The Daily Heller: The Best (or Among the Best) Design Magazine(s)

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The original Gebrauchsgraphik, founded in 1924 by Dr. H.K. Frenzel, continued to publish in an eviscerated form during the early years of the Third Reich. Unwilling to countenance the imposition of Nazi ideology on his editorial content and integrity, Frenzel is rumored to have died by suicide. The magazine continued without him until 1944, when wartime—and then Postwar—privations forced its closure for six years.

In 1950, when Gebrauchsgraphik was relaunched in Munich, aesthetic and pragmatic shifts in the profession demanded changes in the nature of trade magazine publishing; the graphic design universe had greatly expanded. A global economy made designers and design methods more international. Although the United States was at the peak of its production and consumption, Europe was rapidly rebuilding, and graphic design was one of the essential tools for spreading the word.

Gebrauchsgraphik was revived by Dr. Eberhard Hölscher, who served as editor-in-chief for over a decade and was successively followed by Hans Kuh, Hans Baumeister, Prof. Dieter Urban and Brigitta Nitsch. On the surface the new version included a more contemporary layout, but the original was already fairly modern. Futura was still used for the body type, until Helvetica replaced it years later. The covers were still as creatively variegated from issue to issue as they ever were. But graphic styles had changed. The streamlined/Deco cubism of the '20s and '30s was replaced by the expressive brush and pen strokes of the Postwar period. Abstract and sketchy was in, and heavily rendered rendering was out.

While probably not as influential as it was under Frenzel, Gebrauchsgraphik took a leading role in showing the graphic arts world how Postwar design was making a difference. Articles were mostly portfolios showcasing current designers. Today the magazine is an invaluable record of a style of playful expression. It is also one of the most complete chronicles of Swiss and German design of the '50s and '60s. As it segued into the '70s it reflected the styles and trends of the moment, too, when the name Gebrauchsgraphik was modified to Novum—and the magazine’s next era began.