First Things First 2000
a design manifesto

manifesto published jointly by 33 signatories in:
Adbusters, the AIGA journal, Blueprint, Emigre, Eye, Form, Items
fall 1999 / spring 2000

foreword by Chris Dixon, art director, Adbusters

Back in 1964, a small number of British graphic designers lent their names to a quietly radical document. First Things First was a rebuke to their colleagues in the industry for having forgotten their old idealism and lost sight of the things that really mater. It had the force of a flash of truth, inspiring many ad and design people, and so, by way of remembrance, we published it again in adbusters last year.

That fall, editor/publisher Kalle Lasn and I were visiting New York City for a branding conference and stopped in to meet the legendary designer Tibor Kalman. Tibor was ill with the cancer that would, less than eight months later, claim his life, yet his eyes were clear. He thumbed through the issue of Adbusters we had brought for him. When he came across the the manifesto he paused and gazed out the window. Finally he turned back to us and said: "You know, we should do this again."

So we did. Joined by design critic Rick Poynor, we re-drafted the original manifesto, bringing the language up to date while trying to retain the original spirit. Ken Garland, the driving force behind the 1964 manifesto, visited the Adbusters office from London and gave his nod to the project. With Poynor, as well as Rudy VanderLans of Emigre magazine, we began soliciting endorsements from some of the most prominent designers around the world. Finally, Max Bruinsma, then editor of Eye, suggested that the manifesto was bigger than a single magazine, and should be launched simultaneously in the design industries most influential publications. This fall, Adbusters, along with the six magazines mentioned above, will renew First Things First and, we hope, launch a new debate around the flash that refuses to fade.

FTF2000 :

by Rick Poynor

original Manifesto, 1964

by Jouke Kleerebezem

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