What Would Hadank Do?

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O.H.W. Hadank (1889–1965) began his career in 1907 and worked through the Nazi era in an advertising art capacity. His package, label and trademark design for tobacco, cosmetic and liquor companies were replete with curlicues, swashes, Tuscans and heraldic symbols. But his logos (zeichen) were more modern—simple and elegant.

The Nazis labeled Modernism degenerate, so Hadank was not one of them. Nonetheless, although he worked in a classical manner, Hadank rejected both antiquated and kitsch tropes, rarely using Fraktur type or Jugendstil ornament. Hadank’s work was not particularly “modern” looking; it was the essence of graphic elegance that the likes of Paul Rand believed influenced modern practice. He valued Hadank’s complex compositions because they exhibited a mastery of his craft and materials yet reserved special appreciation for Hadank’s purity as a typographer, letterer and illustrator.

His logos suggest a more complex relationship to graphic economy. These are only a few of the more than 100 that he designed over his lifetime in the profession. And oh how fresh they appear to be.


1936 Pelikan Ink.


1948 Potsdamer Verlag (publisher).


1950 Kali Chemical AG.


1944 Schamotte un Silikawerke Hagendingen.


1946 Neumann-Filmproduktion.


Flugmotoren Argus-Motorenfabrik.


1946 Widia-Hartmetall (division of Krupp).


1949 Anderson & Co. Hamburg.


1946 Sitos Werk.


1921 Gutmann & Weinberg.


1921 Hausrat-Gesellschaft Berlin.

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →