I recently discovered that the full run of legendary graphic design magazine Emigre is now available online at the Letterform Archive. This brought back a lot of memories. Browsing the back issues gave me the same jolt of inspiration as when I first discovered Emigre and the designers featured in its pages.
When I was a student I couldn’t afford to buy either Emigre or any of the other cutting edge magazines that had to be imported from the US. And so I would browse whatever was available at either Zwemmer’s at London’s Charing Cross Road and Athenaeum News Centre at the Spui in Amsterdam. I have to confess that I never actually read any of the articles, I merely admired the page layouts, which I still do.
It’s interesting to notice that Emigre actually started out in the 1980s as a cut and paste gonzo literary magazine and only later became one of the hotbeds of deconstruction in graphic design. The issues from the early and mid 90s, which is when I discovered the magazine, are still the ones that I like best and that stand out as landmarks in graphic design. In the spirit of deconstruction Rudy Vanderlans, Zuzana Licko and their co-designers questioned every design and typography assumption while exploring the limits of the software that made it all possible.
It’s a shame that this kind of experimentation is now largely a thing of the past. Perhaps now that the back issues are available online new generations of designers can be inspired by the sense of freedom that springs from these pages.