The New York design avant-garde did not think in pure painterly terms, but drew their inspiration from protean notions of need and function; in this respect, they echoed not only European trends as represented by De Stijl and El Lissitzky, but... [more]
The New York design avant-garde did not think in pure painterly terms, but drew their inspiration from protean notions of need and function; in this respect, they echoed not only European trends as represented by De Stijl and El Lissitzky, but also elegant Modernists of an earlier era, like Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes. In the hands of designers such as Herb Lubalin, the quantum kernels of design -- letter forms themselves -- became objects of meaning. Just as phototypography appeared, liberating designers from metal type, Lubalin appeared in the late '50s with his own creative misuse of the new technology. He became known as a type basher, an experimenter who imbued individual characters with meanings of their own. In the process, Herb Lubalin's name became synonymous with innovative advertising, as well as iconoclastic package design and editorial content.
The music business is often credited for the cultural foment of the 1960s, but the advertising world had planned pop cultural upheaval nearly a decade before. Leading the creative revolution on Madison Avenue was the agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, whose copywriters were the first to use cynicism and irony in the formulation of a new "anti-advertising," which stimulated sales. The agency's enormously successful campaign for the Volkswagen Beetle lampooned the auto manufacturer's static designs, the innate homeliness of the car, and the disingenuous marketing of Detroit-made cars. The ads made consumers feel as though they were in collusion with the advertiser, fellow skeptics who were in on the same joke. The rise of anti-establishment ad agencies such as DDB is chronicled in Thomas Frank's 'The Conquest of Cool,' which chronicles the rebel talents in marketing that jump-started American consumerism at the dawn of the '60s.