The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

AGDA: Conversations with Designers


“I just say that everything that is around you has either been designed or it’s an accident. I mean if you’re walking upstairs and you see a bit of bird shit on the staircase, I mean the bird shit is an accident but the staircase has been designed…”

Max Robinson

I recently came across the Australian Graphic Design Association video series Conversations with Designers. I can’t claim to know very much about Australian design history — I know next to nothing in fact — but it’s always interesting to hear designers talk about the discipline of design and their work in the field.

The latest video in the series features designer Max Robinson, who worked extensively in London in the 1960’s and would later design the Australian $10 note:

A PDF transcript of the full interview is available, and you can watch the other videos in the series on Vimeo.

I should also mention that I discovered the interviews thanks to the wonderful blog Re:collection, an online archive of Australian graphic design from 1960-1980. Definitely worth a look.

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  1. what great post. thanks!
    I know nothing of Australian graphic design, but after looking at what I was able to find it’s not much different than any other western design. I have noticed that in general book design in Oz seems to be a little more simpler, to the point… I love that lead in quote you posted by Max. Very funny and true.

  2. I’m an Australian book designer and illustrator. One of the reasons that Australian publishing design is simpler, is probably due to very small print runs, and the correspondingly smaller budgets available for design. What strikes me about design in other places, particularly Europe, is that designers obviously have much more time to explore different approaches, before settling on a final solution to the problem. I can only conclude that they are much better paid than we are. We simply can’t afford to try too many different approaches – you have to almost go with the first ideas you have. And, as clients have become increasingly meddlesome and demanding over the past 30 years, this area of design has become increasingly unprofitable for it’s participants, to the point that many free-lancers are leaving the publishing industry altogether.

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