Since January, American graphics association AIGA has been celebrating its centennial in style, launching websites, events across the country and a beautiful exhibition curated by Monotype celebrating 100 years in type design. For its Centennial Gala, New York agency Collins created a book and installation commemorating the organisation’s past and its 2014 medallists.
The book offers a look at the history of AIGA and profiles each of this year’s 24 medal recipients, including Chip Kidd, Abbott Miller, Louise Fili and Noreen Morioka.
Copies were given to guests at AIGA’s annual gala in New York. AIGA usually publishes a programme for the event but Thomas Wilder, a senior designer at Collins, says this year’s milestone called for something a little more special.
“We felt another programme undeserved the heft of the night. Not only do very few organisations reach their centennial anniversary but, in the previous 99 years, the AIGA had awarded only 160 medals. Inducting 24 designers into the discipline’s cannon in a single year is something worth commemmorating,” he says.
The book is printed on heavy Mohawk paper and has a minimal black, white and red design. The cover features a 10×10 grid of foil stamped dots, representing the organisation’s 100-year past, and red dots symbolise the year in which each medal recipient began their career.
Inside, it contains essays, medallist profiles, a history of past medallists and quotes from this year’s recipients on how they got started in design.
Graphic embellishments have been kept to a minimum but circles are used throughout, from the timeline of past winners to page numbers and the cover design. Medallists are introduced by their first name only in Lineto’s Circular typeface, and Colophon’s Relative is used for body copy.
“In the book’s construction, we aimed to craft something that felt enduring — a key value exhibited by the AIGA milestone and the medalists’ legacies,” says Wilder.
“The range of honorees’ work is diverse, so we needed to be curatorial and somewhat well-behaved…Lack of ornamentation can give objects a sculptural quality, elevating their content. The only catch is that minimalism can feel grim, even sterile. To counteract that, we pushed it to be a sort of “cheerful modernism” with blunt color and typographic choices,” he adds.
Collins also created an interactive installation for the Gala, which featured 100 white discs suspended from an 18-foot canopy. A clock face was projected on to each disc and, using their phones and tablets, visitors were able to interact with the installation by changing the colour or spinning hands on each face to unlock stories about each medallist.
It’s a restrained and carefully considered design, and the bold colour and type add visual impact without distracting from the creative work featured, while the use of circles and circular typefaces adds some unity throughout.
“We aimed to elevate the designers, their stories and their work…[and] we hoped to create a book that people wanted to keep because of how it was made and what it offered,” adds Wilder.