Alan Fletcher as pictured in his final book, Picturing and Poeting, £24.95 / € 39.95, Phaidon 2006
The Design Museum was packed out with the great and good (plus CR) last night for the official opening of Alan Fletcher: Fifty years of graphic work (and play). Given the tragic circumstances, Fletcher having died little more than a month before, the evening was as much celebratory tribute as private view: a chance for the industry to show how much they loved and admired the man. Among those paying homage were Wim Crouwel, Bob Gill and, bizarrely, former quiz show host Bamber Gascoigne (anyone who knows his connection with Fletcher, please enlighten us).
Derek Birdsall gave a touching, if meandering speech and we all left clutching Quentin Newark’s beautiful show guide (the latter features biographical text from the exhibition alongside Peter Wood’s photographs of Fletcher’s gorgeous studio and is almost worth the admission money alone).
Of course the show is great – GTF’s design is respectful and understated while still providing some delightful touches (including a giant 3D Reuters logo) and Emily King cleverly paces the journey through Fletcher’s remarkable career. It’s all there: from the iconoclastic early years, through major corporate work at Pentagram to the exuberance of an independence secured late in life. But as with all great shows, Fletcher’s should be as much about influencing the future as documenting the past. It is the effect that the show will have on those who come to see it that will be as important as the joy of reviewing his triumphs. So here are some thoughts prompted by last night…