Review: A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days – produced by Studio 3 and Gestalten – is an illustrated journey of one boy and his grandfather as they maneuver through the history of graphic design.

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days
Hardcover: 204 pages
Publisher: Gestalten

If you’ve gone through texts on history – any sort of history at all – you’ll notice that it’s drab and dry. What A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days seeks to achieve is a new way of storytelling. One that engages and interests readers through its full-page illustrations, dialogues and facts littered throughout the 204-page book.

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

The book is linear in fashion – going back in time and re-tracing history made in the field of graphic design from 1776 to 1994. In between, the young boy (and his grandfather) steps into various studios of designers and inventors who has made a mark in the field. Snippets of info and narrative text by the grandfather accompanies each spread, along with clean visuals and an interesting play with two-color illustrations for each section.

While I do appreciate the efforts of the studio, I thought that the book needed a lot more editing – in terms of flow and structure. But most ironically, I thought that the style of the book would have made for an interesting game instead of its current book form. It’s linearity would be a great idea for gamification aspects, and if that were to happen, it would have a better shot of achieving its goal of engaging its reader/audience.

While the aesthetics of the book is pleasing throughout, the primary problem I have with it is that there are too many questions left unanswered, and the flow is a little too disruptive for my tastes. Each spread almost always ask a question, presumably to make you look up the answer.

But here’s the thing – they didn’t supply the answers for most of them.

It’s not available in a corner in fine print, upside down.
It’s not at the back of the book, with a lead to the answers written near the question.

I have to find it myself, online, and that’s where my frustration begins. If I were to open the book in front of the computer and search for an answer, I might do so if I’m interested enough. But I may not be in front of a computer all the time (especially not when I’m reading a book!) Take this frustration and multiply it throughout the pages and you’ll see what I mean.

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

And that’s when the format of the book unveils its limitations, especially given its context and ambition. Granted, the heft of the illustrations and the content must have taken an incredible amount of time and effort, which is commendable. But ultimately I wished that the book could be so much more clearer in its objectives (is this an informative book, or is it meant for a classroom?) and that it could be simpler (some of the dialogues are a little forced, and that there are too many things all over each spread).

The bright side though, is that if hunting down answers makes your skin tingle, then you might just find A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days a breath of fresh air from text-heavy history books on graphic design.

You can purchase the book over at Amazon.

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Happy weekend everyone! I’ll see you back here on Monday! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Review: A History of Graphic Design for Rainy Days

  1. Hei!
    I have this book (got it free from my paper supplier) its made by norwegian students at the third year of a graphic design school here in Oslo. I really coudnt manage to read it all the way through, it is funny to look at but like you say, it lacks a bit of flow. But it must have been a LOT of work for these students, all those vector illustrations!

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