Updatings of january
Morgan’s designs for Phillips de Pury answer this question well; his subtle catalogue design gives the auction house a critical edge in a difficult marketplace.
Are all these art gallery signs really necessary when the reception desk and shop are perfectly visible and readable without superfluous typography?
Morgan sees the two sides as completely complementary, both in his work as a graphic designer, and in his approach to teaching.
‘There was a period when I taught at Central Saint Martins (CSM) and the University of Reading at the same time, and I saw my role and position as opposites.
He once took a graphic design vow of chastity (‘The designer must not be credited’), yet his work is wide-ranging and polymorphous, adding dignity to books and business cards, bringing gravitas to criticism in academic journals and fine art captions.
For those of us immersed in a world of unsubtle, overwrought design, Morgan’s work can be so subtle and understated that it catches you out. It’s not just the typography that makes this big book so inviting, it’s the way the images have been paced and ordered to support the authors’ ideas and intentions.
The current core team comprises: Adrien Vasquez, born Grenoble, France Fred Birdsall, born London, UKØystein Arbo, born Oslo, Norway David Vallance, born Strasbourg, France We are unable to reply to all emails.
For John Morgan, both the typographic detailing and the grand gestures are essential to each project’s unique ‘atmosphere’. He has set poetry in granite and written a brand book (for David Chipperfield Architects) that begins: ‘The first guideline is to work with a good designer.’ He designs books that are beautiful and desirable objects, good to hold and own and use, yet most of his time is spent thinking about the meaning of words and of characters and the spaces in between.But you respond to the environment and see what’s needed.The CSM students were well looked after in grand gestures, so I taught detailed telephone directory layout. ) “atmosphere”, so I pointed the students in that direction. ‘I like students to be able to produce the detail of Jan Tschichold or Hans Schmoller [Tschichold’s successor at Penguin] combined with the overview of books or posters by [German artists] Martin Kippenberger or Hans-Peter Feldmann.’ Morgan says he has learnt much from working with architects, particularly Chipperfield, and the scale at which they operate: ‘For large-scale projects such as signage or identities where you are working with many people, you have to accept a degree of what David Chipperfield would call “critical compliance”.Since 2016 John has been Professor of Entwurf, Typografie and Buchkunst at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.See the studio profile ‘Devil in the detail’ in Eye magazine for an introductory text about the practice.