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THEREAFTER The Influence of Mid-Century Modernism in Contemporary Design

THEREAFTER Mid-century modernism was a state of mind that encouraged Americans to discard the dark mindset of World War II and welcome new, functional designs full of color, energy, and organic inspiration.


Table of Contents Although Mid-Century Modernism is over fifty years old, the style is still inspiring design today. It is a period of art that is often left out of design history. This magazine is allowing Mid-Century Modernism to have a voice, and reveal its influence on contemporary design.


How to Use this Magazine


History Artists

6 7

Album Covers Architecture Book Covers Fashion Film Furniture Posters

24 34 40 46 52 60 66

Credits Editors

78 82


How to use this Magazine: Throughout the publication, you will see seven icons, each representing one of the seven categories of design covered in Thereafter. Each artist will have one or more of these icons highlighted to indicate in which categories you can find his work.

Album Covers




Book Covers



The highlighted color corresponds to the respective category. For a quick find, just flip through and look for the icon or the color in the upper right-hand corner of the page. 4

Once you find the category you are looking for, you will see two images. The image on the left is a Mid-Century Modernist piece by the aforementioned artist, and the one on the right is a contemporary piece that was inspired by the example on the left. Next to the pair is a short explaination about the relationship between the two designs.

Here is a little bit of insight into the relationship of these pieces.



Now, turn the page and learn how Mid-Century Modernism has inspired your life. 5

History Mid-Century Modern design finds its origins at the German Bauhaus school, founded in 1919. The Bauhaus was famous for embracing modernism and rejecting tradition. After the school was closed by the Nazi regime, the designers left Germany and took their ideas with them. The Bauhaus school influenced design internationally. The International style of design favored materials like steel, and glass contraction, open floor plans, and simple geometric forms. And above all the followers of the International style embraced technology and mass production stating that they were not at odds with good design. The Mid-Century Modern style came into being in the aftermath of World War II. The war introduced many new materials that had never been seen before, materials such as resins, plastics, and fiberglass that captured the eyes of American designers. Architects opened up floor plans to create seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces. While furniture designers created new products in hopes that they could make life better for everyone. For the first time good design was now accessible for the middle class.


Saul Bass Lester Beall Maurice Binder Robert Brownjohn Oleg Cassini Charles Eames Adrian Frutiger George Giusti John Hermansader Paul Kirk Alvin Lustig Reid Miles George Nelson Erik Nitsche Emilio Pucci Alex Steinweiss Ladislav Sutnar Bradbury Thompson

7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 15 18 19 20 21 22 23


Saul Bass

Saul Bass was an American designer whose 40+ year career spanned everything from print and identity development to movie title credits. He worked with major corporations to establish logos and branding guidelines, including AT&T, United Way and Continental Airlines. He designed titles for over 30 films and he won an academy award for his short film Why Man Creates. Also proficient in typography his “cut-paper� style is one of the most recognized styles of design from the 1950s and 60s. He revolutionized the way that people viewed movie titles by using the time to not just display the information but give a short visual metaphor or story that intrigued the viewer. Often times it was a synopsis or reference to the movie itself. His list of title credits include famous films such as West Side Story, Psycho, Goodfellas, Big, North by Northwest and Spartacus. He created four titles for Martin Scorsese, the last of which was for Casino.


Lester Beall

A man with a very technology-oriented background, Beall grew up playing with Ham radios and creating his own wireless sets. He graduated with a Ph.D in the History of Fine Art and the years following his graduation he expressed an interest in modern art movements such as Surrealism, Constructivism and Dadaism. His work as an advertiser and graphic designer quickly gained international recognition and the most productive years of his career, during the 1930s and 40s, saw success in both fields. His clear and concise use of typography was highly praised both in the United States and abroad. Throughout his career he used bold primary colors and illustrative arrows and lines in a graphic style that became easily recognizable as his own. He eventually moved to New York and set up an office, and home, at a premises that he and his family called “Dumbarton Farm�. He remained at the farm until his death in 1969.


Maurice Binder

Maurice Binder was born in 1925 in New York, but a is known as a famous designer in both America and Britain. Best known for working on fourteen James Bond movies, the title that took him to fame is “Dr.No.” His iconic gun barrel scene during the title sequence for the movie is what really set his work apart from other designers. He studied traditional fine art, but moved on through to design and marketing. Earlier in life he was the art director for the department store, Macy’s. Works from this time included advertisements and catalogs for department stores. Despite his high position at the store, he really had a passion for the entertainment industry. So, he moved on to work at Universal Studios, and later Columbia Pictures. His work on “The Grass Is Greener” (1960) paved the path for him to be noticed by the Bond producer, and thus landed him the job for “Dr. No”. He immersed himself in the pop art movement of the 60’s. Bright colors and icons are key elements for his style in his title sequences. Essential elements are colored spheres, flashing lights, and the movements of silhouetted dancing girls. Binder’s style is often viewed as a “visual striptease.”


