One of the most gratifying perks of working on Graphic Design Referenced — aside from the unbelievably intense pressure of writing 400 pages and making sure we don’t tell any lies — has been the opportunity to interact with many of the design artifacts we are featuring: We now have a healthy collection of 1960s Playboy magazines, 1980s The Face, LP albums from the 1970s, a Lufthansa 1968 timetable by Otl Aicher, and other items. And if I was excited about our previous visit to the Herb Lubalin Study Center at Cooper Union, I can only begin to tell you how ecstatic I was to visit the Graphic Design Archives in the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) at the beginning of this month.
Just one of the many aisles in the Graphic Design Archives at RIT.
The Graphic Design Archives are perhaps the most comprehensive collections of the work of American designers practicing from the 1950s – to 1980s, including Saul Bass, Lester Beall, Alexey Brodovitch, Will Burtin, Tom Carnase, Cipe Pineles, Paul Rand and Bradbury Thompson, among others. On a windy Friday morning I JetBlued myself over to Rochester to spend the better part of the day going through the archives to select work from Beall, Sutnar, Pineles, Carnase and Rand for inclusion in our book. As I expected, the collections and condition of the work were superb, and it was a real pleasure to go through the carefully labeled folders and boxes. I only had a handful of hours as I had to hop on a plane that evening, so I didn’t have the luxury of kicking back and browsing every page of Caterpillar’s corporate identity manual, or read through Rand’s famous presentation book for the Next logo, or bring out the full collection of Harper’s Bazaar to see all the covers and spreads. I only had enough time to make some selections and snap some quick photos to give everyone a very limited sneak peek at what lies in this treasure trove of graphic design history.
Due to the sensitivity of wrongful reproduction or usage of RIT’s materials, the following photographs are, on purpose, not the best and are oddly framed by folders, pencils and my laptop, as well as some being taken in unflattering angles.
Lester Beall’s letterhead and folder cover, die-cut.
Corporate identity manual for International Paper. Top: This is how logos were provided for reproduction in the days before .EPSes and .GIFs. Bottom: Swatches of how the green should print in different paper stocks — slightly more effective proof than today’s PDFs.
Corporate identity manual for Connecticut General.
Corporate identity manual for Caterpillar.
Corporate identity manual for Martin Marietta Corporation, which would merge in 1995 with Lockheed Corporation to form Lockheed Martin.
Covers for Scope, a publication by Upjohn Pharmaceuticals.
Small brochure for Addo-x, titled “Adventures with a Logotype.”
“Transport, the Next Half Century” brochure. I could not keep my eyes off of this one. It was truly amazing.
Holtzer-Cabot Corp. catalog.
Presentation book for Next.
Presentation book for The Limited.
Presentation book for American Express.
Cummins Annual Reports.
PDR Computer Impressions capabilities brochure.
One of many guideline documents for IBM. Very humorous note.
Many thanks to Kari Horowicz and David Pankow for opening their collection to us, and for their help and support with our project.