’90s Design Timeline

Published:  March 26, 2013
Heath Killen
’90s Design Timeline

If you’ve picked up a copy of our latest issue (#291 — Back to the ’90s) you no doubt would have come across a special ’90s design timeline feature on pages 70 — 71. The timeline was designed (and assembled by hand!) by Katie Lohner, who was inspired by the deconstructivist typographic style that was popularised in the decade by David Carson and others.

You can download Lohner’s original black & white design here (the spread in the magazine is in colour), and below we’ve listed the key points that are featured. We’ve attempted to list some of the major events that defined the graphic design industry over the decade, both in Australia and around the world. Feel free to remind us of any events and milestones that we’ve missed in the comments section below.


  • Tibor Kalman launches Colors magazine
  • Photoshop 1.0 is released (exclusively for Macintosh)
  • Michael Bierut becomes a partner at Pentagram
  • Peter Saville closes his studio to join Pentagram
  • Publisher Gestalten is founded
  • The HTML markup language is launched
  • Eye magazine is founded by Rick Poynor
  • FontShop International is founded
  • Fabien Baron becomes art director of Interview magazine
  • Anton Corbijn directs Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence video
  • Graphic Thought Facility founded


  • FUSE magazine is launched by Neville Brody and Jon Wozencroft
  • Irma Boom Office founded
  • Erik Spiekermann designs the original version of his Meta typeface
  • IDEO is founded by Bill Moggridge, David Kelley & Mike Nuttall
  • Art and design collective Tomato is founded in London
  • Stephen Banham releases the first edition of QWERTY magazine
  • Andrew Hoyne designs the Triple J logo


  • Macromedia launches
  • David Carson starts Ray Gun magazine
  • Factory Records declares bankruptcy and closes
  • Mo Wax record label forms, with Ben Drury as art director
  • 8vo publish the final issue of Octavo – as an interactive CD-ROM
  • The inaugural AGDA National Biennial Awards are held in Melbourne.
  • Beastie Boys launch the Grand Royal label, featuring design by Mike Mills
  • Fabio Ongarato Design founded
  • The first issue of Black + White Magazine is released
  • M/M Paris founded


  • Sagmeister Inc. is formed
  • Adobe releases the PDF file format
  • WIRED magazine launches, with art direction by Plunkett + Kuhr
  • The House Industries foundry and studio forms in Yorklyn, Delaware
  • James Victore designs his “Racism” poster
  • GollingsPidgeon founded


  • Iomega launches the Zip drive
  • Neville Brody starts Research Studios
  • Vince Frost forms Frost Design in London
  • Büro Destruct is formed in Bern, Switzerland
  • The first Netscape internet browser is released
  • Poster artist Frank Kozic launches the Man’s Ruin label
  • HORT is founded by Eike König in Berlin, Germany
  • Cornwell Brand and Communications founded
  • Dunne & Raby established in London.


  • Paula Scher unveils new designs for the Public Theater, NYC.
  • Se7en opening credits are designed by Kyle Cooper
  • Joshua Davis begins working with code at the Pratt Institute


  • Macromedia acquires FutureSplash
  • Vale Paul Rand
  • Vale Saul Bass
  • Trainspotting film poster designed at Stylorouge
  • The 56K modem is invented by Dr. Brent Townshend
  • Steve Jobs returns to Apple
  • Adobe and Microsoft join forces on the OpenType format.
  • Paul Elliman launches the University of Nowhere Internet project


  • The Haçienda closes in Manchester
  • Stanley Downwood designs the cover of OK Computer for Radiohead
  • Vale Yusaku Kamekura


  • Apple announces the first iMac
  • Kenya Hara designs the identity for the Nagano Winter Olympic Games
  • Steven Pavolovic launches the Modular Recordings label
  • Australian design blog Design Is Kinky appears online
  • Lineto.com is launched as the online home of the Lineto foundry (founded 1993)


  • Vale Tibor Kalman
  • Vale P. Scott Makela
  • Hertzian Tales by Anthony Dunne first published by the Royal College of Art
  • Sagmeister has typography cut into his torso for an AIGA poster
  • Wip3out is released on PlayStation, featuring graphics by The Designer’s Republic
  • The Google logo evolves into its current design.
  • John L. Walters takes over as editor of Eye Magazine
  • MyFonts launches online
  • Australian Infront launches online
  • The First Things First 2000 manifesto is launched by Adbusters Magazine. An update of the original Ken Garland text, it is simultaneously published in Adbusters (Canada), Emigre & AIGA Journal of Graphic Design (United States), Eye, Blueprint (UK) and Items (Netherlands).

Special thanks to Adrian Shaughnessy, Chris Bowden & Damien Aistrope for their help with compiling the list.

Enjoyed reading this feature? You can find more like it inside desktop magazine. Take a look at this month’s subscription special.


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