Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From the archives: Tibor Kalman

I have a couple 'go-to' designers when I get stuck for ideas. Few have, or had, as many ideas as Tibor Kalman (6 July 1949 - 2 May 1999). A Hungarian migrant, Kalman lived in America for most of his life before moving to Rome in the early 1990s to head Colours magazine. He did most of his recognisable work – a long collaboration with the band Talking Heads, identity, book, interior and architectural design with his wife and collaborator Maria for their company M&Co– in the 1980s. That was a decade with a lot of UPPERCASE and wide k e a r n i n g. He was a designer who understood typography, identified as a modernist but combined it with a genuine love for the vernacular. I was not surprised to discover recently that he was a rabid socialist as well. A lot of his design for Colors magazine – who can forget a black Queen Elizabeth? – was on the pointed side. From today's vantage Kalman's work looks of its time. I don't mean dated. Clean layouts, a clear message simply delivered and a passion for indigenous cultures. Not long before he died tragically of cancer still in his 40s, be published a book about his work: Perverse Optimist. Now he was someone who knew himself well.

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