Graphic Design Archive is a dynamic new Web site featuring 30 individual designer archives that have been steadily assembled at Rochester Institute of Technology for the past 25 years. Administrated by RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection, located in the Wallace Center, the online portal documents the most important repository of primary resources material available in graphic design.
The launch of the long-planned Web portal was facilitated by numerous RIT faculty and staff. They include Vignelli Distinguished Professor Roger Remington and Associate Professor Bruce Meader—faculty members at RIT’s School of Design in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences; Chandra McKenzie, associate provost and RIT Libraries director; and Kari Horowicz, library liaison for the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
Also involved with the project was David Pankow, curator of RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection—highly recognized for its extensive holdings in graphic communications history and printing technology.
“The Cary Graphic Design Archive is a collection of important archives of designers not all of whom were born in the United States but who have spent major portions of their careers working here in the field of graphic design,” he explains. “Collections started to be deposited at RIT in 1984 through the vision of Roger Remington, and began with a very important archive of Lester Beall, a significant designer in the 1950s and 1960s.”
Easy to use for students, faculty, museum curators or graphic design enthusiasts, Graphic Design Archive Online is a significant go-to-Internet-site for browsing and educational research opportunities—complete with a timeline, history about modern design movements, biographies of designers represented and sample images of their work, plus links to RIT educational programs and contact information for graphic design artifacts for loan, as well as finding aids for researchers.
“While many of our Graphic Design Archive collections represent the complete surviving work of a particular designer, some are smaller sample collections that document a portion of a designer’s career,” Pankow explains. “We’ve included documentation about their working lives and provided visual samples of their designs.”
As Pankow says, the Web design is sophisticated, stylish, elegant and user friendly. “We hope to announce to the world our great and wonderful resources through this Web site—which will also serve as a collection and development tool for us. It will show other designers out there that we are serious about caring for these materials, promoting and taking care of them and making them available to scholars and students. I can’t think of another institution which provides the kind of access to original resource material that we do here at RIT.”
Included in the archived roster of notable designers are Massimo and Lella Vignelli.
However after the new RIT Vignelli Design Center is completed next fall, “Our Graphic Design Archive will continue to seek out appropriate new graphic designer resources, while the Vignelli Design Center will curate the massive Vignelli archive and new collection initiatives focused on 20thcentury pioneers in industrial design,” Pankow says.
“Our common goals will include the planning of educational and publication programs of mutual interest, coupled with a commitment to ensure that all of these extraordinary resources are celebrated, duly cared for, and thoroughly accessible.”