Ruben Pater – CAPS LOCK: How Capitalism Took Hold of Graphic Design, and How to Escape from It


Valiz, ISBN: 978-9492095817, English, 552 pages, 2021, The Netherlands

This book is a 360-degree tour of the role of the graphic designer and the recognition of their specific weight in communication. The book is divided into three main parts, but organised to be read independently and fluidly. Each section is divided into chapters, twelve in all, corresponding to the respective roles Pater attributes to designers. The first two sections outline the structural connection between graphic design and capitalism, an inextricable link the author wishes to break. The remaining section is written with this goal in mind. It outlines strategies of resistance, with a catalogue of case studies and six different collectives from different parts of the world whose activities and principles are briefly introduced. The alternation of sometimes uncanny history, supportive theory and purposeful practises is ultimately refreshing, linking the striking contradictions that arise between aesthetics and the market in a vision that, as the author acknowledges, cannot be absolute from his biased European point of view. Nonetheless, the many media tactics mentioned can be effective in very different contexts and the detailed analysis and consistent framework consistently support them. It is also important to note that this is a wonderfully visual book, with a balanced amount of text and an absolutely engaging structure, tone and layout.