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Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines | Unit Editions | Exclusive excerpt



Exclusive images and excerpt from Unit Editions excellent new book

— Thanks to Sarah Schrauwen | Unit Editions


Manuals 1 Design & Identity Guidelines | Unit Editions : An Excerpt


Manuals grew out of a specific modern business requirement that surfaced in the 1950s, namely the need that the early large corporations had for control of their public image.

As the design historian Philip Meggs has noted: ‘The industrial revolution, with its mass manufacturing and marketing, increased the value and importance of trademarks for visual identification. But the visual identification systems that began during the 1950s went beyond trademarks or symbols. The national and multinational scope of many corporations made it difficult for them to maintain a cohesive image, but by unifying all communications from a given organization into a consistent design system, such an image could be projected, and the design system enlisted to help accomplish specific corporate goals.’ (In Meggs, Philip B. & Alston W. Purvis, 2006. Meggs’ History of Graphic Design [4th edition], p. 399)

What factors explain the reverence amongst many contemporary designers for the great manuals from the 1960s and ‘70s? Is it merely nostalgia for a pre-digital era, when there was enough time to produce such complex undertakings? Or is the revival of interest more to do with the passing of a style of design and graphic communication that is less prevalent today? For the most part, the best manuals adhered to the principles of graphic modernism – and more particularly to the ‘Swiss Style’ (also known as the ‘International Style’ or ‘die neue Grafik’). This austere visual grammar, with its bold use of white space, small repertoire of sans serif typefaces and reliance on strict modular grids, established itself in America in the mid-20th century.

Perhaps consider the idea that the strongest claim manuals can make on our affections is that they are amongst the best examples of pure information design in graphic design. As Massimo Vignelli notes: ‘The definition of a good manual is a manual that gets used.’ In other words, they are functioning documents with a clear purpose and an explicit role to play. Looking at the examples assembled in this book, we can only marvel at the skill and dedication that went into their making.


An excerpt from the introductory essay in Manuals 1: Design & Identity Guidelines, written by Adrian Shaughnessy. Manuals 1 is available on and in selected bookshops.


This book is the first comprehensive study of corporate identity design manuals, and features 21 examples from the 1960s to early 1980s – the golden era of identity design. The book includes manuals created for institutions and corporations such as NASA, Lufthansa and British Steel.

All of the manuals have been lovingly photographed, and presented in a spacious and functional layout, allowing the observer to fully appreciate these wonderful examples of information design at its best. Manuals 1 is printed in Italy, conforming to the highest production standards.

Foreword by Massimo Vignelli and texts from Adrian Shaughnessy, NASA designer Richard Danne, Greg D’Onofrio and Patricia Belen (Display), Armin Vit (Under Consideration), Sean Perkins (North) and John Lloyd.


Edited by Tony Brook, Adrian Shaughnessy and Sarah Schrauwen

Designed by Spin

Hardback with high gloss wrap


432 pages

ISBN 978-0-9575114-4-6






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