Flat File – the work of Herb Lubalin, in context

A new web publication on the Readymag platform is set to look at one piece of work from the Herb Lubalin Study Centre archive each week. If the first instalment on the 1964 design of Fact magazine is anything to go by, we suggest subscribing.

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Examining a single piece of graphic design on a weekly basis might not sound like a schedule attuned to the pace of modern web publishing, but when the work comes direct from the archive at the Herb Lubalin Study Center – and is presented via the Readymag format – it’s likely to be a bit special. The first instalment of Flat File, with its focus on Lubalin’s art direction and design of Fact magazine in 1964, does not disappoint.

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Flat File is edited by the HLSC’s Alexander Tochilovsky and designed by Readymag founder, Anton Herasymenko (whose own art direction on the sleek Enso design journal also neatly demonstrates the web platform).

The new project’s intention, as explained on the Flat File homepage (shown above), is to focus on one particular piece of work at a time from the Lubalin Center archive “in order to admire them, but also to learn something useful in the process.” Alongside work by Lubalin himself, the archive also holds thousands of examples of projects by other designers.

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Opening with Lubalin’s work on Ralph Ginzburg’s magazine Fact is a great place to start; the simple navigation of Readymag really comes into its own with such a bold and elegant piece of design to showcase. With economic considerations at the forefront of Lubalin’s approach, Fact achieved a lot with very little – via a small black-and-white format, with text-only covers and a two-column grid – it had an attitude all its own.

“The best detail in this project is the logo Lubalin designed,” Tochilovsky writes in his essay accompanying six images of the 60s magazine. “It was drawn by Tom Carnase, and based on Caslon 540 – with the ‘fslightly modified to mimic the ‘t’.” Attention to detail is everything and issue 1 of Flat File sets the bar high: this is definitely one to subscribe to.

See flatfile.lubalincenter.com