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Hochuli’s design for this volume is seemingly traditional, yet he has provided ample white space in the layout and used simple black and red diagrams to illustrate his points, making for an uncluttered book which is easy on the eyes.
Hochuli also argues that a book is something that has a function, and that typography should be placed in the service of the reader: “…the motto that ‘typography serves’ holds good for almost every book, where it serves with special modesty.
Modest, not uncaring: even the simplest typography can be decent, appropriate, yes even beautiful”.
The main theme of the essay remains the same: the ongoing rationalization of typography.
The author has taken Jürgen Habermas’s idea of “modernity as a continuing project” and applied it to the field of typography.
(In 1980, the German philosopher compared the goals of modernity to those of the Enlightenment: to use science, morality and art “for the enrichment of everyday life”.) As for his approach, Kinross makes clear that is “an attempt to criticize the existing model for the [history of typography] genre”.
It is a book with an emphasis on ideas — “the thought that accompanies making” is just as important as technology and production.Since its inception in 1980, Hyphen Press has built an impressive catalog: more often than not, the imprint’s titles are exercises in critical thinking and articulate design.Currently, Robin Kinross and his team of collaborators are working on the first English version of Gerrit Noordzij’s ), to be published in late September.So, what constitutes modernity, typographically speaking? For Kinross, it is “the discussion, description and ordering of practice, rather than mere practice and mere products”.For example, the book doesn’t start in the 1450s, with Gutenberg — the author makes the case that while printing was fundamental to the development of the modern world, “recognizably modern attitudes in typography only began to emerge some 250 years after its introduction”.These things may seem like trifles, but they indicate a seriousness of purpose, and they make the book into more than just the essay its author intended — it is a compact, useful reference work.Many of the subjects presented here could be the starting point for further studies.(I am aware of at least one current research project that touches upon similar subject matter, although it was not inspired by this book.) Respect for the Reader These books are well worth getting hold of — Hochuli’s is an exemplary manual which contains some clear-headed thinking about the practice of book design.Kinross’s presents a history of typography that is rich in ideas and precise, pithy arguments.The book opens with a first-rate example of Hochuli’s rigorous approach: in “Book design as a school of thought”, he discusses the symmetry inherent in the form of the book, the distinction between function and functionalism in book typography, and the perils of forcing ideologies upon design systems.The second, more practical section consists of short texts about designing various types of books.