Back Office is a response to the fact that, despite the growing number of French publications and publishing houses devoted to graphic design, there is very little research being done directly on the effects of digital technology. While, in English, one finds numerous publications on established fields such as the history of computer science, the philosophy of digital technology, media archaeology, and software studies, this is not the case in French.

The lack of French publications and critical distance about digital technology, which is such a major part of our lives now that the very designation “digital,” when applied to fields such as design and the social sciences, is almost superfluous, is the raison d’être of Back Office. Like its twin magazine, Back Cover (Editions B42), it is a bilingual annual journal that features a different theme each year. Back Office is published both in print and digitally. The journal features in-depth articles, along with shorter pieces on specific topics or innovative pedagogical initiatives, as well as a historical piece, excerpted and re-examined by its author after twenty years, looking back on the ways his discipline has evolved. A technical glossary will be in each issue to explain terms which are often confusing to the uninitiated. In light of the mass of mass media already available, Back Office is focused upon critical interpretation, providing perspectives, showcasing major issues, and proposing ideas to shed light on the current situation and blaze ever new trails.

Issue 5: The Next Dimension

“The Next Dimension” investigates the contemporary appropriation of 3-D technologies by graphic designers. The first computer-assisted design software was developed in the 1980s, and flourished in the fields of cinema (VFX) and video games. Today they are more accessible than ever, due in part to their increased processing capacities, the wide-spread use of free, open-source software such as Blender (1994), and the advent of “real-time” creative environments like the game engines Unreal Engine (1998) and Unity (2005). In what ways can we explore and lend perspective to these techniques in the wider context of the history of graphic design?

With contribution by: Kévin Bray, Emmanuel Debien, Kévin Donnot, Élise Gay, Jean-Michel Géridan, Anthony Masure, Nolwenn Maudet, Tereza Ruller (The Rodina) and Julie Woletz

Printed Version

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19,5×28 cm
144 pages
ISBN 978-2-490077-91-5
ISSN 2553-422X

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Issue 4: Go With the Flow

“Go With the Flow” covers animated graphic design in the broadest sense, from animated GIFs, through television credits, to procedural animations and kinetic identities. It addresses the omnipresence of screens, both in domestic (tablets, smartphones, etc.) and public spaces (advertising or information screens), which forces graphic designers to expand their approach by integrating the unique qualities of each medium. With this increasing diversity of media, the notion of visual identity is shifting and movement is becoming a mandatory part of the design process. What is the incidence of the animated paradigm on design? Could animation be considered differently than a declination or an adjuvant, and thus become a methodology to generate new forms and overcome—finally—the sterile competition between print and digital?

With contribution by: Fleur Chevalier, Olia Lialina, Zach Lieberman, Lev Manovich, Anthony Masure, Mitch Paone, Christian Porri and Michel Wlassikoff

Printed Version

French / English
19,5×28 cm
144 pages
ISBN 978-2-490077-51-9
ISSN 2553-422X

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Issue 3: Writing the Screen

This third issue of Back Office is devoted to various experiences of reading on screens. Over the course of the last decades, this change has introduced deep shifts whose effects are still being assessed. Following the possible end of linear writing, predicted by the “communicologist” Vilém Flusser as early as the 1970s, the philosopher Jacques Derrida reflected on the “end of paper” as the primary medium for inscription. The proliferation of screens and the dawn of the internet paved the way for expression forms falling under the category of an enlarged “graphosphere”, presumably still dominated by the norms and figures of paper (ligns, the sheet, the page, paragraphs, margins, etc.). Could the task of the designer be to accompany, as smoothly as possible, this transition from one technical era to the next, or could it be, on the contrary, to postpone the passage from paper to screen?

With contribution by: Alexia de Visscher, Chloé Delaume, Dan Rubin, Étienne Mineur, Johanna Drucker, Lucile Haute, Nathan Jones, Nicolas Tilly, Sam Skinner, Vilém Flusser and Yves Citton

Printed Version

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19,5×28 cm
144 pages
ISBN 978-2-490077-12-0
ISSN 2553-422X

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Issue 2: Thinking, Displaying, Classifying

Our second issue deals with the fundamentals of notion of indexation, sorting and representation of digitaldata. The ability to stock and translate information into discreet entities is a fundamental characteristic of the computer. The capacity to save mathematical operations to memory as well as compute them are consequently at the heart of the Turing machine, conceived and created during the Second World War. The computer as a principle upon which to base the organization of the world appears in the very long history of memory media (i.e. Michel Foucault’s hypomnemata): writings, maps, indexes, websites, journals, databases, online archives, blockchains, etc., all of which constitute so many attempts at inscribing the complexity of the real. Translating more or less significant data into signifying elements (that is to say information) implies their selection and reduction in order to render them intelligible. This is why “Thinking, Classifying, Displaying” indicates less the need for an order of labor than the requirement of a necessary critical perspective regarding our technical environments. From the standpoint of graphic designers, these choices imply a capacity to translate the real into sensible signifiers, which can never be totally anticipated due to the margin of uncertainty intrinsic to digital media.

