Peter Hall Editor
Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1998, English
Nonfiction, Graphic Design
ISBN: 9781568981505

From the Publisher. Tibor Kalman, probably best known for the witty designs of his company M&Co and his provocative work for Benetton’s Colors magazine, defined the eclectic multidisciplinary approach that came to characterize graphic design in the 1990s. His work ranges from journalism, advertising, and publishing to watches, paper weights, rulers, album covers, T-shirts, film titles, commercials, urban guidelines, and more. This is the first comprehensive collection of Kalman’s work and ideas and includes a pictorial manifesto by Kalman, revealing his thoughts on magazines, advertising, sex, bookstores, food, and the design profession. Product designs, stills and storyboards from his film and video projects, and spreads from his book and magazine work are are also included, along with essays by Steven Heller, David Byrne, Jay Chiat, Kurt Andersen, Paola Antonelli, Isaac Mizrahi, Ingrid Sischy, Chee Pearlman, and Rick Poynor.

On 5 book lists
Kit Hinrichs

The conscience of design.

Debbie Millman

Tibor Kalman was one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. He founded the design firm M&Co (named for Tibor’s wife, Maira Kalman) and produced groundbreaking work for Talking Heads, Restaurant Florent, The Limited, and Interview magazine. He also had a keen eye for great talent and hired designers including Stefan Sagmeister, Stephen Doyle, Emily Oberman, Alexander Isley, Scott Stowell, and Alexander Brebner, who all went on to create their own firms and have had great success. Perverse Optimist features anecdotes and commentary from Kalman’s clients, his staff, his peers, and his friends. It is an incredible book about an incredible designer, thinker, and bad-boy provocateur.

Rick Poynor

This monograph is another highly personal choice. Kalman was the most inspirational graphic designer I have met, a dynamo who made the entire activity seem more exciting, risky, and relevant. Perverse Optimist, published in 1998, performs a subtle kind of ventriloquism. Kalman handed over responsibility for both the editing and design—he was by that time ill—yet his voice, attitude, humor, and spirit resonate through the project, which opens with a characteristic, Colors-like visual essay. The book assembles a crowd of witnesses to speak about the man and his work (here again, I must own up to being one of them) while displaying his visual thinking in the strongest light.

Juergen Riehm

The title of this book says it all. Even while facing death, Kalman continued to work and enjoy every moment of his time left. His personality and spirit are truly inspiring.

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