Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

‘Gastrotypographicalassemblage’ — Lou Dorfsman’s Most Impressive Creation

November 11, 2010, 12:50 AM

Just like the other greats, Lou Dorfsman‘s work is always a pleasure to watch, to analyze, to admire silently, filled with awe. Known mostly for overseeing the identity of the CBS channel for more than 40 years, Lou Dorfsman was a master typographer and designer, involved in all the aspects of CBS’ branding. Luckily, the Shoreditch-based Kemistry Gallery recently held an exhibition presenting one of Dorfsman’s most impressive works, the 11-metre wide handmade wooden typographic wall entitled “Gastrotypographicalassemblage”.

The exhibition's poster

Here are some more details from the gallery’s website (link):

Created during an era when designers were both artisans and well-trained communicators, the wall is the largest modern typographic artefact in existence, described by Michael Bierut as ‘an irreplaceable piece of design history.’ With custom type created by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase, the wall contains almost 1500 individual characters.

“There are few pieces that represent the typographic and design spirit that illuminated that moment of history, and certainly none on a scale as ambitious.” — Milton Glaser.

The original wall is still in restoration, but even if finished, moving it would’ve been quite a feat — the gallery showed a large, 1/2 scale print of the wall. Several parts were reproduced in real size, though. Other posters and prints were presented as well, next to a huge plastic CBS logo and an old TV from the wall’s era. More photos after the jump.

Have a look at the pictures (click for larger versions):

The CBS eye.

The print reproduces the wall on a 1/2 scale.

Posters and spreads designed by Lou Dorfsman over the years.

One of my favourites.

A 1/1 scale reproduction from the wall. Next to it, a beautiful letterpressed-only poster.

A printer's type tray, the inspiration for the wall's composition.

The Wall's history (click for larger size).

Lou Dorfsman mini-biography (click for larger image, no need to squint them eyes).

The exhibition's brochure, presenting the wall on one side and all its history and details on the other.

As an ending note, here’s a picture taken outside the gallery, the same day. Typography again, but this time it’s thanks to North Design and the excellent people at Dalton Maag:




So you needed to be rescued from the exhibition, didn’t you! :)

Pretty much, they had an out-of-print book, “Dorfsman & CBS”, £120 — almost blew all my money on it, good thing they dragged me out just in time :))


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