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Saville Associates

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Robert Johnston's picture
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004 - 8:56am
Saville Associates
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… have a website under construction: http://www.saville-associates.com

I wonder if anybody else finds this as exciting as I do … ? And as typically Saville-weird — it takes him until 2004 to get a website moving.

I guess he’s controversial as a designer — I spoke to a designer acquaintance recently about my visit to the Peter Saville Show at the London Design Museum and he erupted in a rant about how Saville was a dilettante, a has-been and a hands-off ‘Art Director’ who only bothers to get out of bed (generally at around 4pm) to give a thumbs-up or -down to whatever his acolytes are working on. And I’m sure that’s all true. Yet still — to my eye — everything he touches has a mystery and perfection to it that nobody can match. He was the reason — as for so many people, I’m sure — that I ended up in the field I’m in; the early New Order and Joy Division covers were such extraordinary objects that they engendered in me a fascination with design — and particularly type — that started me on the journey I’m on now.

There’s so much that’s interesting about Saville and his work — where to begin? That his old typographer, Brett Wickens, is now at MetaDesign and supervised the current redesign of the Adobe product line, which owes so much to Saville & Wickens’ work for Yohji Yamamoto? That he’s perhaps single-handedly responsible for the revival of the late-modernist Swiss design ethic in the late 80s (and which continues today)?

Did anyone else buy the book?

R

darrel's picture
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Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
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“Plug-in Not Loaded”

Hmm…site seems kind of lame to me.

;o)

Robert Johnston's picture
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004 - 8:56am
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It’s really just a holding page at the moment, with a Shockwave slideshow of some recent work. I was more interested in sparking off some discussion about Saville himself rather than the site.

That said, whoever does his web design seems obsessed with Shockwave. See http://www.showstudio.com, which Saville and long-time photographer companion Nick Knight have an involvement in.

R

Robert Johnston's picture
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004 - 8:56am
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I meant ‘colleague’. Not ‘companion’.

;)

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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For something like this Flash is much better than Shockwave — it has double the penetration.
And the blurry Helvetica blows chunks — they should use a UPF: http://www.ultrafonts.com

About Saville itself: no real idea — sorry. Except to say they either don’t value the web or they don’t understand it.

hhp

Lucian Costello's picture
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Joined: 30 Apr 2004 - 4:18pm
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Robert, I went to a talk he gave at the Urbis museum last month, thought he was one of the most interesting and charismatic speakers I’ve heard in a long time. It’s often difficult to distil into words just why his designs have such a resonance, the mystery you describe, the uncluttered, classical, almost at times austere layouts are why I think his design work has an ageless quality. Coupled with his uncanny prescient feel for condensing new contemporary trends into a meaningful visual format and you realise Factory were fortunate indeed.

Someone asked him at the talk which font he wanted on his gravestone, he chose News Plantin, used by his own studio on their identity and branding. Quite ironic seeing as it was selected by ‘Graphic Thought Facility’ after the Design Museum commissioned the agency, when they felt it was too risky hiring Saville in case he missed the deadline for his own show! Talk about your reputation preceding you.

There’s another interesting book which came out late last year, a limited edition monograph which has much better quality reproductions, if less theory than ‘Designed…’ available here.

Robert Johnston's picture
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004 - 8:56am
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Thanks for the tip on the book Lucian — I’ve contacted the guy to get a price.

Have you any idea who runs that site? I’ve looked at it before and he has some really interesting essays and interviews.

R

Kenn Munk's picture
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Joined: 1 Oct 2002 - 11:00am
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Peter Saville has had a website up for some time, but it was at one of these free hosting places, probably some Mb’s he got with his internet connection, I’ll see if I can find it, hang on….

A few minutes later… (imagine this in slanted handlettering in a yellow box.)
http://www.btinternet.com/~comme6/saville/

kris sowersby's picture
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Joined: 18 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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Yeah mate. I reckon Mr Saville is tremendous. I pretty
much purchased Unknown Pleasures based on the
cover, although I “sort of” knew of Joy Division. I would
love to get hold of his book. Very good designer, very
good designer.

kris.

