The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design

Do you live and breathe graphic design? I mean, really live for it? Would the notion of all the most iconic examples in the history of graphic design gathered together in one spot make you swoon? Then you may want to be sure you’re sitting down before reading any further. Behold, The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design by Phaidon Press.

Billed as "the ultimate reference guide for the design professional and enthusiast alike" this massive book-in-a-box features 500 iconic graphic designs spanning the centuries from the beginnings of mechanical reproduction to the present. From the Gutenberg Bible to Shepard Fairey’s HOPE posters, and everything in between, it’s all here.

Certainly, there have been plenty of books surveying the history of graphic design. But this is no book. Each entry is represented on an oversize (9.5" x 12.5") loose leaf card, with the main image on the front, and information and secondary images on the back.

In total, the archive contains 3000 color illustrations and 300 black and white illustrations, and tips the scales at 28 pounds! Fortunately, Phaidon thought to include a sturdy set of carrying handles to tote the collection around.

The purpose of eschewing a binding is two-fold. First, to offer choice. Cards are arranged in chronological order, but you are encouraged to re-arrange them as you see fit: alphabetically, by typography, by era, by designer, and so forth to create your own personalized arrangement. Second, Phaidon will also continue to release new cards so archive owners can grow the collection in whatever direction they want.

Selections for the archive were made by the editors of Phaidon Press, led by Design Director Julia Hastings and Editorial Director Emilia Terragni, with a team of contributors that included academics, historians, writers, and designers.

The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design retails for $235 US, but right now you can snag one for less than $150 at Amazon (see link above).

Posted on: October 16, 2012

Mike Rankin

Mike is the Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and He is also the author of several video training series, including Font Management Essential Training, InDesign FX, and InDesign CC: Interactive Document Fundamentals.

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