Octavo Issue 90.7, 1990
Octavo is a fascinating publication created by design studio 8VO. Made up of 8 Issues–7 printed and the final eighth issue released as a CD–the publication ran from 1986 to 1992. At the time, it introduced, to what the studio felt was a stuffy British graphic design industry, the Swiss International style and the rationalisation of modernism. The publication makes its position clear with Issue 1, stating that although " Octavo 86.1 features mostly English work, later issues will be more international in flavour – (it would be difficult to complete eight issues of a publication with examples of good English typography. As a nation our respect for tradition, nostalgia, fashion, and our love affair with symmetry make such a proposition unthinkable). As editors we take an international, modernist stance. This is necessary in England."
Of course, the assumption that British graphic design was hermetically sealed off from Europe in the mid 80s was perhaps a bit of a reach, the spirit of enquiry and a dedication to such a point of view in a publication, of which we solely lack now, positioned it as somewhat pioneering.
Further, that this series, aside from the eight CD issue, was a light 16pp booklet is a remarkable statement, and a format that saw the series as having a fluidity–each issue had its own internal logic, occasional subverting readability in favour of a inventive organisational principle for a more cerebral challenge. Yet, while there is great variation between issues, the modernist spirit runs throughout these.
This copy of 90.7 is in good condition. As it features a dark ink across the transparent cover, there is little apparent discolouration. Interior pages are bright white, and the print quality remains exceptional. The issue was published in 1990 – at the beginning of an economic recession – and cost £40,000 for a print run of 4000!
Title: Octavo, 90.7
Binding: Saddle stitch
Outer: Translucent dust jacket.