Peter Wildbur
Willi Kunz, Typography:
Macro- and Microaesthetics

In Typography: Macro- and Microaesthetics the author makes a convincing case for re-establishing the basic principles of typography which date back to the days of movable type and which were redefined by the Modernist movements of the 20s and 30s. The recent erosion of these values and their replacement by purely personal criteria has overridden the previous norms of readability and legibility both in print and on screen. The author compares these traditional typographic principles with those of language where a disregard for grammar and syntax lead to a similar breakdown of communication.

Typography: Macro- and Microaesthetics is divided into four parts with part 1 consisting of a discussion of the basic elements of typography: the alphabet, numerals and special characters, which form the DNA-like code of all typographic communication. Part 2 introduces the concept of the grid and the ordering of typographic material for different applications while part 3 considers the micro and macro elements of the title or the ordering of the visual hierarchies of design. Part 4, ‘Synthesis’, brings together the earlier material and is mainly illustrated with the author’s elegant cultural ‘timetables’ for Columbia University.

The author is entirely at home with the asymmetrical tradition of design but the reviewer would have liked to have seen some discussion about the overwhelming functional and aesthetic arguments in favour of the non-centred approach. Nevertheless the book presents a clear statement of basic principles and is an exemplary example of book design.