The Designers Republic, led by founder and born rebel Ian Anderson, has shaped graphic communication over the past 30 years. It has done this through gravity-defying client work, revolutionary self-initiated projects, and provocative gestures.
Under Anderson’s idiosyncratic leadership, TDR™ pioneered the idea of a design group with attitude. More like a band than a design studio, they changed the dynamic between client and design group, and uniquely, they acquired a following beyond the graphic design tribe.
Now, for the first time in book form, Ian Anderson explores his studio’s output, its concepts, its processes and its influence on a generation of graphic designers.
Dismissed by some as “stylists”, Anderson demonstrates how the work of TDR™ is underpinned by conceptual thinking. The book delivers a unique insight into why TDR™ work looks the way it does, and provides a guide to the studio’s modus operandi.
“If you ask me what we do at Designers Republic, we solve problems and communicate the solution. That’s my interest. The graphic design aspect is only something that’s there to improve the communication.”
Founded in 1986, in Sheffield in the north of England, The Designers Republic's early work was mostly done for the music industry. They produced record sleeves, logos, posters and flyers that broke every rule in the music industry marketing handbook, while a ‘cut-up’ design for Age of Chance’s single ‘Kiss’ brought the studio’s work to a wider audience.
The radicalism of TDR™ record covers stood out in a field noted for its radicalism – TDR™ out-radicaled the radicals.
The long-term relationship that TDR™ established with Warp Records began in 1989 and helped establish the visual language for many of the label’s most innovative artists, from Aphex Twin to Autechre, and eventually led to projects for many other acts such as The Orb, Supergrass and Pulp.
“Thirty years of work pushing at the cutting edge, that’s really what we’ve done. [It’s] not like a mission statement, but that is effectively what we do … because of the nature of my personality and therefore the people I choose to work with.”
Ground-breaking graphics for the video game Wipeout offered a revolutionary alternative to game design and packaging, and brought TDR™ an army of new fans to the studio’s aesthetic from outside the world of design.
Recent work for the Gulbenkian Foundation shows that, even after three decades, Anderson’s love of craft and deep reflection is still present in the work.
At a time when nearly every major UK design group was based in London, The Designers Republic’s Sheffield location meant placing itself in opposition to the London-centric UK design scene.
With ideas and concepts at the heart of the studio’s philosophy it’s no surprise that Anderson (a philosophy graduate with no formal design training) frequently employs words like sampling, layering, reconstruction or disinformation when discussing the TDR™ approach.
While TDR™ eventually worked with big clients including Orange, Sony and Coca-Cola, its work frequently subverted established norms of design and advertising. It used irony and irreverence to make people sit up and think about subjects such as consumerism and politics. Anderson has said that he sees politics “something to opt out of, not something you choose to get involved in”.
“Low boredom threshold. Never satisfied. Always wanting to push further. Quite often our client relationships will break because we want to push harder and further than they do.”
Anderson is the ideal person to shed light on the thinking behind The Designers Republic’s most celebrated work – he has been at the coalface since the beginning of TDR™ and seen the group’s ups and downs. Having closed down the studio in January 2009 (putting it into voluntary liquidation), Anderson bought back the TDR™ name and, with a few months, had re-established the practice as a more streamlined operation.
As he told Liz Farrelly in Eye magazine: “I don’t want to recreate what TDR™ was. I do want to reconnect with the principles on which its success was founded.”
An A to Z of The Designers Republic
A to Z of The Designers Republic is a continuation of the studio’s forward momentum. For a design group that has always been about the future – the what if rather than the what is – this book re-examines a remarkable body of work, while pointing towards where TDR™ is heading next.
From ‘Age of Chance’ to ‘Zermatt Road’ (the address in Croydon where Anderson lived before moving north), A to Z of The Designers Republic reveals the stories behind a wide range of TDR™ projects. From examining well-known TDR™ work to more obscure pieces, Anderson also reflects on how particular themes and subjects have played a role in the development of the studio’s approach.
As with the studio’s often densely-layered design work, the book provides multiple layers of detail and insight into the TDR™ working process.
While the final contents are still to be confirmed, the book will feature work created for a broad range of musicians, artists, brands and institutions including Warp, MTV Italy, Issey Miyake, Moshi Moshi Sushi, Shop 33/People’s Bureau, Swatch, The Gulbenkian Foundation and many, many others.
“People will be able to see our work in a different way, maybe somewhere closer to the reason we created the work, any of the work, in the first place. And that thinking process isn’t just applied to things where we have an element of freedom, it’s applied to everything that we do.”
A to Z of The Designers Republic
Author: Ian Anderson
Editors: Adrian Shaughnessy, Tony Brook and Mark Sinclair
Pages: 512 approx
Size: to be confirmed
Format: to be confirmed
Paper: to be confirmed
THE BOOK - SUPER DELXUE
The jamboree bags will contain items of TDR™ ephemera. Each bag will be different. It will not be possible to confirm items – it’s pot-luck!
POSTER BUNDLE 6
‘Angryman V.07' Brain Aided Design / Keep Learning 3 Col + Spot UV A1 Print 2002. (signed by Ian Anderson with TDR Stamp of Authenticity)
APHEX TWIN BUNDLE
Extremely rare Aphex Twin chromalins from albums; Windowlicker, Come to Daddy and Come to Daddy Remixed OrangeTM Ad.
The Designers Republic exhibition flag flying outside the Ginza Graphic Gallery in Tokyo. One of only two in existence.
Size: 2.53m x 0.90m
This poster is included in all rewards which contain a rolled poster except THE BOOK - LIMITED EDITION POSTER. Rewards which say 'folded poster' will not receive this backer poster.
Please note that you will be asked to supply a delivery address and confirmation of the name that you want to appear in the book. If you fail to supply this information your name might not appear in the printed book, and delivery might be delayed. Thanks for your help with this.
Duties and taxes vary between countries and international shipments may be subject to local duties and taxes. These are the responsibility of the recipient and not Unit Editions.
Unit Editions – the publishers
Unit Editions is an independent publishing company, producing books for an international audience of designers and followers of visual culture. The company was formed in 2009 by Tony Brook, Patricia Finegan (both Spin) and Adrian Shaughnessy.
High quality design and production standards are partnered with insightful texts and informative commentaries to produce books on a wide variety of subjects that are either neglected or ignored by mainstream publishers.
To date Unit Editions has produced over 40 books and publications. Titles include: Paula Scher: Works (2017); Lance Wyman: The Monograph (2015) and Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer 1918–81 (2012).
Unit Editions books are only available through their website and a handful of specialist book shops. Our books are shipped postage free to anywhere in the world. Superior protective packing is used to ensure that books arrive undamaged, and all large format books are shipped with protective corners.
Risks and challenges
Unit Editions has successfully completed five Kickstarter campaigns to date: Manuals 1 (second edition); Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries 1973–1982; Octavo Redux – 1:1 record of Octavo, International Journal of Typography, 1986–1992; Vaughan Oliver: Archive; and Herb Lubalin: American Graphic Designer (1918—81) second edition (shipping December 2018).
Unit Editions is hugely experienced in the production and delivery of books and publications of all kinds. We only use high quality suppliers (printers, binders, etc.) and we distribute globally on a daily basis.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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