“We’re surrounded by THINGS,” says Tokyo-based designer Ian Lynam. “Things we’ve designed, designed things that we have inherited, and things that are so woven into our societies and cultures that we cannot extricate them.”

Positing that a “thing” is the “opposite of solving a design problem”, Lynam recently published a tome called—you got it—The Thing, an 88-page zine that mixes graphic design history, memoir,
object studies, “dismembered limbs, virgin tears, and blood sacrifice applied to some of the silkiest Japanese papers available,” in his words.

The book takes the form of studies around various “things,” inspired by Bill Brown’s notion of Thing Theory, which borrows from Heidegger’s distinction between objects and things, which posits that “an object becomes a thing when it can no longer serve its common function.”

This all might sound rather lofty and confusing, but it broadly looks at the problematics of design, designers, and design history in a fun, engaging way. This means topics veer from “Netflix binge-watching as a metaphor for lived experience” to Vikings to guilt and shame, nostalgia, Japanese design history and picking locks.

The pages are peppered with some gorgeous imagery with a striking lime green and black colour palette. Offset printed and screen-printed, the book is typeset in the Biwa and Biwa Stencil families of digital typefaces from Wordshape. Oh yeah, and it glows in the dark.

“In regard to design, my chosen profession, I am not interested in outcomes or ‘solutions’—that is the rhetoric of genocide,” says Lynam. “I want untidy endings.”

The Thing is published by Ian Lynam’s graphic design publishing imprint Wordshape..

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Author:

Emily Gosling

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