of Blueprint with typeface David Quay
Blueprint’s redesign, the very first issue of which
you hold in your hands, is founded on a 20-year relationship between two
designers. In 1988 Patrick Myles, art director of Blueprint, was just
trying to decide which design trail to follow when David Quay, a leading
typographer responsible for the D&AD Award-winning Yellow Pages type,
stepped up as his tutor and mentor.
‘David was the main influence in setting me on the career path I
am on today,’ Myles says. It was while teaching him graphic design
first suggested to Myles that he read Blueprint. At the time he could
not have foreseen how closely he would be linked to the publication.
Myles’s professional connection with Blueprint stems back to the
early Nineties at Wordsearch, a design consultancy run by Peter Murray,
which originally launched the title.
In 1983 Murray had noticed a hole in the market for an inspirational magazine
that presented lavish images and a critical analysis of the industry –
a magazine that would contemplate architecture
and design’s relationship to the rest of the world.
He enlisted Deyan Sudjic and Simon
Esterson as editor and art director and
together the three touted the new publication as ‘London’s
magazine of design, architecture and style’. The first 18 issues
were put together voluntarily by leading journalists. This group of friends
used their contacts in the business to
drum up much-needed funding. Blueprint
wouldn’t exist without Terence Conran
and Norman Foster’s £2,000 and Richard
Rogers’s £500 donations.
It was at Wordsearch that Myles began his long association with the magazine.
He worked on Blueprint Extra books and design work that grew out of Wordsearch,
such as Eye and Tate
magazines, before moving on to Wilmington Media in 1994.
At this point, the magazine pursued him. In 2000 Wilmington bought Blueprint
and Myles once
again found himself working with the title, first as creative director
and more recently in a more handson capacity as art director, assisted
by senior designer Kieran Gardner.
time Myles and Quay continued to take an interest in each other’s
work. In 2004, Myles invited his former tutor to take part in the
Though the Eighties
were profitable for Blueprint, the ensuing stock market crash and recession
led to a decline in advertisers, subscribers and – most
publication’s A Blueprint for Life exhibition at the National Portrait
Gallery. Earlier this year they met at Quay’s home in Amsterdam
to discuss a
handful of works in progress Quay had been experimenting with in between
designs for The Foundry, the fonts company he co-founded in 1990.
Myles saw potential in Trip Trap, a stepped typeface formed of bars laid
out in columns, a construction that related to architecture in terms of
blocks and skylines. He asked Quay to complete the font
exclusively for Blueprint’s redesign.
‘It is a simple grid idea that has a strong
structure and vertical emphasis. It was
originally influenced by signage typefaces,
the sort you see on the side of buses and
trains,’ says Quay.
Blueprint New Era is now used for headlines and flagging up the different
sections of the magazine. It is also reflected in keylines and the way
are aligned. ‘A lot can be developed from New Era,’ explains
Myles. ‘With it we could construct images, contributor portraits,
quote marks and chevrons for
navigation.’ New Era will be complemented with the fonts Officina
and Trump Medieval and, for the
editorial, American Typewriter.
There is much to be said for going back to basics. No other design and
architecture title can simultaneously make claim to both the heritage
originality of Blueprint. That is why for its first major redesign in
almost a decade the magazine’s publishing team has delved into its
past and reconnected with the roots that established Blueprint as the
nerve centre for ideas that shape design and architecture in today’s
This redesign brings together the attitudes that shaped Blueprint’s
past with the free thinking that will generate the future of the industry.
You will have
instantly noticed the new size, studied the new masthead and drawn your
finger over the new typeface. But how did Blueprint get here and why did
it need a redesign?
tragically – design businesses. With the
economic upheaval came a turning of the tide for design issues and media
coverage of the sector. Today, television is full of both home-makeover
shows and critical architecture documentaries; design and lifestyle titles
dominate the shelves of
every major and minute retailer and the internet provides the wealth of
industry knowledge that Blueprint once stood alone in offering. Even the
cutting-edge architects and designers – such as Zaha Hadid, Will Alsop
and Eva Jiricna – who
once fought to build a scrap of concrete in the UK, are now household names
and the country is saturated with exotic structures and dynamic skylines.
So where is the cutting
edge now? Following a redesign in 1995 by John Belknap and another by
Andrew Johnson in 1997, Blueprint reconsidered its
mission. The editorial team says the new approach strives for a ‘strong
and coherent identity’ and aims to ‘take a grown-up slant
that picks up on the
design impact on social, economical and political issues’. Blueprint’s
main priority is to uncover the ideas behind architecture and design.
To editor Vicky Richardson, these ideas are often expressed best by the
people working at the borders where art, design and architecture meet.
‘This redesign is necessary to move forward, to allow us to explore
new ways of writing about and illustrating the design process,’
she says. ‘We want the new-era Blueprint to be visually strong but
picture-led, with photos that tell a story and have a critical attitude
just as much as the writing.’
With all this in mind, Myles was set the brief to bring about fundamental
changes that paid respect to the magazine’s heritage. ‘It’s
about making it
personal, to be able to open any page and know instantly it is Blueprint,’
explains Myles, who, with Gardner, has sought to design a framework that
allows the team to confidently deliver information and images, including
several new editorial
features – solidifying Blueprint’s identity without being
The most dramatic modification to the magazine has been initiated by Royal
Mail, which is now charging for posted items by size as well as by weight,
forcing the magazine to shave millimetres off its width. This has paved
the way for an overhaul of the publication’s content and Myles has
designed a shape better suited to carry and read, as well as increasing
the weight of the paper.
The classic serif stencil of the new masthead has been derived from the
logo used on early issues, but is now set into a block so it becomes a
stamp. As Myles says: ‘We’ve got the past, future and
now we have our current identity delivering Blueprint’s individual
view on architecture and design’
Becky Rushmer, Blueprint October 2006