Robert Johnston's picture
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004 - 8:56am
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Wow — so that ~comme6 site is actually Saville? I thought it was some kind of tribute site …

R

Chase J Goitia's picture
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Joined: 12 Apr 2004 - 11:14pm
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If the ‘~comme6’ site is actually Saville, he should know better than to yoink Flash from another designer, even if it is open source.

Sarnie Niemann's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 11:40am
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To be fair to Saville, he does namecheck Levitated’s Jared on the Site Credits page.

Wonderful designer…really love the waste painting series.

Chase J Goitia's picture
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Joined: 12 Apr 2004 - 11:14pm
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Ah, I checked his Links section and didn’t find a ‘trackback’ or credit there. It was sort of a knee-jerk reaction to seeing it used as a splash on another designer’s site.

Is that comedienne Sarah Silverman on his “New Order: Untitled”?

Sarnie Niemann's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 11:40am
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Don’t worry Chase, Saville is always getting into trouble for — cough — ‘appropriating’ other designers work i.e. can you spot the difference:

Fortunato Depero 1932 movecle
New Order Movement 1981mov

This time poor Depero goes uncredited on the sleeve.

Can’t help you on Sarah Silverman, who is she?

Brett Wickens's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 1:40pm
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http://www.wickens.net/images/csposter.jpg

I commissioned Peter to remix all of the Adobe packaging we redesigned into a limited edition double sided poster for a design school promotional piece.

 — Brett Wickens

Brett Wickens's picture
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As for the Depero ‘discovery’ there was a thorough piece on that topic in The Face magazine nearly 20 years ago called “The Age of Appropriation”. The Depero example, and others (including appropriations by other designers of the day) were shown and discussed in the context of the time, and the relevance of the appropriated choices.

 — Brett Wickens

Sarnie Niemann's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 11:40am
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Hi Brett, anyone who knows Saville’s work realises you were perhaps along with Trevor Key, his most important collaborator. Can I ask about Joy Division’s ‘Substance’ release, was it your idea to utilise Wim Crouwel’s New Alphabet and are those posters for Adobe still available to buy.

Chase J Goitia's picture
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Joined: 12 Apr 2004 - 11:14pm
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Sarah Silverman is a stand-up comedienne who’s on Tough Crowd from time to time.

There’s a good amount of [mis]appropriation used for band paraphernalia and merchandise, so it’s almost acceptable in that vein, but when I see it used as corporate promotion I get upset. Sort of the “you’re a designer, so design” mentality.

Chase J Goitia's picture
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Joined: 12 Apr 2004 - 11:14pm
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OT, Brett, must be nice to be able to use the blau mit weiss as your icon :-)

Brett Wickens's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 1:40pm
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Hi Sarnie,

The idea to use Wim Crouwel’s New Alphabet was less about the importance of his font (although I liked it a lot) than it was to combine it with Garamond… I think Peter had a book around with the Neue Alphabet in it, and I quite liked it. These were pre-Fontographer days (for us), so I had to draw/re-draw the Crouwel characters I needed and I had the Garamond typeset and pasted the whole thing together by hand. It took a lot of fiddling to get the balance right, but the idea of something concurrently futuristic and classical seemed appropriate for a Joy Division ‘anthology’ in 1989. Of course, the Jan Van Munster artworks on the inner liners made the whole story complete.

As for the Adobe posters, they were not for sale. They were sent to design schools around the world to promote CS. I only have about five file copies myself. You might want to try your local Adobe office (I don’t know which country you are in) and enquire there.

- Brett

Brett Wickens's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 1:40pm
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OT, Brett, must be nice to be able to use the blau mit weiss as your icon”

An OT response cjg, my middle initial is in fact M.

I saw a documentary on BMW recently… I always wondered about the significance of the design. It apparently harkens back to when BMW made airplane (propeller) engines, and the blue and white quadrants symbolize a propeller in motion.

