Chicago’s Design Meat Market

Chicago is known for its meatpacking factories. Thanks to author Upton Sinclair’s 1906 muckraking novel The Jungle, The Windy City’s slaughterhouses were more or less made healthier for the workers. But that’s not our theme for today. Chicago has long promoted its designers and illustrators through a booklet known unambiguously as “27 Chicago Designers.” Each designer invited to show their “creative abilities” is given three pages on which to show anything that will serve them well.

The pages below are from the 1936 and 1940 editions. Printing, typesetting and paper were supplied by various Chicagoan vendors. The incredible thing is its currency. Brighten up the pages a bit and the typography and imagery – even a few of the modernistic conceits – are as current today as then. And yes, even the foreword from 1936 reads like it could have been written in 2014:

A room, a book, a building, a machine, a highway, a bridge, a dress and a hat, a product, a package, a booklet, an advertisement, are all designed. The designer creates order and beauty through harmonies of elements proportions, and colors. Look through this book of design and observe how these talents crystallize ideas so that they meet you half way off the page.

 

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