Around ten years ago, designer Dominic Hofstede witnessed the induction of veteran practitioners Alistair Morrison and Geoff Digby into the Australian Graphic Design Association’s Hall of Fame. He realized he knew next to nothing about the pair; then discovered there were very few resources around to change that.
That’s how Australian graphic design archive Re:collectionwas born. “I began a fruitless search for information on their careers. There was a dearth of research relating to not just them, but Australian graphic design history in general,” recalls Hofstede, now the design director of MAUD Melbourne, and who previously ran his own studio for almost two decades.
What started as a personal blog has since grown into a resource featuring more than 200 works including books, posters, album covers, stamps, and other miscellany painstakingly sourced from personal collections, secondhand shops, and eBay. These are displayed alongside biographies and articles focusing on Aus [pronounced “Oz”] graphic design from the years 1960-1990.
At the mid-career retrospective of graphic designer Hanson Ho last month, visitors might have been surprised to see not a single piece of work he created in the past 16 years.
Instead, the gallery walls were adorned with a salmon-colored semi-circle, a grey square, and framed black rectangles, amongst other simple shapes. These are the building blocks of the elemental and modernist creations by the Singaporean designer, better known as the founder of H55 studio. When Ho thought about looking back at the output of the studio he founded in 1999, he decided to pay homage to the aesthetic fundamentals of his practice instead of staging a “meaningless” show-and-tell exhibition.
It’s a dream playground for lovers of graphic design: rare periodicals like Massimo Vignelli’s brand manual for the New York City subway, drawers of catalogues and brochures that Lou Dorfsman art directed for CBS, and close to everything—from logo sketches to magazines like U&lc—that Herb Lubalin designed in his lifetime.
What’s even better than seeing these design classics in real life? At the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography, you get to touch them all. Located at the basement of The Cooper Union’s newest shiny stainless steel complex is this archive of some of the most significant pieces of mid-century graphic design from the United States and Europe.