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FHK Henrion (1914–1990): The Rational Idealist

This monograph explores the contention that the designer FHK Henrion, although a largely neglected and undervalued figure today, was the most important and influential force in the shaping of contemporary British graphic design practice. The book was written, art directed and co-published by Shaughnessy, and resulted from extensive research into the tumultuous life and glittering career of this intellectually sophisticated German émigré designer.

The book, published in October 2013, contains new research into Henrion’s relationships with leading political and cultural figures of the period. It also includes a study of Henrion’s prescient thinking on the nature of television in the 1950s, which reveals him to be a far-sighted and progressive advocate of television as the primary visual medium of the age.

Through interviews with people who knew him, and with access to his vast archive held at the University of Brighton Design Archives, Shaughnessy reveals a picture of Henrion as an intellectually sophisticated practitioner who pioneered corporate identity, introduced the idea of systematic design management into British business culture, and shaped contemporary practice in ways that are rarely recognised by today’s practitioners. As well as being an assiduous cataloguer of material relating to his multifaceted career (product designer, exhibition designer and television design innovator), Henrion was a prominent member of the leading professional bodies of the period, which has resulted in extensive documentation – much of it unpublished – providing insight into his efforts to transform British design from a cottage industry to an international force of world renown. The publication of the book will be accompanied by symposia and exhibitions in Spring 2014.