Emily King


BB Being a writer, what is your relationship to graphic design?
EK I am a historian manqué. I am drawn to historical narratives, but I cannot write, or even think very well in the absence of pictures. I am interested in design above art because it plays more of a role in the kind of stories that interest me.

BB What made you interested in typography in particular?
EK In 1993 I was offered funding to study for a PhD on a topic relating to design and digital technology. At that point it struck me that technology was revolutionising the business of type design. I had graphic design friends who would compete to be the first to use a new font, meanwhile traditional type design companies and typesetting shops were shutting down month by month. And then there were the ‘font wars’, the big debate among mainly US graphic designers, between those who favoured self-expression and those who believed in self-restraint. It was a thrilling field at the time, really.

BB In your review of the 26th Brno Biennial 2014 published in Frieze 167 you wrote: “Although it could be argued that the 26th edition didn't venture into dramatically new geographical territory, it made a significant step simply by breaking the cycle of professional self-congratulation.”
How do you see events such as Brno Biennial, what role should they play in relation to the field of graphic design, and to society in general?
EK I think they should be chances for graphic designers to get together and work out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and they should offer the public the opportunity to work out those things at the same time. They should also be occasions to learn something new – hence my comment about geographic territories. It is a shame when you see the same set of usual suspects involved in every graphic event, wherever it happens to be. To an extent, I count myself among those usual suspects.

BB What are your thoughts on exhibiting graphic design, especially in the gallery context?
EK By putting graphic design in a gallery, you are asking that it command a different sort of attention than it would in its normal setting. You might place it in relation to other works by the same designer (monographs being the most conventional form of graphic design exhibition), or you might put it in the context of works of a similar kind, or possibly things that only have a very loose relation (sometimes it’s good to challenge expectations, not just those of your audience, but also your own). Whatever your approach, when you put graphic design into a gallery, you have to make sure that the change of setting is intelligent and meaningful. In exhibiting graphic design, a curator is required to shed some new light on the subject.
That said, I love the transformation when something goes from being an old magazine rotting on your shelves to something that you hold carefully by the edges, wearing white gloves.

BB This edition of the Brno Biennial responds to the metamorphoses and the state of contemporary graphic design; its multitude, variety, vagueness and apparent superficiality. Can you identify some of the basic parameters, current themes or motivations of contemporary graphic design?
EK I am afraid I am feeling really out of touch. I am the perfect audience for this Biennial. I have a fundamental interest in graphic design and I am really keen to learn something new, and to feel more up to date.
A contribution by Emily King, key-word ‘Heat’, is included in the catalogue of the 27th Brno Biennial.

Emily King (GB)

Emily King is a London-based design historian with a specialism in graphic design. After a first degree in philosophy and economics, she completed an MA in design history with a thesis on film title sequences and a PhD concentrating on the design of type in wake of the digital revolution. Since then she has written, curated and, occasionally, lectured. Her books include monographs on Peter Saville, M/M Paris and the legendary 1950s art director Robert Brownjohn. Among her exhibitions is ‘Quick, Quick, Slow: graphic design and time’, which she curated for the Lisbon design biennial Experimenta, and monographic shows on Alan Fletcher and Richard Hollis. She has contributed to numerous magazines including Frieze, The Gentlewoman, Plant and Apartamento. Increasingly she appreciates design in the broadest sense and her current projects touch on food, scent, clothing and literature.’

Biennial News

Short interviews with collaborators of the 27th Brno Biennial, authors of its exhibitions, jury members and Biennial Talks speakers.


Interviews and graphic design: Radim Peško Radim Peško (1976) is a graphic designer based in London. He works in the field of type design, editorial and exhibition projects. In 2010 he has established his RP Digital Type Foundry that specializes on typefaces that are both formally and conceptually distinctive. His work includes identity for Secession Vienna, typefaces for identities of Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Aspen Art Museum, Fridericianum, Berlin Biennale 8, various work for the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Bedford Press London or a long-term collaboration with artist Kateřina Šedá. He has lectured at many schools including Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam, ÉCAL Lausanne, HFK Bremen, KISD Cologne, École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Lyon, Sint-Lucas Ghent, University of Seoul. Since 2011 he is part of the curatorial board of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Tomáš Celizna Tomáš Celizna (1977) is interested in graphic design in connection with new technologies. He is a founding partner of design studio dgú in Prague (2001 to 2005), recipient of J. W. Fulbright Scholarship (2006), and holds MFA in graphic design from Yale University School of Art (2008). He currently lives and works independently in Amsterdam. Collaborations include, among others, OASE Journal for Architecture, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Since 2011 he is a lecturer in graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design Brno., Adam Macháček Adam Macháček (1980) is a graphic designer. Following studies at the AAAD in Prague, Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and ÉCAL in Lausanne, he co-founded in 2004 studio Welcometo.as in Lausanne and is a member of 201∞ Designers collective. His work includes publications, exhibition catalogues, illustrations and identities. Collaborations include, among others, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Théâtre de Vevey (seasons 2003–2012), Galerie Rudolfinum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Chronicle Books, Editions Pyramyd, Museum of Czech Literature, Brno House of Arts, California College of the Arts, Airbnb. For Brno Biennial he initiated and organized exhibitions Work from Switzerland (2004) and From Mars (2006, together with Radim Peško). Since 2011 he is a member of the curatorial team of the International Biennial of Graphic Design in Brno. He lives and works in Berkeley.
Translation and copy editing: Alena Benešová, Kateřina Tlachová
Production: Miroslava Pluháčková
Printed by: Tiskárna Helbich s. r. o.
Print run: 2000
1st edition
Published by the Moravian Gallery in Brno, 2016