The art of the present generation, both fine and applied, is dominated by the desire to find new forms and ideas. This is not the result of experiment: it expresses a reaction against tradition and established conventions. A revolution can be said to have taken place in both method and approach. Applied art, as it has been practised during the past half century, has undergone a decisive change, a change which is clearly reflected in these pages where modern designs appear side by side with purely decorative work. The present publication is exclusively concerned with designs which are not in the first place dictated by considerations of industrial psychology, or intended to be clever, but which are undeniably contemporary in their content. What is new in this art is its almost mathematical clarity. Though full of striking detail, it relies for effect not upon ornament but on the balance and tension of form and colour. The style, which in a state of continual flux, is the direct product of the theme or the industrial subject. There are no hard and fast rules for this kind of art. Every designer whose name is mentioned or whose work is reproduced in these pages, is controlled by his relation to his patron and the object of his task. He attempts to go to the root of the subject, to achieve a formal intensification of the theme which, without distorting it, will reveal its possibilities to the best advantage.
This journal was the outcome of discussions and meeting which had been going on for years between four designers who shared the same outlook. They examined work from all over the world which was in their opinion valid, judging it according to a quality of inevitability which cannot be acquired though it can be grasped by the intellect. they do not prize modernity for its own sake or applaud boldness and originality at all costs, but they value the attempt at a solution by constructive methods, not an illusory solution based on emotional, representational effects. From preoccupation with problems such as this there arose the need for a publication which would not only enable the editors to make rapid contact with work being done elsewhere, but would help to promote general awareness. The editors felt that the time had come for them to emerge from the seclusion of study and workshop to make a collection of work showing significant trends and gradually to reproduce that work in a periodical for examination and discussion. The editors are conscious that it would be unjust to limit themselves to the sphere of design in their analysis, and that kindred subjects demand at least a mention and should be examined in relation to their influence on the designers profession. The modern designer is no longer the servant of industry, no longer an advertising draughtsman or an original poster artist: he acts entirely independently, planning and creating the whole work, informing it with the full weight of his personality so that very often his design determines the actual form of the product with which he has been dealing. He has learned from experience and continual practice how to select and treat those attributes which are most sympathetic to him and which also serve the purpose of industry. He is fully responsible for his work; he identifies himself with it and endows it will all the force of which his creative imagination is capable.
The aims of the editors and the strictly objective principles upon which their selection is based become apparent in the first number of this journal. The editors would like to stress the fact that the purpose of this opening number is to define their policy. The importance of design is examined from the angle of both art and industry but the editors are not content with that alone: they not wish to exhibit certain aspects of design, they wish to stimulate discussion, to offer explanations, to give instruction and example. New Graphic Design cannot take the place of talent and training but it is intended to supply a current source of information for all who are interested in design today, to create an international platform for the discussion of modern graphic and applied art. Contrary to that of existing publications, the attitude of New Graphic Design is characterised by exclusiveness, consistency and lack of compromise. The four editors pledge themselves to uphold the policy of reproducing only work which is absolutely contemporary in style. And even if they are responsible in the first place for the publication the editors are not above accepting hints and criticisms or considering proposals for alterations. On the contrary, they ask readers and colleagues to help enlarge the scope of the journal. This undertaking, moreover, is not only concerned with new and striking ideas, it is also a business proposition, the soundness of which is guaranteed by the European reputation of the publishers and printers, Otto Walter, Ltd. of Olten (Switzerland). Each number will be the result of full and detailed cooperation between editor and publisher from both the aesthetic and financial standpoint. It is our earnest wish that the periodical will achieve the wide circulation for the sake of which we are publishing it.
Editors and Managing editors
Richard P. Lohse, Zurich
Josef Müller-Brockmann, Zurich
Hans Neuberg, Zurich
Carlo L. Vivarelli, Zurich
Publishers and Printers:
Otto Walter, Ltd., Olten
Dr. Josef Rast
Originally published in Neue Grafik
Issue 1 | 1958
Republished in 2014 by Lars Müller Publishers