You might have seen, like I did, the sound bites publicising Unit Editions recent tome FHK Henrion: The Complete Designer and wondered if they’d got the right chap –
“The designer FHK Henrion has no equal in British graphic design history. No UK designer – then or now – can match his sheer depth of accomplishments and range of abilities.”
– Quite a claim, but one you learn is totally justified as you slowly soak in the wealth of information provided by Adrian Shaughnessy in the substantial front section of this monograph. Henrion surely is the most underrated graphic designer of the latter part of the 20th century! If you don’t believe me, read the book – it is only through reading it I realise just how little I knew about FHK and his incredible life. Not only are Unit Editions putting out some incredible books, they’re offering an education few other publishers or even educational courses can match. Thanks to titles such as this, unsung masters like Henrion and Schrofer might now rightly feature in ‘all-time-greats’ roll-calls alongside the more familiar names of Rand, Bass, Vignelli, Aicher, Olins, Lubalin, Dorfsman, Crouwel, Brownjohn, Fletcher etc..
Steven Heller describes the book as “a tour de force of design, writing and editing, representing the designer as entrepreneur principle at its best” and in the same interview on Printmag.com Shaughnessy explains that it took about 14 months of solid work to complete – and it shows (Check out that interview). The effort that goes into researching and cataloguing a body of work such as Henrion’s is huge, but it makes for a book you will want to return to again and again. Much of the content feels very contemporary / modern, a reflection of the quality and timelessness of FHK’s output. Just as the UE Herb Lubalin title of last summer was my pick of the year (previewed here) this edges it for me in 2013. The production values are of course predictably extravagant – the 544 page hardback housed in a foiled slipcase, complete with protected corners – feels as good in your hands as it looks on the shelf.
If the FHK title is beyond your budget however there’s still more good news from Unit Editions… The huge Lubalin monograph proved so popular it totally sold out in a matter of months, but it has just been reissued in a new compact format, at less than half the price of the original! If there is a designer in your life who wasn’t fortunate enough to get the oversized version (or a space on your bookshelf), this is not a book to miss out on. All book orders made on the Unit Editions website before Friday 20 December will include a Christmas gift: a free copy of Projekt: The Polish journal for art and design. With at least 6 new titles on the cards for 2014, including one I know you’re all going to go crazy for, it looks like things (thankfully) show no signs of slowing down at UE.