Monday, February 2, 2009

The Dark Ages of Type and the Revitalization

With the advent of the machine type setting came mass communication. This changed the world dramatically. Various type faces were produced and expressive type became popular. There were "battles in the streets" with poster designs using large type to dominate others. Seeing the possibilities of type bore an almost out of control design style, which was not much of a style at all. It was unruly and without any real design quality. Chromolithography, using lithographic stones to print component colors gave more illustrators jobs and illustrations started to dominate the mass media. Commerce changed the form of type which seemed to strip it of it's historical evolution. Soon advertising agencies emerged and the growth of magazines flourished. Political cartooning was invented as well as the greeting card. While type and design seemed to get out of control, there was finally a period of reflection where William Morris influenced a stepping back to rethink the fundamentals of design.
It seemed to take a lot of bad design to get back to a design structure that is expressive and well thought out. This is indicative of our culture's general tendancy to exploit our resources before realizing it's value. The most interesting part for me was having to go through a really low point in design before the happy turn it takes in really valuing the handmade or what we refer to as 'organic' style today.

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