The Daily Heller: Design That is Worth the Paper it is Printed On

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Graphic designers both draw on and are drawn to paper. Here are some modern artifacts neatly showing different designers’ approaches and personalities, representing a few of the 39 issues of the promotional series “Design & Paper,” published by Marquardt and Co. from around 1935–1950 (the issues are undated).

Each stapled, stitched or thread-bound issue is a small brochure that shows the work of leading, mostly American, practitioners. There were two by Ladislav Sutnar (No. 13, “Controlled Visual Flow,” and No. 19, “Shape, Line and Color”) as well as an issue devoted to cartoonist and illustrator Saul Steinberg. Others focused on themes, like George Loewy’s industrial design, Edward Bernays’ (the “inventor” of public relations) philosophy, and the history of the Art Directors Club. Special features showcased design and typography by Alexey Brodovitch, Erik Nitsche and McKnight Kauffer, and each booklet was custom designed, most with essays.

Together they comprise evidence of the Midcentury American Modern approaches that are invaluable to both scholar and practitioner today.

Robert M. Jones: “His visual caprices have a merry verve.”

Despite a few period stylistic quirks, the type, typography and overall design of many of these “Design and Paper” brochures could easily have been conceived and produced today. It is interesting that humor, scale, gesture, simplicity and white space is so contemporaneous. Although the tools of composition and reproduction regularly change, the aesthetic qualities do not.

(Left top): Issue Number 32 on Clarence John Laughlin, the New Orleans photographer. (Right Top): Issue Number 22 on Robert A. Schmid, advertising and research Vice-President for Mutual Broadcasting Company. (Left second row): Arnold Roston’s cover for the Art Directors Club edition. (Right second row): E.McKnight Kauffer makes posters . . . that have the status of exhibition pieces. (Left third row): George Krikorian’s cover of issue on Edward Bernays and the American mind. (Right third row): Gene Moore, display director for Bonwit Teller, New York. (Bottom): Title page Number 15, lettering issue.