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Elegance Personified: Gustav Jensen

Back in 2011 (oh so long ago), I began a series of “lost designers.” The first and only entry was on Gustav Jensen, the Danish born designer whose work was elegantly streamlined and daringly multidisciplinary. There will be more in my series, but for now a reprise of sorts. Here is the original post, but in this post are images I did not show back then. This issue of PM (Production Manager) devoted to Jensen helps him bridge the gap between the disciplines. It also shows what a special draftsman he was.

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Book Bag

Look closely at these wonderful book jackets. Now, look again. Can you tell a book by its cover? More to the point, can you tell a woman’s bag by its book cover. What?!! These are not books but handbags with redrawn and painted covers based on original book cover designs and found in the various collections and accessory lines by French clothing designer Olympia Le-Tan, who, for those who know the work, is the daughter of the illustrator Pierre Le-Tan.

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Softcore Type

Can type or lettering be sensual, seductive or sexy? Let’s return to the land of l’amour, l’amour et la vie sexuelle — a little continental soft-core magazine called “Séduction.” The lettering alone may not do all the seducing but in context it’s more suggestive of taboo themes than asexual Helvetica. The variations on the word “Séduction” show that there are many moods in both lettering and the erotique act.

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Monogramonics

Not that they ever left, but monograms are back. And they are beautiful to behold. Once the accessory of the aristocratic, the monogram is a vibrant and vital piece of graphic design. Here are some vintage ones to whet the appetite.

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Global Warming or Extreme Weather?

Tom Davie produced a typography print titled “Sweepin’ Down the Plain,” created to aid in the tornado recovery effort currently taking place in Moore, Oklahoma. As a new professor of graphic design at The University of Oklahoma, he wrote me: “I was compelled to use my passion for type as way to help sustain awareness and funds for schools and relief organizations located in Moore and central Oklahoma.”

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Letterheads: Then and Then

Whatever the fate of the printed page, letterheads (actual or virtual) will never disappear. What’s more, they will always change — maybe not as radically as these 1931 examples of before and after, but typographic styles will denote changes in attitudes and technologies.

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Letters Tableaux

Collage and montage were novel techniques and the public couldn’t get enough novelty. Here is an odd alphabet that is both beauteous and disturbing.

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Master Masterpieces of Poster Art

Martijn F. Le Coultre, a Dutch notary who is among the leading poster collectors in his native Holland and the world, started collecting posters over 35 years ago because, he says, “I just fell in love with them.” His focus …

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Do Re Moi

I recently spent the day at a Summer music camp’s final orchestra concert where 30 or so violin, viola, cello, piano, flute and oboe prodigies from 8 – 13 years old played everything from Paul Hindemith to Ludwig van Beethoven, …

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Lettering in the Butter Dish

At the turn of the century, the French Republic was threatened by a military-church-aristocracy coalition and a huge bureaucratic machine dominated by L’assiette au Beurre or the Butter Dish.