Switzerland

Design Friday, Lora Lamm.

Designer Lora Lamm, was born in Arosa, Switzerland in 1928. Educated in Zurich in the late 1940’s, her carer began when she was hired by the upscale Italian department store La Rinascente upon a recomendation from her class mate and fellow designer Max Huber.

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Often times Lamm has been overlooked in the vast history of mid-century European designers, but her contributions to the field can’t be denied. Lamm was a major contributor to the Milanese design style of Italy from the mid 1950s through the 1960s. This post-war period in Milan, distinguished by its intellectual and progressive attitudes, booming economy and companies open to new ways of communication, attracted many design greats from Switzerland, including; Xanti Schawinsky, Max Huber, Carlo Vivarelli, Walter Ballmer, Aldo Calabresi and Bruno Monguzzi.  All of which were  employed by the influential Studio Boggeri, founded in 1933 by Antonio Boggeri.

Many innovative companies such as Pirelli  and La Rinascente  followed in the footsteps of Olivetti by establishing internal advertising and communications departments which were open to creating relationships with a diverse group of designers. Additional companies including Roche, Glaxo and Dompé, Alfieri & Lacroix, Einaudi also hired emerging design talent for use in the development of their marketing and advertising promotions.

After studying at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich, and working for various agencies,  Lamm moved to Milan to work for Studio Boggeri in 1953 with the goal of finding interesting graphic design work. She received small assignments such as designing wrapping paper and packaging for confectioner company, Motta.

In 1954, Max Huber gave Lamm the opportunity to work for the advertising and communications department at La Rinascente. Huber was an established designer at La Rinascente, having designed their logo and introducing a new, integrated visual appearance to the company through the use of coordinated uniforms and a “house” typeface – Futura bold. Lamm’s contribution to La Rinascente included catalogs, posters, advertisements, invitations, mailers, packaging and other publicity pieces.

In 1956, Lamm designed promotional materials for the important Il Giappone exhibit, promoting new products being sold at La Rinascente from Japan. Using the screens of the exhibit as the major component of the campaign’s printed matter, Lamm created a geometric design of traditional Japanese colors. The playful and experimental nature of her work would translate into other designs, particularly when she started using her own drawing and illustration in her work.

Her works, are well-balanced, colorful, noticeable at a glance and generate a sense of wonder and excitement for the viewer. Light and whimsical posters and ads were appealed to a female audience, a goal for the department store. Lamm also used photography or photograms, but always considered the technical printing restraints of the era. Her designs still endure, looking as fresh and modern today as they did in the 1950s and 1960s.

McDonald’s is Bad, But This is Pretty Good.

I’m not a fan of McDonald’s. I don’t like the food, what they do to the environment, how they have impacted our health, the corporate farming principals etc. That stuff could be a whole blog unto itself, and that isn’t what I want to talk about here. What I want to talk about is the wonderful on street advertising done by TBWA\Zurich, Switzerland for McDonald’s. Taking advantage of the closed streets during Zurich’s largest street festival, TBWA turned street crossings into McDonald’s french fry containers. Each of these were placed at crossings near or outside of McDonald’s stores. I don’t dig McDonald’s, but I like how TBWA executed this in a fun and clever way.

Agency: TBWA Zurich
Client: McDonald’s
Creative Directors: Michael Kathe, Martin Friedlin
Art Director: Dominique Magnusson
Art Buyer: Christina Hengstmann
Account Manager: Guido Zehnder

I Wish My Passport Looked This Good.

Later this spring I am traveling to Europe, and over the weekend I dug out my passport to make sure it was still valid. Something I should have done 3 months ago but some how forgot to do. While looking for my own passport I started thinking about the Swiss passports I saw at the hotel when I was in Vienna, Austria a couple of years ago. Everything about them said, “Someone actually thought about how I look. I was designed by a non-government agency.”

The Swiss passport before January 2003.

One of the most obvious visual icons for any country is its flag, and yet Switzerland is one of the only countries I know of that leverages this visual asset in the design of its passport.

The Swiss passport (introduced in 2003) takes full advantage of the bold design of its flag, a bright red leather cover with the equilateral cross strategically positioned below five lines of copy that simply declare “Swiss Passport” in white Helvetica type. The cross is quietly mirrored in a debossed pattern that radiates out and across the cover of the document. Everything about this tells any viewer at a glance what the country of origin is of the holder.

Like the cover, the interior is treated with the same level of respect. Every page is well designed, and includes the iconic white cross on each spread. The anti-counterfitting mechanisms that cover the backgrounds are well thought out colorful geometric patterns that visually highlight the cross. Each page contains a bold outlined page number centered at the top next to an image that marks a point of historical significance to the country.

Switzerland as whole is extremely savvy about displaying their country as an integrated brand. This is shown in everything from banknotes, to public signage, so it is no surprise to see that they have treated the simple passport as a vehicle to showcase their design known how and brand savvy to the world.