Monday, May 17, 2010
Alan Fletcher formed Fletcher Forbes Gill in 1962 which became Crosby Fletcher Forbes and then Pentagram in 1972. All of these designers are brilliant in their own right but Fletcher deserves special attention.
Clients included Pirelli, Cunard, Penguin Books and Olivetti.
Much of his work is still in use: a logo for Reuters made up of 84 dots, which he created in 1965, was retired in 1992, but his 1989 "V&A" logo for Victoria and Albert Museum, and his "IoD" logo for the Institute of Directors remain in use.
He left Pentagram in 1992, and worked from the homeand worked for new clients, such as Novartis. Much of his later work was as art director for the publisher Phaidon Press.
His scholastic books, The Art Of Looking Sideways and Beware Wet Paint, remain best sellers, but they also provide a unique insight into Fletcher’s creative psyche as they are packed with doodles, pictograms and observations.
In Graphic Design: Visual Comparisons, a book the studio published in 1963, Alan wrote, "Our thesis is that any one visual problem has an infinite number of solutions; that many are valid; that solutions ought to derive from subject matter; that the designer should have no preconceived graphic style."
His vast body of work, soon to be on view in a major retrospective at the Design Museum that opens November 11, managed to combine the reductive simplicity of modernism with a dedication to wit, joy and surprise that was intensely personal. "I like to reduce everything to its absolute essence," he once said, "because that is a way to avoid getting trapped in a style." Yet a Fletcher solution was always nothing if not stylish, refined and precise, with always a bit more than the problem required: "I treat clients as raw material to do what I want to do, though I would never tell them that." What Alan wanted to do was what we all wanted to do.
For him, life and work were inseparable: "Design is not a thing you do. It's a way of life." (quoted in his obituary in The Times).
"There is an art to seeming artless"-Cicero,