And, I do drive one, though that really doesn’t give me the right to appropriate their mark for this forum. =)

- Brett

Sarnie Niemann's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 11:40am
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Thanks Brett, I came across the Atmosphere and Substance promo posters in the Richard Goodall Gallery in Manchester a few years ago. I was struck by how exquisite the composition and layout were.

One thing I noticed after The Foundry released Neue, was the variation in your use of the underlined letter M for N. Now I appreciate if it was hand drawn, you could decide to modify it for aesthetic reasons, though I suspect for some of the typographers on this forum, this may be construed as heresy (violating Crouwel’s work in such a manner). :-)

Brett Wickens's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 1:40pm
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Sarnie,

I didn’t really modify Crouwel’s font, I simply used the M instead of the N for aesthetic reasons. After all, the M is simply the N with an underline, in the original font.

But, if you were to translate it according the actual font, I guess you would get SUBSTAMCE, though nobody saw it that way.

About a year after doing that cover, a guy in South Africa (Leslie Willmers, I think his name was) emailed me a postscript version of the Neue Alphabet which he had painstakingly created — and many years before The Foundry got around to it. I still have it somewhere, thought it’s not quite perfect.

And, believe it or not, I actually tried some comps for the new Adobe packaging using New Alphabet, but they just looked weird. Without the Garamond, and fifteen years later, it all looked painfully trendy — more like the packaging for Wipeout XL than something interesting and prescient.

- Brett

Brett Wickens's picture
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Joined: 2 May 2004 - 1:40pm
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Oh, and btw, I was emailing recently with Howard Wakefield, and he asked me to point out that “comme 6 is a fan site — and that saville-associates.com is the official studio site showing recent projects — launching soon! — It will not be a full PS life history but a site promoting what work has been done and can be done with the people that we work with under the name of Saville Associates.”

- Brett

Robert Johnston's picture
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Joined: 17 Apr 2004 - 8:56am
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»And, believe it or not, I actually tried some comps for the new Adobe packaging using New Alphabet, but they just looked weird. Without the Garamond, and fifteen years later, it all looked painfully trendy — more like the packaging for Wipeout XL than something interesting and prescient

Don’t know about everyone else, but I’m having the time of my life here … :-)

R

Jonathan Scott's picture
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Joined: 12 May 2004 - 2:55pm
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Mr Wickens — very happy to see that the talent of the partnership has continued to find success in San Fran’

You may recall my vivid Shamen covers (digi-illustrations) that I pestered you & Peter with back in 1990 @ PSA and later, over at Pentagram…all the best!

- Jonathan Scott, Scottish TV, Glasgow.

Simon Schmidt's picture
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Joined: 30 Oct 2001 - 8:24am
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> I always wondered about the significance of the design. It apparently harkens back to when BMW made airplane (propeller) engines, and the blue and white quadrants symbolize a propeller in motion.

i’m not sure about the propeller theory, brett. the blue and white checker pattern is a major part of the bavarian identity. if you ever get the chance to visit the oktoberfest in munich, you’ll see it all over.
and since BMW stands for Bayrische MotorenWerke (bavarian motor works), i think it rather has to do with that, then with airplanes. but maybe it has to do with both.

didn’t wanna be a smartass, just thought you might like to know.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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The colors are Bavarian, but the propellor “theory” is more than that: it’s the “official” company explanation. And since BMW is older than the post-rationalization of design :-) personally I suspect it’s true.

hhp

Joe Pemberton's picture
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Joined: 8 Apr 2002 - 3:36pm
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Amazing how much of that was so timely when it came out (trendy is too tainted a word) and yet it is so timeless still.

___

Speaking of Joy Division, the movie 24 Hour Party People is a good take on the Manchester music scene of the 80s. Prior to seeing the movie I could not appreciate the poor recording quality of Joy Division, the lyrics especially. Afterall, I was raised on New Order. But the movie tapped me into that psyche somehow. It’s like being able to look again at Meta and appreciate its quirks after falling in love with Unit.