The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design: We’ve got our hands on it!

A new innovation in design archive reference guide

Through the wonder of Big Bad Wolf Bandung, we finally got to adopt The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design. This has been such a long-awaited moment for us, and here’s why.

The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design by the Phaidon Press is the antithesis of the pandora box. You open it and, instead of unforeseen problems, you’ll find a compilation of dazzling antiquity; centuries of the best graphic design classics originating from as far as the 15th-century.

In a YouTube Video, Phaidon Editorial Director Emilia Terragni shares the idea behind the book-in-a-box. The goal of this project was to build an archive of graphics for inspiration. Through a rigorous process of ideation, collection of samples, and selection, the boxed set came into being with 500 iconic graphic designs in cards sized 315 x 250 mm. Each card has main and secondary images as well as information about the works.

How it came about

The archive spoils us with graphic designs that go beyond the traditional graphic design reference guide. It may even be an understatement to say that we are spoiled because the way the content is curated is just astounding. Some of the examples include graphic designs for flags, money, disc covers, etc. It basically has many things that we interact with in the real world every day.

The people behind the box set is a team of contributors that included academics, historians, writers, and designers. Together, they collect and select designs from around the globe. According to Terragni, they want something that is manageable and understandable. With this in mind, the idea of making the archive as cards in a box instead of a book was born. This way, we can all make modifications to the archive as we see fit. For instance, we can arrange the cards chronologically, alphabetically, by subject, or by designer. The dividers provided in the box are also helpful when it comes to organizing and exploring the cards in the box.

Getting the cards to work

Terragni believes that The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design serves many functions. In addition to being a reference guide for design professionals and enthusiasts, the cards are always nice to use for exhibitions, be it a thematic or chronological exhibition. Additionally, the set could be a fantastic tool for schools where you can have a monographic exhibition or special exhibition (any kind of exhibition, really) to tell the history of graphic design.

When it comes to us, though, we are just really excited to surround ourselves with notable design legacy. It’s amazing to see how graphic design progress as a very powerful tool of modern human communication throughout history. In addition to being such a priceless addition to our library, the archive allows us to enjoy an astonishing time-capsule of graphic designs along with their cultural context that gives them life.