By Richard Poulin
408 pages, hardcover, $95
Published by Thames & Hudson
Richard Poulin is to be commended for his extensive research and dedication in creating a comprehensive portrait of designer Rudolph de Harak as a creative and generous visionary. This clearly organized retrospective honors de Harak’s design aesthetic and philosophy in its typography, structure and image selection. The level of detail provided about events, influences, projects and inspirations is impressive, connecting the reader to de Harak and, in turn, the author. One of the monograph’s strongest themes is the influence of mentorship and teaching on the designers’ evolution, which is reinforced throughout the book in sidebars listing influences and collaborators. Mentors include an impressive list of modernists, a wide variety of art and music innovators, and experts from diverse backgrounds. The list progresses to reveal de Harak as a mentor to Poulin and his contemporaries. The professional and personal admiration the author has for de Harak is palpable from the first page to the last, and the messages of mentorship, persistence, the importance of lifelong learning and taking chances are valuable reminders to designers at all stages of professional practice.
The volume also represents the changes in professional design practice that de Harak encountered during his lifetime through the profiled projects and images. Throughout his 50-year career and multifaceted practice, de Harak maintained a design philosophy that is apparent in every project. The profiles in the book highlight his prolific, versatile career and celebrate his vibrant, human-centered, eloquent, dynamic and timeless approach to design. —Lorrie Frear