V&A British Design Catalogue


Following our recent post about the publicity for the V&A’s British Design exhibition, we can now showcase some images of the catalogue. The landmark publication celebrates the best of British design from the 1948 ‘Austerity Games’ to the 2012 Olympics. Spanning twelve chapters in three sections, included are essays by leading curators and commentators, focus pieces on key practitioners and 350 examples of fashion and textiles, furniture, ceramics and glass, theatre design, graphics, photography, architecture, fine art and sculpture.

The challenge was to illustrate a roughly chronological progression, whilst expressing key notions of British design. This was achieved with typography. Each section of the book is set in a different typeface from three of the most important British typographers of the last Century: New Rail Alphabet by Margaret Calvert and Henrik Kubel; Verdana by Mathew Carter; and Bourgeois by Jonathan Barnbrook and Marcus Leis Allion. Front and back matter is set in Parable, a typeface designed by Christopher Burke and used in the typesetting of the eleventh Concise Oxford Dictionary.

For the design, inspiration was drawn from colour control patches that are used when artworks are professionally scanned or photographed for archive/print purposes. Key colours were extracted from every image featured in the book and used as the basis for the colour palate. The changing colours throughout the book also provide an abstract visual time line of tone, hue and vibrancy, which can be seen on the contents page above (second image).

Each section and chapter break use overlaid patterns from the V&A’s unique collection of textiles and prints.

The book can be bought from the V&A shop in hardback and paperback.