Rick Poynor Wants You to Do More Self-Initiated Projects

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Caught Rick Poynor (two o’s) last night, speaking about his book, Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design Since the Sixties and the exhibition it was based on, which you can catch at the Museum Fur Gestaltung, in Switzerland, until May 6.

Poynor flipped through slides from British icons like Monty Python, Barney Bubbles, Peter Saville and Paul Elliman with no notes, just the kind of informed commentary you can give when speaking about the things you’ve spend your entire life learning about. He might be the world’s number one design advocate; he even said that while putting together this show, he found that during many periods the design being produced in Great Britain was far superior to the art (yesssssss!). But mostly, he praised the self-initiated projects by places like Fuel and the Designers Republic and wondered why there weren’t more of them today. The designer-as-author (or even author-as-designer) changes the role of design, he said. “This is the future of the autonomous designer.”

Cal Arts design chair Louise Sandhaus introduced Poynor with the first of the evening’s two “Brokeback Mountain” references (don’t ask). Also spotted in the crowd were Ed Fella, Caryn Aono, and Jeff “Mr.” Keedy, who grilled Poynor about England’s design amnesia during the Q&A while his dog, Mr. Chips, slept below his chair.