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h.c. ericson: corpus

in about 1995 i was given a book, a smallish hardbacked book, by a swedish friend. it was called ‘isoleringslager’ and i couldn’t read it — only looked at the photographs and the arrangment of text on the page. it was written and designed by someone called h.c. ericson. poetry and image, shapes, objects, forms fading… at the time, although it felt like something, it also felt not quite, but almost. it sat on the shelf.

a couple of years later i came across another book by the same person, a larger format with more complex binding and materials, a book as object that again i couldn’t read, but this time studied the marks and lines, ellipses and spirals, and the huge bold brightly coloured text that ran throughout the book, the almost children’s book that wasn’t.

h.c. ericson is a graphic designer, a swede. since the sixties he’s worked for numerous commercial clients and has won awards, had exhibitions and taught at colleges in sweden and elsewhere. he says “i think i could sit for a hundred years with a capital ‘L’ and five colours and still find new ways of using them.” from one point of view he embodies a generation of designers, similar around the world; the sixties commercial artist/graphic designer, committed to the business of design as function, as rubric and pun, as that certain kind of idea that is most definitely recognised as an idea, rather than as concept, as allusion.

but then … then there are his books. and then there is a new one, his first in english: corpus. published in 2004 by carlsson bokforlag, stockholm, sweden. a 14” x 7”, 200- or so-page ‘life in letterforms’.

a book like this is always hard to describe: it is, as it is, simple — arrangements of poetry and lyric fragments on the portrait-format rectangle, all set in futura book 10/16, accompanied by coloured line drawings of 3d letterforms that somehow resemble childrens’ toys, building blocks sliced and placed one upon the other, repeating and diminshing, larger still larger, the sparse text singing of emptiness, of hearing, of wounds, of memory and love, of the stranger as oneself, of “the search for a particle so small that it doesn’t exist so cannot be seen nor weighed nor counted on.”

this book is a simple, beautiful thing that carries a whole life inside it — a life in and out of graphic design, a book in and of graphic design.


Book Information
Corpus by H.C. Ericson
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Carlsson bokf�rlag (2004)
ISBN: 9172035811

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ARCHIVE ID 1952 FILED UNDER Book Reviews
PUBLISHED ON May.14.2004 BY graham
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Jason’s comment is:

graham :

Thanks for posting this review. I always enjoy learning about new designers, and especially ones like Ericson who float someplace between art and design. It's not always about clients, logos, and problem solving. Corpus looks like a worthwhile read, and capable of helping me escape into something lyrical.

On May.15.2004 at 09:50 PM