New Wave, New Technology, New Typography

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In the early to mid-’80s, the so-called New Wave typography was a mix of styles that combined traits of Swiss Modernism, Postmodern contrasts and harmonies and lots of geometric shapes and isometric patterns. Typogram, one of New York’s digital typesetting service bureaus, produced this “ePage Electronic Graphic Services brochure” in 1988, in the early days of desktop publishing, designed by KODE. What this design shows is how a new technology helped define the style of a time.

Similar to the previous phototype era, many shades and patterns were available, typefaces could be contorted and distorted, and dimension could be easily imposed on otherwise flat surfaces. The cover (below) tells the story best. New Wave was defined by this somewhat futuristic means of achieving levels of graphic information, and shortly before every designer invested in computers, this system enabled the bells and whistles, twists and turns and fun manipulations that accompanied the introduction of high-resolution scanners and printers.


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About Steven HellerSteven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →