Designed by Peter Saville

Peter Saville is a graphic designer, and one of the original Factory Records lot. Being part of Tony Wilson's crowd probably tells you everything you need to know. He designed some iconic Joy Division and New Order album covers, and really seemed to introduce design to album art. Even if you haven't heard of him, you'll recognise his work.

He's deeply into 'appropriation', postmodernism, semiotics, and things like that. Appropriation is the thing that occurs the most, though - taking classic design and converting it into album art, or some other way of selling something. But when he does it, it's close to art. His work's great, and visually this book is stunning.

So... the words. Turns out that I don't really understand the guy. While artistically very successful, he's been a pretty spectacular failure financially. Very Factory. This stems from his non-commercial approach. He's been fundamental to the current state of design, but hates what it has become, and just doesn't fit as a cog in the corporate machine. I can very much respect this, but I think there's something more than that in the interviews and articles. Something a little sleazy perhaps? A bit like the Suede covers he designed. Perhaps it's just the atmosphere of eternal late '70s.

There are around half a dozen chapters, by different people, and with the exception of Rick Poynor's stuff, hardly any of it speaks to me. Almost as if I not only don't get Saville, but I don't get the people who get him the most. Perhaps I've just got to accept that I can really like someone's work without having any connection with their mental processes.

Posted 2008-01-28.