Tag Archives: “graphic design”

Design and Music

The Peter Saville Show was held between 23 May and 14 September 2003 at the Design Museum in London. It traced the career of the graphic design legend who created artwork for Factory Records, including record sleeves for, among others, New Order.
It was therefore natural that the latter composed the score.

The Peter Saville Show Soundtrack is an atypical, 30-minute atmospheric and instrumental piece of music which has little to do with any material released by the band before or after that.

If the usual New Order line-up was not complete, Peter Hook’s basslines are easily recognisable, alongside drummer/keyboard player Stephen Morris and guitarist Phil
Cunningham, who had just joined the band as a touring musician.

I was not lucky enough to see the exhibition at the time or get the soundtrack, but I ordered one of the 3,000 CD-only copies from a website selling rare vinyl records and CDs.

The Peter Saville Show CD
As you can read on the disc, it was designed, as well as the show in itself, by the
London-based graphic design agency Graphic Thought Facility.

Front sleeve:

The Peter Saville Show CD front

Back sleeve:

The Peter Saville Show CD back

Apparently there was no official exhibition catalogue, but the book Designed by Peter
was published by Frieze when the exhibition opened.

Typography, from record sleeve to headstone

Factory Records Palatine boxed set | Photo by @MPoitrenaud

In 1990, the independent, Manchester-based music label Factory, created and headed by Tony Wilson, released a four-piece boxed set featuring its major artists such as New Order, Joy Division, the Happy Mondays, OMD, James and many more. Typography and graphic design always were of prime importance at Factory. The typeface used for the sleek, uncluttered cover design was Factis 90, a font based on the Sans Serif version of Otl Aicher’s Rotis, which had been published two years before.

Rotis was quite innovative at the time, and has since been used by many firms or organisations for their brand identity. Based on my own experience, I think Rotis features some of the most beautifully designed letters taken individually (i.e. a, e, p, b) but does not really work for paragraphs or as a fully fledged typeface, as stated by type designer and author Erik Spiekermann.


Anyway, the Rotis/Factis version used by Factory, and the overall Palatine design owed to John Macklin worked very well, as did the new factory logo designed by Julian Morey. It perfectly matched Factory’s minimal approach and refined style created over the years under the artistic direction of Peter Saville.

Factory Typeface CD Palatine

In 2010, three years after Tony Wilson’s death, Peter Saville and Factory-era associate Ben Kelly designed his headstone. The clean and modernist memorial may look a little bit like a stationery product or even a giant business card, but it definitely looks great, particularly thanks to the use of the right layout and typographical elements.

Cemeteries would probably look less bleak with such well-designed gravestones…