This exhibition brings together, for the first time, objects designed by Robin Fior in England in the 1960s, and in Portugal, between the 1970s and 1980s. Taking as its starting point the British designer’s personal collection, it offers a closer look into one of the protagonists of British and Portuguese design.
When Robin Fior (1935-2012) arrived in Lisbon in 1973, he could not have imagined that the April Revolution would take place in less than a year. His plan was to replace the ‘shoebox’ workshop and the schools where he taught in London for a six-month stay in Lisbon to train the members of the PRAXIS cooperative. Bringing two decades of experience as a designer and an activist of the independent Marxist left in London, Fior became passionately involved in the Revolution and its various movements, immersing himself in the Portuguese cultural and political environment for four decades.
This exhibition shows part of the collection recently donated to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and for the first time brings together graphic work produced by Robin Fior in both London and Lisbon. We present a selection of materials designed between the 1960s and 1980s for various left-aligned and socially-committed projects, including the nuclear disarmament campaign, anti-colonial propaganda and initiatives of informal and libertarian groups for culture, health and work. The objects are complemented with comments from Fior’s ‘comrades’, who reveal the stories and context behind their production.
This combination of work and emotional reflection highlights the peculiar graphic sensitivity of this self-taught designer, who humanises typographic modernism through experimentation with traditional printing and production techniques. For Fior, the politics of the designer are found in detail and poetics; for Fior, graphic design is a linguistic practice. The designer is thus a critical reader and creator of content, responsible for maintaining a game of ‘Thought > Speech > Writing > Reading > Action’.