Robert Brownjohn

Robert Brownjohn was born to British parents in New Jersey and had a successful career in both America and Great Britain during the 1950s and 60s. He immediately showed promise as a young design student at the Institute of Design in Chicago, previously the New Bauhaus, where he studied closely with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. His career ramped up to an early start when he formed the design firm BCG with Ivan Chermayeff and Thomas Geismar. That career came to an early end in 1959 with Brownjohn heading to London, the firm became Chermayeff & Geismar. His career in London proved as successful as his early career in the US with his most notable contributions coming in the film industry. He also worked within several other industries, creating moving graphics for Pirelli and Midland bank and created the cover for the Rolling Stones album Let It Bleed. A 240 page catalogue by Emily King that was produced for an exhibition detailing Brownjohn’s career entitled “Robert Brownjohn: Sex and Typography” held at the Design Museum in London was also published as a book of the same name. Sex and Typography details the adventures of Brownjohn through detailed information provided by friends and family as well as chronicling his career and the work that he produced.


Oleg Cassini

Oleg Cassini was born in France in 1913, but later became an American citizen and served during the WWII with the U.S. Army. His impressive portfolio of sketches landed him a job as an assistant to the famous costume designer, Edith Head, in Hollywood. He worked there for several years, spending most of his time dressing the film star Gene Tierney, his second wife. After 2 children and a divorce, he returned to New York City. Cassini launched his own label in 1950. His stylish, but affordable, frocks sold well and established his name as a designer. Most famously known for designing the official wardrobe for Jackie Kennedy in the early 60s. Cassini is credited with making the first lady an icon for American women. Because of his experience in Hollywood, he knew how to design clothing that would look good on screen, so he was the perfect fit for the first lady. His main principle in designing fashion for women was to embrace the curvature of a women’s body instead of hiding it. Cassini was fond of saying “do not tamper with the anatomy of a woman’s body, do not camouflage it.” The Kennedy administration lasted less than three years, but he designed 300 outfits for the young First Lady, and thus Cassini set several trends for the American woman that would last throughout the decade. His signature style included A-line geometric dresses, pillbox hats, boxy jackets with oversized buttons, and leopard coats that became a ubiquitous staple for the well-dressed woman.


Charles Eames

Charles Eames was an industrial and graphic designer who favored architecture. He attended Washington University in St. Louis to study architecture but was dismissed after two years because he was “too modern.� He left an architectural firm to start his own practice in 1930 where he partnered with Charles Gray and Walter Pauley. In 1938 he moved to Michigan to further study architecture at the Academy of Art. There he became a teacher and head of the industrial design department. By 1950 Eames began to exploring modern furniture design. With the help of his wife, Ray Eames, and friend, Eero Saarinen, they developed pieces utilizing the new technique of plywood moulding, including chairs and other furniture. Eames also pioneered technologies such as fiberglass, plastic resin chairs and the wire mesh chairs designed for Herman Miller, Inc.


Adrian Frutiger

Adrian Frutiger has created some of the most used typefaces of the 20th and 21st century. Although interested in woodcuts and paper silhouettes, Frutiger has been passionate about typography his entire life. Spending most of his career working for Deberny & Peignot, updating typefaces and preparing them for phototypesetting, as well as designing typefaces of his own accord, he has created almost 30 typefaces. Some of his most famous typefaces include Univers, Frutiger, Egyptienne, Serifa and Avenir. Frutiger is one of few typographers whose career spans across hot metal, photographic and digital typesetting. He has also been instrumental in refining his own typefaces to include more weights and true italics, some eamples are Frutiger Next and Avenir Next.


George Giusti

George Giusti attained his graphic design training in Milan but he moved to the United States in 1939. Giusti had a twelve-year design association with Geigy Pharmaceuticals. He produced several important cover designs for books, record covers and magazines including Time, Fortune and Holiday. His desire was to create a bridge between fine art and art for commercial use, claiming that “art is art� regardless of its use. Outside of his print designs, Giusti was also well known for his architecture and sculpture. His designs were characterized by his use of metal. He built his sculptures and architecture out of metal, as well as photographed or drew illustrations of metal objects for his graphic design work.


