Multiple Signatures: On Designers, Authors, Readers and Users

In the tradition of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, Michael Rock, principal and founder of 2x4 Design in New York, explores the history and development of twenty-first-century visual and design culture. This book presents a thoughtful and witty exploration of graphic design today produced by Michael Rock of 2x4, the powerhouse creative firm that partners with some of the most design-savvy brands and institutions in the world to develop design systems that draw on both modernist traditions and the exuberance of contemporary life. Set forth in an engaging and humorous way, Multiple Signatures examines all aspects of modern design, from typography to the evolution of screens in advertising to trusting one’s own creative instincts, through a series of smart and often irreverent essays and images. Using 2x4’s own collaborations and projects as examples, and drawing on the experience of the contributing authors, the result is not a clinical textbook, but a fantastic and thought-provoking work about the limitless applications of design. A must-have for design students and professionals, Multiple Signatures challenges standard ways of understanding design and inspires readers to think of graphic design as a building block for all creative disciplines.

About The Author

Michael Rock is a National Design Award winner and principal of 2x4. Rick Poynor is a journalist and writer whose focus is design and visual culture. Mark Wigley is an architect and dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Susan Sellers is a founding partner and creative director at 2x4 and senior critic at Yale University School of Art. Georgie Stout is a founding partner and creative director of 2x4. Rem Koolhaas is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist, and professor at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

  • Publish Date: May 14, 2013
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Category: Design - Graphic Arts - General
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 5-3/4 x 8-1/4
  • Pages: 400
  • US Price: $35.00
  • CDN Price: $40.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-3973-5


"..a fascinating new exploration of graphic design today, courtesy of Michael Rock, co-founder of the famous 2 x 4 agency, known for their creative work for giant brands such as Chanel, Harvard, MoMA, Nike, Prada... Arguably aimed at serious design students and professionals rather than the casual design fan, MULTIPLE SIGNATURES is actually a collection of essays grouped into logical thematic batches. The essays investigate important design concepts, such authorship, as well as a wide spectrum of 2 x 4 design projects, and even examines common cliches in modern design. This logically leads into a look at design from the perspective of the end-user, and the ways that they play a role in design too."

"Top 10 books of the summer. In this book full of data visualization, glitch art, and critical dialogues, 2x4's Michael Rock and a star-studded rose of collaborators consider the multifaceted functions of design. With coverage ranging from the art of storytelling to typographic analysis, it's a though-provoker for professionals and aficionados alike.” ~Surface Magazine

“Rock buoyantly practices what he preaches in the thinking and the making of this book. Multiple Signatures contains multitudes; this is no straightforward text that’s nicely laid out in precise alignment. Instead, the principal of global design consultancy 2x4 offers plenty of food for thought in four stylized sections and couples provocative ideas--those of multiple contributors as much as his own, that’s the idea--with intriguing eye candy…With this book, Rock explores the act of collaboration and its role in authorship, projects, criticism, and readership--“clumps” that Rock feels are some of the foremost challenges facing those working in graphic design today. Questions are asked, and answers are given in the form of essays, dialogues, collages, glitch art, case studies, cliches, sketches and, of course, more questions. From cover to cover, it’s a heady read that offers guidance and insights as much as good-old entertainment of a kind not usually found in industry titles.” ~ Fast Company / Co. Design

"Michael Rock's Multiple Signatures belongs to a new breed of monograph that showcases the work of a designer or studio through a diverse collage of documents rather than through lavish reproductions. Multiple Signatures attempts to perform the work rather than merely represent it. Some projects appear in tiny reference shots inserted into a discursive text, while others enter the stage as large-scale images that are not so much reproduced as re-enacted. 2x4, the design consultancy co-founded by Rock in 1994, emerges as the book’s primary subject; the book situates the studio’s influential practice within a larger discussion about design authorship and the techniques and clichés of visual form-making."

“This collection of thought-provoking essays from the colleagues and principles of 2x4—the powerhouse creative firm behind design work for Nike, Parada, Moma and Harvard University—surprises and delights in both format and content while candidly investigating the evolution and significance of those very subjects.” ~Communication Arts