The Department of Advertising and Graphic Design.

As a designer I work for a pretty great company. I know a lot of people bag on Hallmark, but as a design house we do really amazing work (yes I think of us as a design house, not a card company. We make much more than cards). It’s not a perfect job, but it is fun, and I get to be extremely creative working on some pretty fun projects.

Now if I got to choose another place to work, I have to admit I think working for “The Department of Advertising and Graphic Design” at MoMA would be pretty awesome.

You would be living in New York, working for one of the greatest art institutions in the world, and designing some really amazing stuff (everything from posters to way finding systems, to interactive applications and websites). Seriously, check out the work this small team of 11 have been producing. It might make you say you want to work here too. You just need to get in line behind me though.



FontFonts Annual Report on… Fonts

2011 was a big year the font foundry FontFonts. Over the course of the year, they released a number of new fonts, and had 4 of them added to the permanent collection at MoMa. To celebrate the work, and the award, they have for the first time in their 22 year history released an annual report that highlights their work in a well designed document filled with information about FontFonts as well as what happened in 2011.

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Design Friday, Ilustrator David Klein.

There is a certain quality that can only be achieved by using traditional media in illustration. A softness, or naturalness that is hard to duplicate with digital tools no matter how good you are. I work on a computer everyday, in programs like Photoshop, and Illustrator, After Effects and Flash. No matter how long I have been using these digital tools, there are certain looks I simply can’t get unless I go back to the traditional mediums I was trained in. I think that is why I am so drawn to David Klein’s illustrations. This prolific illustrator was everywhere when I was growing up. His images appearing in so many locations they are time stamped on my mind. The thing is though, as I revisited them for todays Design Friday post, there was something about the natural quality of gauche, ink, pencil, and silk screen that struck a chord with me.

Illustrator David Klein was born in El Paso, Texas in February of 1918. in He moved to California in 1938 where he attended the Art Center School [later renamed the Art Center College of Design] in Los Angeles.

Early on during the 1930s, Klein was an active member of the California Watercolor Society. This group often chose to paint watercolors depicting scenes of everyday life in the cities and suburbs of California. One of the key factors was that they painted directly with little or no preliminary pencil drawings, and used paper as a ‘color’ in a new and creative way.

In 1941 Klein, like so many other Americans joined the army. During his service,  he illustrated numerous army manuals and technical documents. In 1947, the United States Air Force received more than 800 works of art from the United States Army and in 1953, in conjunction with the Society of Illustrators, in which Klein was a long-time member, the Air Force Art Program was formed. This collection features numerous works by Klein, some of which went on to be exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute.

In 1946 Klein relocated to New York City and settled in Brooklyn Heights, where he would live for the next 60 years. By 1947, Klein was working as an art director at Clifford Strohl Associates, a theatrical advertising agency. Through this connection Klein quickly became the illustrator of choice for many of Broadway’s best-known shows of the period. Klein’s posters and window cards from this period include: Death of a Salesman, Brigadoon, Most Happy Fella, The Music Man, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This body of work remains one of the enduring hallmarks of this golden age of Broadway.

What Klein might be best known for though is his influential work in the field of travel advertising. During the 1950s and 1960s, Klein designed and illustrated dozens of posters for Trans World Airlines (TWA). Through his use of bright flat color, abstract style, and international style layouts, Klein defined the state of poster art of the period. In 1957 a TWA poster of New York City became part of the permanent collection of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York. These works are much imitated and to this day define the excitement and enthusiasm of the early years of post-war air travel. They defined the Jet Set style and have become iconic.

In 1967, Klein’s cutting edge illustration for First National City Bank of New York (Citibank) won a Printing Industries of American National Graphics Award as well as an award from the Society of Illustrators. It was Klein use of overlays, and transparent colored acetates to create a series of animal prints made from geometric shapes that created the award-winning work. First National City Bank used these images in numerous displays, signs and campaigns over the next 5 years. The images were so successful that they were the produced as sets which were sold, ready for framing, right at its many New York branches.

Klein continued to work commercially up until the end of his life. In his 70s, Klein returned to his artistic roots, focusing his creativity on watercolors. The work from this later period in his life is the result of his travels in the U.S. and in Europe and features rural, natural scenes as well as architectural studies of buildings in Europe, particularly Venice. This work. Examples of Klein’s early and later watercolors are in the permanent collection of the Department of Interior’s Museum in Washington D.C.

Below is a series of images from some of Klein’s most defining work.

Design Friday, Heath Ceramics.

Simple. Good. Designed to last a lifetime. That’s three ways to describe the products of Sausalito-based Heath Ceramics, the pottery founded in 1948 by Edith Heath, but “beautiful” is usually the first word that comes to mind. Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining mid-century American potteries still in existence today. Heath has been making ceramic tableware and tile for over a half-century in their Sausalito, California factory. The crew of 60 skilled artisans, many which have been there for over 20 years make every product on the premises. Heath often utilizes the methods and techniques pioneered and developed by the company founder Edith Heath, from throughout her life.

Edith Heath (1911-2005) founded Heath Ceramics in 1948 following her one-woman show at San Francisco’s Palace of the Legion of Honor. Her pieces were picked up for sale at Gump’s department store in San Francisco and the demand for her beautiful ceramic tableware and vases launched the now iconic company. For more than 50 years, Edith’s life was dedicated to the craft of ceramics and the skill of the artisan. Her passion, along with the legacy of her work in stoneware clay body and glaze development, has given Heath its unique place in contemporary ceramics today.

I thought I would talk about Heath today, since I received an  email this morning showing the 2009 limited edition 3 Bud Vase Set. All vases are glazed with a light coat of Ruby Red inside. the pieces are striking grouped together or separately the geometric forms playing together to create unique plays of positive and negative space. The new vase collection was inspired by the original Heath budvase designed by Edith in the mid 1950s with refined, contemporary lines.. The latest product from Heath is clay vase collection, in Suede Red/ Ruby Red and Ruby Red/ Cocoa glazes, and as always, the quality of the design work is outstanding. Heath as always manages to achieve a look that can not easily be duplicated by others. From the sophisticated color pallet, to the timeless shapes and patterns that are used in every product line to Homeware products and   tile Heath Ceramics hits a home run every time.

Heath has always taken a holistic approach to their design process and it shows with distinctive and expressive forms that are evident in every line. Simple geometry, solid forms, rich deep glazes and textures, weight and quality in production. Whether you are looking at a vintage piece from the mid 50’s or a piece from the current collection, the effect is the same. Timeless, good design.

For the last 6 years Heath has been owned by Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey who purchased the company with a mission to revitalize the brand by placing a strong emphasis on design, handcrafted techniques, and by reinvigorating the company’s designer-maker history. In 2009 Heath was a finalist for Corporate Achievement in the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards, and Heath is represented in the permanent collections of museums, such as the MOMA and LACMA.

4 cup and plate set