Design History – 40s & 50s the age of the Graphic Designer

40s and 50s Graphic Design
40s and 50s Graphic Design

Information Graphics

During WWII, graphic designers, illustrators, and artists used their talents to disseminate information and propaganda. Later, instead of promoting countries, the same strategies were used to promote products and enterprises.

Power of the Poster

During the war, posters encouraged people to enlist in the army or provided directions, such as wearing a gas mask. Others were propaganda aimed at instilling patriotic hate of the adversary in the public. Abram Games was the official poster artist in the United Kingdom (1914 – 1996). He was a big fan of catchy phrases and created the renowned ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ posters.

Your Talk May Kill Your Comrades - Poster Art by Abram Games
Your Talk May Kill Your Comrades – Poster Art by Abram Games

Postwar Poster Influence

Designers continued to employ symbols to communicate concepts in an interesting way after the conflict. The Festival of Britain emblem (’51), for example, was meticulously crafted to instil pride in the United Kingdom by showcasing Britannia’s Union Jack colours and head.

Raymond Loewy – Father of Design

Working in the United States, French-born designer Raymond Loewy (1893 – 1986) pioneered the concept of ‘good design’. He recognised that consumers had grown more sophisticated. He advised manufacturers to woo their customers with elegant and streamlined designs.  
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Raymond Loewy featured image
Raymond Loewy featured image

Simple Text

‘Open Sans,’ a sans serif typeface designed by Steve Matteson, is what you’re reading right now. The clean lines of sans serif typefaces, such as Univers, were considered modern in the 1940s and 1950s.

Long-Term Logos

Companies commissioned expert designers to create logos that would last a lifetime as they grew more aware of the significance of branding. They sought to recruit devoted customers who would stick to a single, well-known brand. One of the most successful and long-lasting corporate identification emblems was Paul Rand’s logo for IBM (1956). Rand’s ability to break down the logo into simple, timeless shapes contributed to his design clarity.

Sources

Jones, H. (1999). 20th-Century Design: 40s And 50s: War and post-war years. Heinemann Library.

Important Graphic Designers

  • René Kieffer (1875 -1964) – French Bookbinder

    René Kieffer (1875 -1964) – French Bookbinder

    He was a gilder at the Chambolle-Duru bindery for ten years. In 1903, set up his workshop at 99 boulevard St-Germain, Paris. Later he moved to 41 rue St-Andre-des-Arts and finally, in 1910, to 18 rue Seguier. A disciple of Henri Marius ­Michel, his work shifted from classical forms to motifs in the Art Nouveau style.Read More →

  • Hermann Bongard Norwegian graphic & glassware designer

    Hermann Bongard Norwegian graphic & glassware designer

    Hermann Bongard Norwegian graphic designer and glassware designer. He studied lithography and commercial design. Read MoreRead More →

  • Alexey Brodovitch (1898 – 1971) graphic designer and magazine art director

    Alexey Brodovitch (1898 – 1971) graphic designer and magazine art director

    Alexey Brodovitch (1898 – 1971) was an American/Russian graphic designer and magazine art director. Alexey Brodovitch was born in Russia and worked in Paris in the 1920s, creating books, posters, furniture, and advertising. He moved to America in 1930 and worked as the art director of Harper’s Bazaar magazine in New York after a brief stint of teaching and advertising.Read More →

  • Selwyn Image (1849- 1930) British Priest, Artist, Designer

    Selwyn Image (1849- 1930) British Priest, Artist, Designer

    In 1873, Image was ordained a priest in the Church of England. From 1882, he was associated with A.H. Mackmurdo in forming the Century Guild and designed the first issue (1884) of the Guild’s publication, The Hobby Horse. Read More →

  • Hermann Zapf (1918 – 2015) German Typographer and Calligrapher

    Hermann Zapf (1918 – 2015) German Typographer and Calligrapher

    Hermann Zapf (1918 – 2015) was born and educated in Nuremberg. Gudrun Zapf-von Hesse, a calligrapher and typeface designer, was his wife. Palatino, Optima, and Zapfino are some of the typefaces he developed.Read More →

  • William Dwiggins (1880 -1956) – Typographer and all-rounder

    William Dwiggins (1880 -1956) – Typographer and all-rounder

    Dwiggins was known for his “Metro” series of typefaces, the first designed specifically for newspaper headlines. He produced that in 1929 when he won the gold medal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.Read More →

  • Rut Bryk (1916 – 1999) Swedish ceramicist/graphic/textile designer

    Rut Bryk (1916 – 1999) Swedish ceramicist/graphic/textile designer

    In 1942, she worked for the pottery Arabia, Helsinki; from 1959, she was a freelance ceramics designer with Rosenthal, Selb. From the 1960s, she worked for Vassa Cotton Company.Read More →