With contribution by: Joost Grootens, Stéphane Buellet, Roberto Gimeno, Anne-Lyse Renon, Benoît Böhnke, Peter Hall, Indra Kupferschmidt, Laure Limongi, Nicolas Nova, Joël Vacheron, Jean Lassègue, Michèle Champagne, Greg J. Smith, Sandra Chamaret and Loïc Horellou

Printed Version

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19,5×28 cm
144 pages
ISBN 978-2-917855-98-0
ISSN 2553-422X

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Issue 1: Making Do, Making With

Considering that it was an invention poised between art and industry at the end of the 19th century, it is logical that design once again confront the new techniques of digital technology. These techniques are characterized by a mathesis universalis, whose objective is to reduce any element into discrete binary entities so that it can be computed mathematically. In the course of this process of the delegation of tasks that predated this technology to a machine, has some part of a designer’s “craft” perished, notably in the restructuring of their activities into “professions”? It is these many methods of working against or “with” digital media, that we have chosen to examine in this, our first issue. We will examine and question the notions of tool, implement and “apparatus” within the context of graphic design. A “revolution” for some, a field of “innovations” for others, the series of technical inventions that make up digital technology means that it would be simplistic to merely perceive it in terms of its power to compute, store and handle information, its association with media (multimedia) or even merely as a new “cyberculture” detached from the past.

With contribution by: Lev Manovich, Manon Bruet, Eric Schrijver, Thomas Bouville et David Vallance, Etienne Robial, Pierre-Damien Huyghe, Sophie Fétro, Frank Adebiaye, Nicolas Taffin, Nolwenn Maudet, Raphaël Bastide, Association Signes (Bernard Baissait, Léo Coquet and Aymeric Dutheil) and Outils Libres Alternatifs (Raphaël Bastide, Sarah Garcin and Bachir Soussi Chiadmi).

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19,5 × 28 cm
144 pages
ISBN 978-2-917855-80-5

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Editorial direction
Kévin Donnot
Élise Gay
Anthony Masure
English Version
Aviva Cashmira Kakar

Back Office is copublished by Fork Éditions and Editions B42 (Paris).

Advisory board

Michèle Champagne
designer, writer
Gregory Chatonsky
Pierre-Philippe Duchâtelet
developer, designer and Professor, ERG Brussels
Sophie Fétro
Associate Professor of Design, University Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Jessica Helfand
designer, lecturer in Design and Management, Yale University
Jean-Noël Lafargue
Research Associate and Professor of Design, University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Professor at ÉSADHaR of Le Havre
Marie Lechner
Researcher, teacher at the ÉSAD of Orléans and curator
Lev Manovich
artist, professor of Computer Science at the City University of New York
Luna Maurer
Interactive designer
Nicolas Nova
educator at the HEAD Geneva (Switzerland)
Saul Pandelakis
tenured associate professor of design at the Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès (France)
Sophie Pène
professor at the Université Paris Descartes
Vivien Philizot
Research associate professor of design at the Université de Strasbourg (France)
Anne-Lyse Renon
PhD in Esthetics from EHESS, and specializes in Design, Anthropology and Epistemology
Claire Richard
writer, digital culture journalist
Gilles Rouffineau
teacher at the ÉSAD Valence (France)
Catherine de Smet
tenured Associate Professor at the Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis
Nicolas Thély
professor at the Université Rennes 2 (France)
Véronique Vienne
designer, graphic design critic


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  • What are shipping delays?

    Shipping within France usually takes 5-7 working days, and 7-15 working days to the rest of the world.

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    Shipping fees are €4 for France and the rest of the world.

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    Yes, we do. Make sure your shipping address is correct!

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  • Is there a digital version of Back Office?

    Of course! The journal is available as a pay-for-access responsive website. An iOS/Android app for smartphones and tablets is coming soon.

  • How often do you publish new issues?

    We try to remain flexible but aim for only one issue per year. Sign up to our newsletter to get an email whenever a new issue is available.

  • How can I advertise on Back Office ?

    We have some available ads (half or full page); please contact us to know more.


  • Do you have a press or media kit?

    Coming soon!

  • Can I contribute to the next issue?

    There isn’t call to texts. We do, however, appreciate your suggestions for topics or people you think we should consider; please contact us.

  • How can I sell Back Office?

    Please contact our distributors: Les Belles lettres (France, Belgium and Switzerland) and Idea Books (other countries).

Back Office was born thanks to the support of the Centre national des arts plastiques (Cnap), and with the help of the backers of a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.

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