Krister Bladh

Concept Designer



The Guardian of the Spectacle


degree project, thesis

Détournement is a strategy used by the Situationists in the mid-20th century, meaning a communication containing its own critique. Here it is employed in redesigns of The Guardian frontpages, which were subsequently sent back to their editorial office as a reversed subscription.

The project is a result and part of my thesis, which examines how the graphic design of popular, contemporary daily newspapers can be manipulated to show the function of the design. Apart from making it look good, the job of a newspaper designer is to make the paper readable and logically structured. That these functions have an ideological aspect is an unquestionable fact which has been shown in several previous studies. "The Guardian of Spectacle" is the first in-depth study of one publication however, which also supplies concrete examples of how the design can be made more transparent and the reader to feel more involved (already achieved in many online editions).

The study's model shows how the most implicit and intrinsic design aspects show the biggest potential for being exaggerated, thus tilting the relationship between design and awareness. This has been done in five ways to five original Guardian frontpages. They were screenprinted to scale at (3)Screen in Malmö, in exclusive editions of 50. This method was chosen because a certain flexibility was required in terms of materials and inks, and it also has the desired associations to manual and individual action that the spirit of the project requires. The whole working process can be imitated and repeated by anyone.

These are the redesigns, and what has been manipulated in them:

Organisation and use of text and image.
- black print on newsprint

Layout in relation to grid.
- black print on newsprint

Use of colour.
- blue print on newsprint

- silver print on heavy paper stock

- double-sided black print on clear PVC

The thesis (Image 6) and the prints were shown at Form/Design Center in Malmö as part of the Spektrum exhibition, 2010 (Image 7).

"The Guardian of the Spectacle - an ideological analysis of newspaper design and proposals for détournement" is published by Lulu (ISBN 978-0-557-47522-3).