  • Pierluigi Cerri (b.1939) Italian Architect/Graphic/Exhibition Designer

    Pierluigi Cerri (b.1939) Italian Architect/Graphic/Exhibition Designer

    He was active as an exhibition designer, designed 1978 ‘Peter Behrens und die AEG’ exhibition, Berlin; 1978 ‘Carrozzeria Italiana’ exhibition, Turin and Rome; 1981 ‘Identité Italienne,’ Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; 1983 ‘Alexander Calder’ exhibition, Turin; 1984 ‘Italian Design,’ Stuttgart and Tokyo; 1984 ‘Venti Progetti per il futuro del Lingotto,’ Turin; 1986 ‘Futurismo e Futurismi,’ Venice. Industrial design clients included B&B Italia, Fiat, IBM, Molteni, Unifor, Missoni, and Marotto.Read More →

  • Zdeněk Rossmann (1905 – 1984) Czech Book Designer, Architect

    Zdeněk Rossmann (1905 – 1984) Czech Book Designer, Architect

    He was a member of the Devétsil group from 1923 until its closure in 1931 and the Brno Devétsil group 1923-27. He designed publications, including Pasmo (1924—27) and the Fronta compendium (1927). His work was based on the principles of Bayer and Tschichold.Read More →

  • Abram Games (1914 – 1996) British graphic and industrial designer

    Abram Games (1914 – 1996) British graphic and industrial designer

    In acknowledging his power as a propagandist, he claimed, “I wind the spring and the public, in looking at the poster, will have that spring released in its mind.” Read More →

  • William Caxton (1422 – 1491) Father of English Printing

    William Caxton (1422 – 1491) Father of English Printing

    William Caxton learned about the mystery of printing in the Low Countries, and it was in Bruges that he translated a French work, ” The Tales of Troy, ” through his printing press.Read More →

  • Laura Knight (1877 – 1970) British Painter and Ceramicist

    Laura Knight (1877 – 1970) British Painter and Ceramicist

    She was a juror of the 1922 Carnegie International competition, Pittsburgh. She designed both the shapes and the decorations for the 1933—34 Circus range of tableware produced by Arthur J. Wilkinson, Burslem, under Clarice Cliff’s supervision.Read More →

  • Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) American artist and designer – art that danced

    Keith Haring (1958 – 1990) American artist and designer – art that danced

    Keith Haring was best known for his graffiti-like painting, initially on the black paper used to cover discontinued billboard advertisements in the New York subway. After after a feverish 1980’s style career of surging popular success and grudging critical attention, Haring died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 31.Read More →

  • Penguin Book Covers (1946 – 1949) Designer: Jan Tschichold

    Penguin Book Covers (1946 – 1949) Designer: Jan Tschichold

    This sofa is designed in a so-called minimalist style that is basic and unadorned. Throughout the late 1980s, this emergent style had a significant impact on design in Europe. The sofa in question results from a significant collaboration between a talented young designer and a manufacturer committed to promoting new design.Read More →

  • Michael Peters (b. 1941) British Graphic Designer

    Michael Peters (b. 1941) British Graphic Designer

    The 1980s in Britain were marked by an apparent economic rebound and a newfound enthusiasm among Britons for business, risky capitalism, and design. Design was pushed as a fundamental ingredient to financial success by a new generation of design entrepreneurs, one of them being Michael Peters.Read More →

  • Herbert Bayer: Inspiration and Process in Design

    Herbert Bayer: Inspiration and Process in Design

    Herbert Bayer (1900–1985) was one of the most influential graphic designers of the twentieth century, with a prolific career spanning more than six decades and two continents. As a student and teacher at the Bauhaus, he used geometry, photomontage, functional analysis, and simplified typography to forge a new approach to graphic design. This book explores the evolution of Bayer’s design process, from his student works featuring hand lettering to mechanically printed typography and hyperreal photo illustrations.Read More →

  • Karel Teige (1900 – 1951) Czech art critic, typographic artist and collagist

    Karel Teige (1900 – 1951) Czech art critic, typographic artist and collagist

    Between the wars, Teige was a prominent figure in Czech art and architecture. He was the editor of many avant-garde magazines, including Disk, Stavba, and ReD, and wrote about photography. Read More →

  • Alexander Girard (1907 – 1993) American interior, & Textile designer

    Alexander Girard (1907 – 1993) American interior,  & Textile designer

    Alexander Girard (1907 – 1993) was a man of many design talents. He trained asRead More →

  • Herb Lubalin (1918 – 1981) renowned graphic designer

    Herb Lubalin (1918 – 1981) renowned graphic designer

    Renowned American graphic designer, Herb Lubalin, best known for his collaborations with Ralph Ginzburg on the magazines Eros, Fact and  Avant Garde,  is regarded as one of the seminal designers of the 20th century. The, 17 March 2018, will mark what would have been Lubalin’s 100th birthday.Read More →

  • Enid Crystal Dorothy Marx (1902 – 1998) British textile and graphic designer

    Enid Crystal Dorothy Marx (1902 – 1998) British textile and graphic designer

    Designs for London Underground seats. She studied painting and wood engraving at the Royal College of Art in London, as well as at the Central School of Arts and Crafts.Read More →

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