Even Generic Design Looks Good, To a Point

In this Summer 1963 issue of Dimensions (see yesterday’s DH), the superb quarterly magazine of Simpson Lee Paper Company, the theme “The Generic Corporation” provokes some curiously prescient and interestingly political examples of possible annual report covers.

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The cover of the magazine has the ominous look of a prison — indeed a prison that’s spewing pollutants into the environment. The version with the stone sculpture of a farmer scything wheat places a hallo over his head while the iteration with the concentric circles implies the levels of bureaucracy before the workers have any contact with their corporate masters (Marx, anyone?). The electrical generator has a futuristic aura. While the railroad car, well, there’s an eerie historical negativity imbued in it.

During the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s corporate reports were, for some designers, a showplace, while for others it was a business that demanded following tried and true formula.

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