The American Institute of Graphic Arts, better known as AIGA, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. That’s a remarkable milestone when you consider that graphic design didn’t really exist as a profession until the 20th century. Before that, printers and commercial artists handled such tasks. Interestingly, graphic design owes its rise in part to the First World War, which started in 1914 and set off a scramble for army recruitment and war bond posters. This accelerated the production of posters (and demand for graphic artists) as governments sought to rally citizens to support the war effort. The First World War also happened to coincide with the widespread adoption of offset lithographic printing, which enabled mass production of affordable pulp novels, magazines, packaging and other paper-based media.The graphic arts industry was suddenly born. Today there are more than two million graphic artists and designers in the U.S. alone.
Two things to learn from this video: 1) No matter how fascinating the subject, nearly all videos benefit from a voiceover narrative and an appropriate soundtrack, both lacking here. 2) Although the term “industrial design” did not emerge until the 20th century, the design and engineering skills to produce incredible objects that utilized the principles of applied science and engineering existed long before then. Centuries before CAD systems and 3-D modeling devices, Abraham Roentgen (1711-1793) and his son, David (1743-1807), made ingeniously engineered and mechanically complex cabinetry that incorporated drawers that opened automatically at the touch of a button, hidden compartments, and drop-down writing surfaces – all behind elegantly decorated panels. This walnut-veneered masterpiece was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia in the late 18th century and is housed today in the Kunstgewerbe museum in Berlin.
Rob Forbes, founder of Design Within Reach, has founded another company – Public Bikes. To introduce consumers to his new venture, Forbes recruited 27 world-renowned designers and illustrators to create art posters around the concept of “public.” All of these posters are being gathered into a book called “Public Works,” sold as individual posters, and shown in exhibitions slated for San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
Forbes, an avid biker, urban dweller and environmentalist, explains the impetus for his Public Works project was to bring greater attention to the critical issues of public space, access and livability of cities. “In recent decades, our cities have been evolving from manufacturing and industrial centers into cultural hubs,” Forbes says. “The 20th century movement that encouraged people to leave cities for the suburbs has now been reversed. For the first time in our history the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and this trend appears irreversible….People choose cities for what they offer: connections with people, ideas, stimulation, opportunity, creativity, and diversity. Our public spaces should facilitate these connections, not stifle them.… We believe that more of our urban streets and sidewalks should be reclaimed for walking and bicycling, and that our public spaces should be developed for better human interaction and conversation.”
Preferred by über rich and famous men, E. Marinella neckties have been worn by aristocrats, global leaders, titans of industry and movie heart throbs. Founded in Naples in 1914, Marinella began as a tiny shop that catered to men with elegant taste and deep pockets. Throughout the 20th century, the family-owned business let its clientele from around the world beat a path to its Naples store, without spending a lira on advertising. Marinella himself (now the grandson) would advise customers on colors, patterns and measurements, and then have his artisans custom-make each necktie to each customer’s specifications. Only in the past decade has E. Marinella established boutique shops in a few fashion capitals outside of Italy. This has led to the launch of an advertising campaign telling elite clientele where its shops can be found. Playing off of the brand’s tagline “Since 1914, the taste of elegance,” the ads created by Footbite agency in Monza, Italy, feature neckties folded like an iconic food for which each location is known – Lugano chocolate, London tea, Tokyo sushi, Italian (Milan and Naples) espresso, and Parisian croissant. The campaign was art directed by Paolo Guidobono and Michele Sartori.
One of the most famous fashion photographers of the 20th century, Berlin-born American Erwin Blumenfeld took more photographs for Vogue Magazine than anyone else before or since. His style was classic yet innovative and experimental. Among his most memorable photographs is the January 1950 cover for Vogue, which captures the essence of model Jean Patchett’s beauty through just her eyes, lips and beauty mark. Blumenfeld’s photograph served as the inspiration for Norwegian fashion photographer Solve Sundsbo’s new video for Chanel’s Rouge Allure lipstick line. Sundsbo removed everything except model Barbara Palvin’s luscious lips, green eyes,eyebrows and fingernails. The effect is flirtatious and alluring. Although the voiceover is hard to hear, it’s advice from Coco Chanel: “If you are sad, if you are heartbroken, make yourself up, dress up, add more lipstick and attack. Men hate women who weep.”