Blue Note Records Reid Miles and John Hermansader

John Hermansader was best known for his album cover designs for Blue Note Records. He was born in 1916 and spent his early years studying at the Bauhaus. Through his friend, and fellow designer Paul Bacon, he was introduced to Blue Note Records. Hermansader contributed his first designs to the “modern jazz series” in 1953 and was associated with the record label for the next two years. Reid Miles was trained at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles before he moved to New York to work for the Esquire magazine. He left Esquire to work at Blue Note Records under John Hermansader, who, several years later, passed his position on to Miles before leaving the company. As a photographer and graphic designer, Miles often merged his two interests in his designs. The album covers he created combined photographs from either his own work or the work of Francis Wolff with unique typographical layouts. Though Miles worked for years making jazz album covers, Miles himself wasn’t a fan of jazz music. His designs were purely objective, bringing into action the idea that a powerful yet understandable message can be conveyed without the designer having a personal interest in the topic. His work with Blue Note ended in 1967, two years after Liberty Records bought the company.


Alvin Lustig

Alvin Lustig was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and had a very successful career in graphic design and art direction. Revolutionizing the approach to book cover design in the 1940s, Lustig would attempt to get a sense of the writers direction from reading the book and then translate it into his own graphic style (The previous trend was to summarize the book with one image). The combination of technology and creativity in his designs was reminiscent of the Bauhaus, as did his intellectual approach to problem-solving. He designed books in LA for New Directions before moving to New York to become the Director of Visual Research for Look Magazine. He rose to success early in his career garnering work for various clients and working on a vast array of types of projects. He died much too early at the age of 40, in 1955. His simplified shapes and use of flat colors, all while creating elaborate and intensely interesting compositions, are still imitated today by many graphic designers.


George Nelson

George Nelson was an American industrial designer, and one of the founders of American Modernism. He attended Yale University to study architecture. Afterwards he prepared for the Paris Prize and won. This allowed him to study architecture for a year in a palace in Rome. There he was able to meet Ludwig Miles Van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. Nelson is responsible for designing a majority of the 20th century’s most iconic modernist furniture. In 1935 he joined the Architecture Forum magazine that covered the architecture and home building industry. There he was able to interview and exchange ideas with architects like Charles Eames. In 1940 he introduced the concept of a family room and the storage wall in his postwar book Tomorrow House. This book described how modern design wasn’t just a style but a way to solve problems. After publishing his book Nelson was selected by Herman Miller furniture company be the company’s next Director of Design. From there he opened a design studio in New York City that brought together the top designers of the era.


Erik Nitsche

Erik Nitsche left an unmistakable mark on the world ofdesignin his 60 year career. Leaving almost no field untouched, he worked as an art director, book designer, illustrator, typographer, graphic designer, photographer, advertiser, and packaging designer. His graphic design work included magazine covers, signage, film, exhibitions, posters and in 1934 Nitsche studied at the Collège Classique in Switzerland and the Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich. His work has a distinctly modernist aesthetic and although he never had the opportunity to attend the Bauhaus Laszlo Moholy-Nagy has been quoted as saying, “Who is this guy that is doing the Bauhaus in New York?â€? He designed promotional and advertising campaigns for a host of different clients including department stores, feature films, record companies and the New York Transit Authority. Nitsche greatly influenced the young generation of designers in America in the mid 20th century including the legendary designers Walter Bernard and Seymour Chwast.


Emilio Pucci

Emilio Pucci was a Florentine Italian fashion designer and politician. He is best known for geometric prints in polychromatic colors, which are very reminiscent of kaleidoscope designs. Pucci was discovered when photographs showed up during on of his ski trips and found him wearing one of his own designs. His first designs were for the Reed College skiing team. In 1947 he received more attention when Toni Frissell, a photographer who had connections with Harper’s Bazaar magazine, photographed skiwear he designed for a friend. His sleek designs drew a lot of attention causing him to receive several offers from American manufacturers. Instead he set up a haute couture house in the fashionable resort of Canzone del Mare on the Isleof Capri. Pucci began designing swimwear, but really found his style with brightly colored, boldly patterned silk scarves. He used the designs in blouses and dresses after receiving encouragementfrom Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus. When Marilyn Monroe became a fan of his designs his work really skyrocketed his success. She was actually buried in one of his dresses. Pucci was a member of Italian Parliament in 1963.


Alex Steinweiss

Alex Steinweiss had a large amount of design works that coversed several different media. Some of his clients included the U.S. Navy, PRINT, Fortune and Columbia Records. However, he was most recognized for inventing the modern album cover and much of his work lies in the poster-like images that he created while he was an art director at Columbia records. Before Steinweiss the only album covers that existed were brown paper wrappers that served to protect the album being purchased. His idea to create artwork that enticed the buyer to purchase the album had instant success. From 1939 to 1945 he designed record covers for Columbia, during which he created hundreds of distinct designs. After 1945 Steinweiss started to work for several other record companies and in 1974 he retired in Florida where he spent time working on occasional commissioned pieces.


