Saturday, July 11, 2015

Corporate Graphic Design Orange County

Corporate Graphic Design Orange County

While America was exporting mainstream modern graphic design to service the international corporations, it was still importing design ideas, particu­larly from the European avant-garde. In some ways, there was a con­vergence of the techniques of East and West. Among the Modernist designers working for large corporations from the 1970s (who were also heroes of the Japanese) were Saul Bass, Paul Rand, and the New York consultancy of ChermayefF & Geismar. Bass's trademarks for Quaker Oats and Girl Scouts, as abstractions, have the positive/negative rela­tionships he employed the same photographic techniques as the Japanese in his poster for the Los Angeles Olympic.corporate-graphic-design

Paul Rand, who designed one of the first covers for Ideas, was still winning awards for his company identities (IBM won the AIGA Design Leadership Award in 1980, Cummins Engine Company in 1983). They were in the mainstream Modern manner shared by Chermayeff & Geismar, who had given Mobil a new graphic signage style in the 1960s. The outdoor advertisements of the 1970s and 1980s for the television programs spon­sored by Mobil, designed by Ivan Chermayeff, refer to European models for their papiers colles and their typefaces. Indeed, in Rand's book of essays, A Designer's An (1985), all the modern references are to Euro­pean culture, to Picasso, Matisse, Miro. American vernacular graphics – design without designers (the Coca-Cola sign, Walt Disney's anima­tion, comics) – are conspicuously ignored.

Attention to the everyday Corporate Graphic Design Orange County language surrounding us appeared in Learning from Las Vegas (1972), a polemic by the architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. This large-format book was as impor­tant for its ideas as for its design and production techniques. Typeset by IBM typewriter in Univers, elegantly laid out by the MIT Press design­er Muriel Cooper, its flexible grid allowed the arguments to be made visually by extreme contrasts of density, in refined but expressive Euro­pean accents.

Signs were a Post-Modernist concern. Venturi and others discussed buildings as signs or composed of signs, and as part of a larger 'commu­nication system' which included commercial street signs ('Billboards are almost all right'). Paradoxically, this was at a time when the Highways Commission was undertaking a review of signs with the help of the AIGA.

The signs at Las Vegas International airport were certainly interna­tional, designed by the John Follis office in the Schiphol tradition. Instead of Helvetica, though, they used the typeface Avant Garde. The letters had a functional appearance (like the Futura that Chermayeff & Geismar re-vamped for Mobil). They were geometrical, but designed to be decorative, starting life in 1968 as a magazine logo by Lubalin and Tom Carnase. Since the 1960s Lubalin had moved closer to a recogniz­ably American style, revivalist and eclectic – the style identified with Push Pin Studio, particularly Milton Glaser.

The proliferation of typeface designs on digital data discs led by the 1980s to the availability on a single system of more than one thousand designs. Linotype, for example, had five versions of Baskerville which, with different weights and italics, amounted to twenty-six in all. The rel­ative cheapness of the system and the ease with which new typefaces could be generated by manipulating existing designs by computer allowed designers access to exotic designs which had previously been available only as photo-lettering or transfer lettering.

In 1970, Lubalin had co-founded with Aaron Burns the Internation­al Typeface Corporation. To advertise their designs, ITC launched a large-format tabloid journal, unmistakeably American from its logo to its layout. Under Lubalin's art direction it was more like a women's weekly than a technical news-sheet. In fact, during the 1970s, many magazines changed their typefaces for the heading of each article (like the New York weekly art-directed by  Milton Glaser), and came more and more to resemble ITC publicity.

Glaser was the American designer most admired abroad. His eclectic interests were shown at the Pompidou Centre's one-man exhibition: he worked comfortably in narrative illustration and Victorian-style typog­raphy, and sometimes, brilliantly, in a modernist idiom of geometry and sans-serif type. He redesigned Paris Match in 1972, in a smaller format, at the same time nearly doubling the size of Widmer's exquisite Jardin des Modes.

Art-school students went to Europe, many to the Basle Gewerbe-schule. If they had come for the bland recipes of Armin Hofmann, they came away with Weingart's enthusiasm for breaking rules – for typo­graphic expressionism. This helped to create a 'new wave', in which elec­tronic technology was used to generate and manipulate type and imagery, and the microcomputer became a design tool. The wave swept up many of Modernism's formal elements (typeset 'rules' and sans-serif types) and emptied them out on the paper in curves, at odd angles and in fad­ing perspective. The tide flowed most strongly in California, but also at the Cranbrook Academy of Art on the outskirts of Detroit (where Eames had taught in the 1940s), at MIT and in New York. Corporate Graphic Design Orange County.

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