Italian Job

SEA Design has teamed up with Fedrigoni and the AIAP to showcase an amazing collection of rarely-seen postwar Italian graphic design, which will go on show in London early next month. 

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Giancarlo Iliprandi RB Rossana poster 1971 (50x70cm)

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Giancarlo Iliprandi Series of posters for Arflex 1970 (50x70cm)

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Giancarlo Iliprandi Series of posters for Arflex 1970 (50x70cm)

We're hugely excited about an exhibition opening downstairs at Grafik HQ next month, which features a wealth of postwar Italian graphic design, on loan from the Associazione Italiana Design della Comunicazione (AIAP). Created by SEA Design and Fedrigoni, the exhibition features many famous names such as Massimo Vignelli, Franco Grignani and Bob Noorda, as well as many who are not so well-known outside of Italy but have produced a wealth of stunning work.

To coincide with the event, as well as a limited edition Made in Italy case bound book, a brand new poster and a reproduction of a poster designed by Giancarlo Iliprandi, SEA has created the Design Series, which is is an edition of four collectable booklets, each focusing on one Italian graphic designer. There's also a rare chance to hear the AIAP's Francesco Guida talk about the work on display at 1pm on Friday 12 June.

We caught up with SEA Design's Bryan Edmondson to find out more about the show:

How did this project first come about?
SEA has worked with Fedrigoni on various campaigns over the past couple of years, notably the ongoing flagship brand, Sirio - 'The Art of Colour'. We discussed the idea of Fedrigoni and its rich design history and most importantly its unique position of actually being a paper maker rather than just a merchant, and making beautiful paper since 1888... pretty impressive. They are makers and artisans so the idea came from that and Fedrigoni's long association with design (and specifically Italian design). We then went away and thought about a campaign to promote the idea of 'Making' and 'Design Heritage'

What was your reaction when you first visited the AIAP archive?
We were aware of the archives by our friend Simon Esterson – he unfortunately could not make the visit. The archives are rarely viewed in the manner of our visit – it was simply a treasure trove of wonderful postwar Italian graphic design.

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Heinz Waibl Contenotte Poster 1981 (68x99cm)

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Heinz Waibl Contenotte Restany Ecosistema Poster 1983 (68x99cm)

Did you know much about Italian graphic design before you started working on the exhibition, and have your ideas about it changed since?
I knew very little apart from the obvious names, however I knew the work visually. Putting names to individual pieces was fantastic, and also discovering the bloodline of designers who created design teams which have influenced modern design studios. I love Italian graphic design – it has obvious influences across Europe, and I love some of its brutal aspects.

What’s your take on the reason why the postwar Italian graphic designers didn’t receive the recognition that their fellow European counterparts did?
I presume language? We know the work although maybe unlike their Dutch counterparts of the 50s/60s/70s they had the international language to reach out further.

Approximately how many pieces are featured in the exhibition, and how did you go about selecting them?
Approx 200 pieces in their original state – from posters to packaging to type specimens.

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Franco Grignani Alfieri & Lacroix poster 1960 (67x92cm)

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Salvatore Gregorietti, Unimark International Covers for the Venice Biennale catalogues (1970)

What are your stand-out pieces? Any that you’d like to take home?
Yes, plenty. My favourite is a piece of work I've known for many years however never quite known the designer responsible. We are producing a reproduction of a poster by Giancarlo Iliprandi – I would love the original.

Tell us about the series of posters you’ve created as a response to the exhibition...
The campaign posters are colour sampled from our favourite pieces, with the typographic arrangement of Made In Italy (Poster Bodoni and Fututa Extra Bold and Light by Monotype of course). There are three different colour variations and editions – 150 of each. The reproduction of Giancarlo's piece has been a painstaking process of working from an archive image, with approval by him at every stage, to match each colour exactly to the original. It's a stunning reproduction.

Click here to register for the Made in Italy exhibition and talk. To request a complimentary copy of the Design Series set of brochures, email:

Made in Italy
12-13 June 2015
Protein Studios
31 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EY