Ladislav Sutnar

Ladislav Sutnar, a Czechoslov born in 1897, was one of the first designers to actively practice in the field of information design. His work was rooted in rationality and the process of displaying large amounts of information in a clear and organized manner for easy consumption by the general viewer. He placed a heavy emphasis on typography and used a limited color palette. While he often used punctuation symbols to help organize information, one of his signature creations was the idea to place parentheses around the area codes in telephone books. For twenty years he served as the art director for Sweet’s catalog services where he created information graphics and layouts for a wide range of manufactured items. Before working for Sweet’s he taught at the State School of Graphic Arts in Prague. He was heavily influenced by Modernism and his work were so well structured that he had no problems communicating information clearly to an American audience, even though English was not his primary language.


Bradbury Thompson

Bradbury Thompson was truly a master of almost every aspect of the design profession. He studied printing production, was an art director for Mademoiselle magazine, designed books, pushed the boundaries of conventional typography and taught design at Yale University. He designed 60+ issues of Westvaco Inspirations for the Westvaco Paper Corporation. His designs reached thousands of designers, printers and typographers. Thompson was born in 1911 in Topeka, Kansas was educated at Washburn University. He stayed in contact with the university throughout his career. From 1969-1979 Thompson worked with Washburn to create the Washburn Bible. The book was the most significant development in Bible typography since Gutenberg first published his masterpiece in 1455. Another significant point in Thomspon’s career, in the field of typography, was his publication of Alphabet 26, which was labeled as a monoalphabet. It contained only 26 unique characters. The case was established by size instead of creating entirely new characters (i.e. r/R, e/E, a/A). Thompson’s work granted him the highest awards of major design organizations including AIGA, the Art Directors Club and the Type Directors Club. He died in 1995.


Album Art




Album Covers

Reid Miles is known for his jazz covers and as the main reference for album cover design. He used photographs and shapes to create rhythm within this 1960 designs. The 2009 design of Mojito Blues is nearly identical to Miles’s setup, and the use of photography would have been to Reid’s liking.



Album Covers

As with other album designers, George Giusti was a huge fan of geometric shapes and slabs of color. In 2009, Muse took it a step farther and divided Giusti’s 1968 rainbow colored ball into prisms with more values, but still retained both the same shape and the same color setup as Giusti’s original.



Album Covers

Large, sans-serif text combined with the power palette create bold, eye-catching layouts for these album covers. The 2013 example draws an almost perfect replica of John Hermansader’s 1955 original, and the effect stays just as strong even after over fifty years.



Album Covers

Linework and geometric shapes are extremely common elements in Alex Steinweiss’s album cover designs. Both the 1941 and the 2012 album design create figures out of lines and attach shapes to them to give them depth, creating still scenes that are still full of motion.







Charles Eames introduced the element of floor to ceiling window design to architecture in 1949. This allowed homeowners to bring the outside in and the large windows are still being used today.




George Nelson was the first architect to incorporate a family room within a home. Since then family rooms have become part of the standard house blueprint.


Book Covers




Book Covers

Alvin Lustig’s 1947 book covers used geometric shapes and carefully placed text to create interactive scenes. This 2012 book cover took his methods a step further and turned the letters into a part of the maze.



Book Covers

Using a shape to create a different and less obvious form is a notable feature in Giusti’s book covers. In the 2010 book cover the silhouette of keys turns into hidden faces in a similar way that the waves are turning into a profiled face in Giusti’s 1973 version.







Emilio Pucci set forth new trends with by utilizing bold dynamic colors and patterns for fashion design. His famous kaleidoscope patterns are popular on apparel and accesories. Pucci’s daughter, Laudomia, took over the line and is bridging the gap between modern patterns with contemporary style.




Oleg Cassini influenced fashion for women in many ways during the Modern Period. One of the affects he had on fashion came from his design of the a-line dress It became an essential item for all women. Contemporary clothing retail store ModCloth is inspired by modernist fashion and Cassini’s style.







Maurice Binder applied energetic movements of shapes and lines with vibrant colors that relate with text. In Pixar’s animated movie The Incredibles the title sequence plays on these same techniques to reference the Modern style. Modernist title sequence design is still apparent today but with simplified forms of the characters paired with bursts of color taking you through each movement.




