, box.
If you're old enough to remember 45rpm records, you'll probably recall the carrying case designed to take them to slumber or dance parties. If you don't remember, then think of a nicely decorated archival storage box at Hold Everything or the Container Store. Now picture the inside of the box containing more than 500 double-sided sheets of quality card stock on which images are printed in full color. The box, which weighs more than 10 pounds, also comes with removable cloth handles for easy transport.
This is what the latest encyclopedia of design history, The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design, looks like. Inside the box is the entire panoply of the world's graphic design icons reduced down to an essential 500 artifacts—posters, logos, books, type specimens, etc.—each reproduced on a separate 9 x 12 card, accompanied by a short historical text. A radical departure from traditional bookmaking, it pays tribute to the power of design both through its contents and, well, its design.
The Phaidon Graphic Design Archive by Phaidon's editors and designed by Stephan Müller, complements the 2009 Phaidon Design Classics books that covered industrial and product design. Graphic design, however, demanded a more radical interactive solution. "We had a lot of discussions on how to organize the content," explained Emilia Terragni, editorial director at Phaidon. "Someone said it was better chronologically, someone by designer, someone by category, someone by design title, and others even by who commissioned it. We then realized that it all depends on how and for what purpose you use it. And that with the cards format the reader would be able to organize in the way he/she wants to." So now the archive comes with 15 predetermined categories: Advertising, Book, Book cover, Film Graphics, Identity, Information Design, Logo, Magazine and Newspaper, Money, Packaging Graphics, Poster, Record and CD Cover, Symbol and Typeface, all indexed according to creator/designer, studio or client, and date. Within this structure, users are invited to create their own organization using blank divider cards that come with the box.