I’m sure a lot of designers of my age – what do they call us now, 'Xennials', or another cringe-worthy term – will have fond memories of pilfering copies of Graphis Annuals from their University library or furiously scouring through their boss' copies the night before a presentation, in the hope of uncovering some useful form of 'inspiration' that could be subtly ‘appropriated’.
For me, they felt like a time capsule, transporting the reader back to an age of minimalism, bold stark colour palettes and strong sans serif typography, which were, of course, characteristics of the International style. From 1952 to 1986, the Swiss design powerhouse Graphis published a yearly volume under the title 'Graphis Annual', presenting a survey of graphic design work from the past year. Taken together, these 35 volumes highlight some of the most impressive and innovative design work that was being done in advertising and design globally, during that period.
Like with many books that used to be incredibly rare, the Graphis Annuals have been reproduced, in a way, via 'Graphis Annual: The Essential 1952-1986'. Edited by idPure magazine editor in chief Thierry D. Hausermann, this book culls the strongest and most surprising examples of graphic-design prowess from the series' three-decade-plus run.
The 400 images, half black and white, half colour and all bold and lively – are presented in fantastic double-page spreads that have been reproduced directly from the original publications. These selections were made with an eye toward illuminating themes that have already experienced revivals in recent years and as a result the visual language of this volume feels especially current and fresh.
Graphis Annual is beautifully bound, an exquisite design object in and of itself. It constitutes an important addition to the shelf of any designer and lovers of this golden age of graphic innovation.