Since the surfacing of the term “deconstruction” in design journalism in the mid-1980s, the word has served to label architecture, graphic design, products, and fashion featuring chopped up, layered, and fragmented forms imbued with ambiguous futuristic overtones. This essay looks at the reception and use of deconstruction in the recent history of graphic design,
where it has become the tag for yet another period style. We then consider the place of graphics within the theory of deconstruction, initiated in the work of philosopher Jacques Derrida.We argue that deconstruction is not a style or “attitude” but rather a mode of questioning through and about the technologies, formal devices, social institutions, and founding metaphors of representation. Deconstruction belongs to both history and theory.