Cover Stories: Thoughtfulness in design (11 August 2017)
by Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) Let’s delve into great media design from South Africa and around the world:
- Dada-data — online
- Dot Zero #2 — iconic
- Frankie — print
- iJusi — print
- Wired — print
- Zig Zag — print
Zig Zag (South Africa), #41.6, August/September 2017
As an establishment in the South African surfing community, one would think that the recent redesign of Zig Zag’s masthead could have gone pear-shaped. But it didn’t. The updated logo, accompanied by a major layout refresh, has made the magazine look a great deal more contemporary. The rustically rendered lettering, superimposed over an energetic action shot, compliments the theme of the issue: Made in Africa. Imbuing a sense of rawness and angst reminiscent of the doodles that teenagers carve into their classroom desks in school, the textured, almost juvenile use of typography is effective, simultaneously suggesting the vibrating pulse of the continent and the ocean, and the free-spirited veneer of surf culture.
Wired (US), August 2017
Wired has never been shy to experiment with the left-inclined side of its editorial design sensibility. The latest issue is an example of its culture and its sophisticated design palate, proving that formalism can be contemporary and speak experimentalism. With its orthodox use of typography and colour blocking, contrasted with glitch-inspired abstract forms indicative of the digital age, this cover reminds one of the classic album by British electronic music producers, Autechre, titled “Tri Repitae”. Aside from the music production that set the bar for the time, the 1995 album is famous for its cover designed by Designers Republic, which uses a similar marriage of High-Modernism and Post-Modernism set forth in this month’s issue of Wired.
iJusi (South Africa), iZuma issue, #31
Aptly referencing George Lois’ infamous Mohammed Ali cover for Esquire in 1968, the cover for the 31st issue of independent/niche iJusi magazine is a witty commentary on the current sociopolitical state of South Africa and the man at the helm of it all. From a graphic-design perspective, iJusi is undoubtedly an institution in SA; it’s documented an important visual record of what it means to be African over the past two decades since independence.
Note: Shane de Lange worked on this issue of iJusi.
Frankie (Australia), #78, July/August 2017
Australian Fashion magazine, Frankie, is noted for its tasteful, well art-directed covers. Issue #78 is a testament to the refined curatorial sensibility of the editor’s eye, displaying an illustration that is simultaneously child-like and sophisticated. A more-innocent and naïve version of the avant-garde aesthetic propagated by the Fauves in Europe during the early 20th century, this cover illustration is supported by the simple and uncluttered layout, with a masthead that is unobtrusive, effectively framing the vibrancy of colour, gestural mark-making and expressive ability of the artist. Most importantly, it stays true to Frankie’s tone of voice.
Dada-data is an online publication celebrating the centenary of the historically influential Dada movement. Embracing the interactivity that the internet brings to the field of editorial design, this publication is a living document, remaining loyal to the conceptual mechanisms and anti-art tactics that were used by the original Dadaists.
The site allows one to participate in Dada-hacktions (staying true to the notion of automatism and the happenings that Dada arguably helped to invent), and to visit Dada-depots to learn about the history of the movement. The bold use of typography, subdued greyscale visuals, and parallax motion of the landing page all play into the zeitgeist of the inter-war, avant-garde period during the early 20th century in Europe.
A Dada tone is instantly struck by the landing page, a homage to the famous 1922 poster collaboration between Theo van Doesburg and Kurt Schwitters — a poster titled “Kleine Dada Soirée” (used during their tour of Holland and their so-called “Dada Campaign”).
Dot Zero #2, 1966
Dot Zero was a quarterly produced by Unimark International, the firm where iconic Modernist designer, Massimo Vignelli, started out. Five issues were printed between 1966 and 1968, with the second cover arguably being the most experimental for its time.
The magazine dealt with the overall rubric of visual communication, effectively mapping what we now see to be normal forms of communication in the media. Modernist to the nth degree, the highly formal — almost Minimalist — use of black-on-black is still considered sexy today, exhibited by the cover to the new single by Oneohtrix Point Never, titled “Leaving the Park”, which clearly uses the same visual language that Vignelli contributed to over 50 years ago.
Shane de Lange (@shanenilfunct) is a designer, writer, and educator currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, working in the fields of communication design and digital media. He works from Gilgamesh, a small design studio, and is a senior lecturer in graphic design at Vega School in Cape Town. Connect on Pinterest and Instagram.
Cover Stories, formerly MagLove, is a regular slot deconstructing media cover design, both past and present.