April Greiman- Design Quarterly 133

April Greiman, Design Quarterly 133, Does it make Sense? 1986

Design quarterly is a prestigious magazine from Walker Art Center that for over 50 years has been featuring designers and their work in the fields of contemporary architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, and product and graphic design. In 1989 they reached out to April Greiman to feature her for issue 133 of their magazine and they invited her to design it to her own specifications to display her work. Greiman took this invitation to heart and chose to reinvent the format of the magazine itself, tossing out the previously standard 32-pages issue into a life sized digital portrait that featured all of the information that was traditionally put within the pages on the back of the poster. I think that this flipping of not on the traditional style but also including an unconventional method of delivering her works is extremely characteristic of Greiman as a whole. The idea of having such a big life sized digital portrait is something that today we take for granted but at the time that Greiman made her designs for Design Quarterly she was working with some of the earliest computers, including the original Macintosh that ran on 125 Kb of memory. Files were way too large for the earliest systems and at times it would take all night for a single file to print out and early reproduction methods were so unflattering that Greiman had to cut and paste certain parts of her body.

The theme of the issue was “Does it make sense?” which is inspired by a notation by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein“If you give it a sense, it makes sense.” Grieman thought that this could tie into the tools and technologies that she was using to make her work, familiar tools will lead to familiar viewpoints and outcomes. This issue came as a big shock to the design community both because of the unconventional delivery and the embrace of computer technology. The fuzzy pixelated bitmap imagery and text were the opposite of what designers were currently accepting as the norm. Greimans designs in Design Quarterly were far from the clean straight lines and angles that were associated with the International style, and the idea of using the emotionless, unfeeling technology of computers was frowned upon. Despite all this after seeing her works published many designers were ready to rethink their ways and perhaps give computers a chance. From the philosophical undertones, heavy use of symbols and new technology to the unique delivery method and potential to make designers at the time rethink their old views on technology, Design Quarterly 133 is a great project that shows off Greimans strengths and courage in her field.