Designing History

Documents and the Design Imperative to Immutability

Chris Lee (Ed.)


In (re)print

Moving beyond the usual genres of form endemic to graphic design’s canonical history, Designing Documents proposes a design history that centers bureaucratic instruments like money, passports, certificates, property deeds, and more. Such documents produce identity, assign ownership, grant permission, and ascribe value. They stabilize claims, memory, and knowledge that would otherwise be vulnerable to contestation or obliteration. Despite their apparent banality, such documents are perhaps graphic design’s most profoundly consequential forms.

This book is the revised edition of Immutable: Designing History (2022). It includes an extended essay that contextualizes the project Immutable as one concerned primarily with prompting a remapping of graphic design’s historical, pedagogical, and practical assumptions.

The reader is invited to participate in considering the implications of a design history of the document, where the designer isn’t so much the auteur practitioner of conventional design histories, but a subject and agency coextensive with bureaucratic authority. As an indictment of design’s occult entanglement with colonial and capitalist hegemony, Designing Documents prompts an exploration of praxis beyond and against design


  • Typesoftcover
  • Dimensions155 mm x 236 mm; 6.10” x 9.29” (portrait)
  • Pages192
  • ISBN978-90-834041-0-3
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Bindingsewn and glued
  • FontBurgess Pro, National
  • Image specs170 black white images