If nothing else, graphic design aficionados will know Lance Wyman for a single blockbusting project: the corporate identity for the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games. Simultaneously of its age and yet still utterly contemporary, Wyman’s op art inspired designs are a highpoint of 20th century visual culture, an instant visual link to the era that endures long after subsequent Games identities have been and gone.
Naturally, there is substantially more to Wyman’s portfolio than this project. This new monograph from Unit Editions chronicles his life and work, including several years spent in Mexico shaping corporate and cultural identities for a number of other institutions (including the related identity for the country’s hosting of the 1970 World Cup – Wyman is a massive football fan). The depth and breadth of the work on display is testament to the designer’s total immersion in the relevant culture – this involved a four year spell living in Mexico itself – but also his training in industrial design at Pratt in the headily futuristic 1950s. Wyman worked with George Nelson, for example, and then had a long-running partnership with Bill Cannan in the 70s.
The book is a typically comprehensive Unit Editions production, drawing on the thousands of objects in Wyman’s own archives. Although the designer’s route into graphics was circuitous, it was spells working at General Motors and other corporate behemoths that gave him a crucial overview of designing identities of that scale and can be appended to anything. In later years Wyman has specialised in working on wayfinding, signage and environmental graphics, and his studio continues to work from its New York base, with recent projects like the Washington Metro Map proving he remains a vital force in visual design.