There are lots of things I miss about the late, great graphic designer Alan Fletcher, but the thing I miss the most is arguing with him about design. Some of our most enjoyable arguments involved how to explain design to the 99 percent of the population that Alan pityingly described as “civilians” — in other words, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be designers. Alan claimed that design only made sense when it was explained visually, because that was how the designer would have conceived it. I argued that words and a few facts, like dates and design movements, could be helpful, too. Wrong, wrong, wrong, Alan snorted. I’d snort back at him, but leafing through a book on the design collection of the Museum für Gestaltung (the Museum of Design) in Zurich makes me wonder whether he was right.


May 24, 2010