Dissent has been around for sixty years. which is long enough to have developed a distinct editorial sensibility. But it’s never had a strong design identity — there’s no visual impression of “Dissent” that lingers in the mind. It’s had some unique covers over the years (e.g.: 1969, 1972, 1998, 2011, but these directions were fleeting, and never extended to the magazine’s interior.
But if Dissent placed little emphasis on visual presentation for most of its history, it wasn’t alone. Design and branding have been dismissed by the left for years, especially in America and England. The trend is changing (consider Jacobin, the gnashingly leftist magazine given visual life by Remeike Forbes), but the assumption that design is a distasteful concession to the marketplace is still prevalent. Radical ideas get paired with reactionary aesthetics.
So when a new editorial team at Dissent approached us to redesign the magazine, we were eager to have a go.
The result is a design language that’s restrained and sharp, with moments of wild volume. This stays consistent from the logo through to the design system, which is uncompromising and systematic. The magazine is typeset according to a set of rules rather than being newly art directed. In look and process it’s as far from our work on Bidoun as you can get. There are some louder design gestures, such as the centerfold pullquotes, but even these are typeset systematically.