Book Review: Fuse
Taschen sent over one of their recent publications “Fuse: From Invention to Antimatter” which is a collection of 20 issues of the groundbreaking magazine of the same name launched by Neville Brody and Jon Wozencroft in 1991. After flicking through the book I didn’t feel confident in giving it a fair review as I don’t really know a huge amount typography (although I should!). I therefore asked my brother who has more of an interest in this kind of thing to write a brief review. This is what he thought of the book:
“FUSE 1-20, From Invention to Antimatter: Twenty Years of FUSE
Neville Brody, Jon Wozencroft
“In a world of generic mediocrity and corporate obeyance, new flowers of exuberance bloom in dark crevices. FUSE is a breach in the wall, a genetic mutation from which new lifeforms can spring [...] Never before has FUSE been so relevant and so necessary.”
The words of Neville Brody open FUSE 1-20, From Invention to Antimatter: 20 years of FUSE with the air of positive aggression and idealism that continues throughout the book. Across twenty editions (since 1991) FUSE has sought to challenge and invigorate the language of typography. Always contained within a cardboard box, each themed issue featured written editorials from leading designers, posters and a disc with four or more fonts for personal use and exploration. This new book (within a FUSE box) from Taschen is essentially a retrospective of all the FUSE editions to date, along with additional essays, conference transcripts, and two new issues – FUSE19 and FUSE20.
The relevance of typography and graphic design in our daily lives cannot be overstated – it infiltrates almost every aspect of modern life. Erik Spiekermann, in one of the many great essays contained within the book, writes: “Seeing how often the process of informing us is left in the hands of people with no interest in the results of that process and with no qualification or talent to write a coherent sentence, let alone a comprehensible one, it seems incredible that information design is not the biggest growth industry in the country.”
I suspect many of us are guilty of simply accepting how information is presented to us – not pausing to think about the fact that it has all been designed and implemented by an individual or group of individuals out of our immediate view. The majority of the fonts and designs offered to us from FUSE’s founders Neville Brody and Jon Wozencroft force the viewer to stop taking information design for granted and make us think about the designer, their motivations and what they are trying to convey beyond mere facts.
I have numerous personal highlights – most notably the posters of FUSE19 and FUSE20 – but it is difficult to fault any aspect of this publication. You would be forgiven for not realising this is, in the majority, a retrospective. Many of the experimental and explorative ideas documented (to quote a cliche) really are still fresh and stimulating today.
With the release of this box-set, Taschen have clearly acknowledged the importance of FUSE, and have hopefully obliterated the falsely secure idea that information is just information for a whole new audience.” – William Cheshire