I recently discovered this lovely series of Kafka book covers, by the new art director at Knopf Pantheon in NY, Peter Mendelsund. I don’t think they are actually printed & out in the world just yet (hard to tell from his notes), but I expect they will be soon.
Though there’s an unmistakable Paul Rand IBM (Eye Bee M) logo riff going on here, but Mendelsund takes this stylist building block, and quite simply builds and builds and builds with it. He creates symbolic meaning in the simplest, and purest of ways – introducing vertical lines over an eye – a prison cell; multiple sets of eyes around the eye – the jury or society peering and judging; a white triangle below the eye – looking down from the “castle”… so simple, so smart. Dare I say, Paul Rand would have certainly approved?
The handwritten typography is a font based on Kafka’s handwriting created by Julia Sysmäläine, design director at Eric Spiekermann’s design office in Berlin.
There’s a good “review” of the covers, and some historical context here.
The 1950′s seems to be “re-inspiring” designers at the moment (including myself), not to mention inspiring television (Mad Men). I recently created this set of “Ready Made” designs for moo.com, for their florist category. Definitely with constructed with a mid-century minimalism, I call them “Florist Modern”. You can actually buy these business cards (among many others) and customize the details/text side to make them your own, at moo.com
Posted in MODERN TYPE
Tagged 1950, 1950s, American, book cover, book design, Franz, graphics, Kafka, Knopf, Lustig, mad men, modern, modernism, Pantheon, Paul Rand, Peter Mendelsund
What could be cooler than finding 50-year-old posters, that were forgotten in a sealed off corridor in Notting Hill Gate tube station in London? Uh, well probably a lot of things, but this is pretty damned cool, don’t you think! Here’s the statement from Transport for London’s Mike Ashworth who photographed them:
Work at (Notting Hill Gate) station has recently uncovered these amazing advertising posters in non-public areas and that date from c1956 – 1959 when the station’s lifts were removed and replaced by escalators. These are in an old lift passageway. We will be leaving these intact – and please do not pester the station staff as the posters are wholly inaccessible – which is why they’ve probably survived 50 odd years!
You can see the full set of posters on Mike’s Flickr page.
I recently learned of the amazing design extravaganzas that are ‘Mumbai taxis’ (thanks CR). Seemingly arbitrary graphics, decoration, patterns, and typographic messages adorn primarily the rear end of these taxis, and one can only guess that there is some kind of informal competition going on here among cabbies, within a shared, cultural propensity for bright colour and symbols. One need only look at Bollywood movie posters to see another expression of this predisposition. See my previous post on vintage Bollywood posters. CR explains that these graphics are also intended as a “lure” for customers, and that the tradition started back in the 1970s, with much inspiration for the taxi graphics and type coming from such movie posters.
The medium of black automotive surface is a canvas for gods sitting along side words like “Speed”, next to typographic flourishes, logos, flowers and rainbows. Many of the mudflaps alone deserve gallery wall space!
I’ve never been to Mumbai (never been to India actually) but when I do get there to visit some friends we have there in the year(s) to come, I will definitely get myself to Mumbai to behold these mad, graphic vehicles with my own eyes.
Thanks to all of the photographers whose images I have borrowed here to make this feature.
Top Images, first image: Coleman Higgins, second image: Elizawr, third image: Betta Design
Bottom Images: first image: fredcan, second image: sampo karjalainen, third image: ypdx, forth image: robyn w, fifth image: JF Vincent