dot zero #1

Dot Zero was the house organ of Unimark, the firm that Massimo Vignelli cofounded with Ralph Eckerstrom, Wally Gutches, Larry Klein, Bob Noorda, Jim Fogelman and Bob Moldavsky in 1965. The prototypical corporate design consultancy, Unimark created identities and graphic programs for American Airlines, Memorex, Target, and the New York Subway System that are still in use today. In its attempt to reconcile what was widely considered an intuitive, artistic process with rigorous methodologies and a dedication to sophisticated marketing practices, Unimark in many ways anticipated the current interest in design thinking in business circles, and expanded the debate on the relationship of good design and good business that continues to this day. In this context, Dot Zero is especially remarkable. Intended as a quarterly, it published only five issues between 1966 and 1968 as a joint promotional venture with paper company Finch, Pryun. In terms of content, it was remarkably ambitious. Its editor, Robert Malone, described its mission in its inaugural issue: “It will deal with the theory and practice of visual communication from varied points of reference, breaking down constantly what used to be thought of as barriers and are now seen to be points of contact.” The list of contributors was astonishing for its time, and the topics it covered (new technologies, transportation graphics, semiotics) were not addressed in the mainstream design press then, and indeed in some cases would not be discussed elsewhere in such depth for decades. Massimo Vignelli was Dot Zero’s designer and creative director. Examining the five issues over forty years later, his passion for the project is still evident. Set in two weights of Helvetica (Unimark’s signature typeface) and printed on white uncoated paper almost exclusively in black and white, the design of Dot Zero stood out in stark relief to the kinds of self-promotion that dominated the profession in those days, and would be equally distinctive today.

Text: Malone Robert, MacAgy Douglas et al. pp. 46; COL and BW; paperback. Publisher: Dot Zero, New York, 1966.

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Dot Zero was the house organ of Unimark, the firm that Massimo Vignelli cofounded with Ralph Eckerstrom, Wally Gutches, Larry Klein, Bob Noorda, Jim Fogelman and Bob Moldavsky in 1965. The prototypical corporate design consultancy, Unimark created identities and graphic programs for American Airlines, Memorex, Target, and the New York Subway System that are still in use today. In its attempt to reconcile what was widely considered an intuitive, artistic process with rigorous methodologies and a dedication to sophisticated marketing practices, Unimark in many ways anticipated the current interest in design thinking in business circles, and expanded the debate on the relationship of good design and good business that continues to this day. In this context, Dot Zero is especially remarkable. Intended as a quarterly, it published only five issues between 1966 and 1968 as a joint promotional venture with paper company Finch, Pryun. In terms of content, it was remarkably ambitious. Its editor, Robert Malone, described its mission in its inaugural issue: “It will deal with the theory and practice of visual communication from varied points of reference, breaking down constantly what used to be thought of as barriers and are now seen to be points of contact.” The list of contributors was astonishing for its time, and the topics it covered (new technologies, transportation graphics, semiotics) were not addressed in the mainstream design press then, and indeed in some cases would not be discussed elsewhere in such depth for decades. Massimo Vignelli was Dot Zero’s designer and creative director. Examining the five issues over forty years later, his passion for the project is still evident. Set in two weights of Helvetica (Unimark’s signature typeface) and printed on white uncoated paper almost exclusively in black and white, the design of Dot Zero stood out in stark relief to the kinds of self-promotion that dominated the profession in those days, and would be equally distinctive today.

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