Michael Rock
Rizzoli International Publications, New York, 2013, English
Design, General; Nonfiction, Graphic Design
5.75 x 8.25 inches, paperback, 400 pages, 400 color illustrations
ISBN: 9780847839735
Suggested Retail Price: $35.00

From the Publisher. This book presents a thoughtful and witty exploration of graphic design today produced by Michael Rock of 2x4, the powerhouse creative firm that partners with some of the most design-savvy brands and institutions in the world to develop design systems that draw on both modernist traditions and the exuberance of contemporary life. Set forth in an engaging and humorous way, Multiple Signatures examines all aspects of modern design, from typography to the evolution of screens in advertising to trusting one’s own creative instincts, through a series of smart and often irreverent essays and images. Using 2x4’s own collaborations and projects as examples, and drawing on the experience of the contributing authors, the result is not a clinical textbook, but a fantastic and thought-provoking work about the limitless applications of design. A must-have for design students and professionals, Multiple Signatures challenges standard ways of understanding design and inspires readers to think of graphic design as a building block for all creative disciplines.

On 2 book lists
Ellen Lupton

Michael Rock’s Multiple Signatures belongs to a new breed of monograph that showcases the work of a designer or studio through a diverse collage of documents rather than through lavish reproductions. Multiple Signatures attempts to perform the work rather than merely represent it. Some projects appear in tiny reference shots inserted into a discursive text (reminiscent of Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture), while others enter the stage as large-scale images that are not so much reproduced as re-enacted. 2x4, the design consultancy co-founded by Rock in 1994, emerges as the book’s primary subject; the book situates the studio’s influential practice within a larger discussion about design authorship and the techniques and clichés of visual form-making.

A rich picture emerges of how design is practiced in a large multidisciplinary firm with a unique critical voice. One essay features a cartoon-style conversation between Rock and his partners Susan Sellers and Georgie Stout; each character is illustrated with a deadpan drawing of a talking head. The ensuing conversation feels at once honest and contrived—like good theater. One head pronounces, “Our enthusiasm is one of our most recognizable products . . . it has also nearly driven us out of business a few times.” The book also includes many of Rock's essays and lectures, covering a span of more than two decades.

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