Just returned from the MODA (Museum of Design Atlanta) exhibition Paul Rand: Defining Design, and if you have any reason to be in Atlanta do not miss it. Culled from many collections are original collages and comps for some key work and many printed pieces that will surprise even the most avid Rand-fan. Here are some highlights.
Next to cash register receipts, common price tags are arguably the most taken for granted pieces of graphic design. Many today are rendered by computer, so why bother showering them with respect. Some are, of course, handwritten without the flair of a true letterer. And most are stock designs that come from a few different business stationery outlets that sell various merchant necessities.
In 1952 Robert Kretschmer, former Display Manager of the Wilber Rogers and Ann Lewis Department Stores, wrote a book on “Window and Interior Display: The Principles of Visual Merchandizing.” Funnily, little has changed since then, even in this digital age. Window display design (and window dressers), or as he called them “the displayman,” is still highly valued in the marketing arena.
Or would they? In the 1930s, graphic or industrial designers wouldn’t think twice about designing cigarette packages. Now, it is the number one no-no. Anyone with a social conscience would cut off their right (or left depending on their orientation) hand before contributing to the danger of others. But back then, before health facts and warnings, cigarette packs were well-designed by some masters, like Raymond Loewy’s iconic Lucky Strike bullseye.
WWII U.S. Army Air Force squadron logos were placed on letterheads or painted on aircraft, but most frequently they were made into patches worn on uniforms. A number of the logos were designed by the Disney Studios, but others were designed by artists who happened to be serving within the various units. They were designed yet, in a way, un-designed.
The now mythic Gastrotypograhicalassemblage (35 feet wide by 8.5 feet tall) three-dimensional mural designed by Lou Dorfsman with typography by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase was finished in 1966. In 2008, it was announced that The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, would restore and display it on their campus. I recently asked Stephan Hengst, CIA’s Marketing Director, to tell me more about the restoration and future for this Mid-Century Modern masterpiece.