Designing information for everyday life, 1815-1914

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Typography and Graphic Communication


Some of the most inventive and imaginative designing of the nineteenth century was thrown away. The interactions and transactions of everyday life were conducted through, and recorded by, a host of ephemeral printed documents - eloquent witness to the development of patterns of modern life. Their rich and varied configurations, colours, and texts made-new demands on newly literate audiences. Victorian 'information design' - a graphic equivalent of engineering, and done before the emergence of professional designers - is the most intelligent, but secret, ancestor of today's graphic design. This research reveals and explains what we can learn from it.


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