Maurice Binder applied energetic movements of shapes and lines with vibrant colors that relate with text. In Pixar’s animated movie The Incredibles the title sequence plays on these same techniques to reference the Modern style. Modernist title sequence design is still apparent today but with simplified forms of the characters paired with bursts of color taking you through each movement.




Saul Bass abstracted forms and experimented with fragmentation of text and form in his deisgns, especially in the Hitchcock films. The title sequences for Anatomy of a Murder and Psycho exemplify this. The contemporary film Catch Me if You Can definitely drew from Bass’s style.







After Eames designed his Eames Lounge Chair several designers adapted to his design style with a comfortable reclining chair and its complimentary ottoman.




The structural design of Nelson’s Coconut Chair has been modified since its development in 1955. Contemporary chairs influenced by this style remain in high demand because of their sleek design and optimal comfort.







Bradbury Thompson utilized an illustrative style on the human figure while using geometric forms and bold colors to create a visual interest. Whereas the contemporary poster example is similar to Thompson’s style with its use of color to create interest in the poster.




Lester Beall’s posters displayed a color triad along with a photo in order to get the message across. This contemporary poster directly references Beall’s design while conveying a current issue.




The General Dynamics poster by Erik Nitsche exhibited his approach to simple style of colors and lines to create imagery for his poster. The contemporary example builds on the idea by removing copy while keeping the curvilinear lines.




Adrian Frutiger’s designed many typefaces, Frutiger being one. A contemporary typeface that has a similar feel to Univers is Gotham by H&FJ. Both typefaces come in a wide variety of weights and has a broad range of versatility.




Ladislav Sutnar was the first to invent the info graphic. His designs and though process is still being applied in modern poster design.


Credits Saul Bass Photo (Page 8) Lester Beall Photo (Page 9) Maurice Binder (Page 10) Robert Brown John Photo (Page 11) Oleg Cassini Photo (Page 12) Charles Eames Photo (Page 13) Adrian Frutiger Photo (Page 14) George Giusti Photo and Information (Page 15) Reid Miles and John Hermansader Photos and Information (Page 16) Alvin Lustig Photo and Information (Page 17) George Nelson Photo (Page 18)


Erik Nitsche Photo (Page 19) Emilio Pucci (Page 20) Alex Steinweiss Photo and Information (Page 21),_New_York_ca._Apr._1947_crop.jpg Ladislav Sutnar Photo (Page 22) Bradbury Thompson Photo (Page 23) Reid Miles Comparison (Page 27)*S34H4s3nd43q28jO3h2PheQZlAF8p0HGHVR8*k0WENi20yFoXPrqzVCUhTKrIbdYEk2wKjONPw62eaikpt1/SalsambaMojitoBluesCDcover.jpg George Giusti Comparison (Page 29) John Hermansader Comparison (Page 31) Alex Steinweiss Comparison (Page 33) Charles Eames Comparison (Page 37) George Nelson Comparison (Page 39)


Alvin Lustig Comparison (Page 43) tFront.jpg George Giusti Comparison (Page 45) Emilio Pucci Comparison (Page 49) Oleg Cassini Comparison (Page 51) Robert Brownjohn Comparison (Page 55) Maurice Binder Comparison (Page 57) Saul Bass Comparison (Page 59) Charles Eames Comparison (Page 63) George Nelson Comparison (Page 65) Bradbury Thompson Comparison (Page 69) Klanton, Robert. The Modernist. Gestalten Verlag, 2011. Print.


Lester Beall Comparison (Page 71) fication+Administration+-+Lester+Beall+-+1937.jpg Erik Nitsche Comparison (Page 73) Klanton, Robert. The Modernist. Gestalten Verlag, 2011. Print. Adrian Frutiger Comparison (Page 75) Ladislav Sutnar (Page 77) A Special Thanks is Extended to All copy about each artist is from, unless otherwise stated in the credits


Editors Joshua Avenall

McKenzie Stokes

Bradbury Thompson Artist Spread

Alex Steinweiss Artist Spread

Lester Beall Artist Spread

Alvin Lustig Artist Spread

Erik Nitsche Artist Spread

George Giusti Artist Spread

Adrian Frutiger Artist Spread

Reid Miles Artist Spread

Ladislav Sutnar Artist Spread

John Hermansader Artist Spread

Poster Spreads

Book Cover Spreads

Credits Spreads

Album Cover Spreads

Editors Page Layout

How to Use This Magazine Spread

History Copy

Cover Design

Why You Should Read This Copy

Philosophy Copy

File Manager

Conclusion Copy Album Cover Illustration Page Book Cover Illustration Page Architecture Pages Photo Editor


Liz Hewell

Lauren Roberts

Maurice Binder Artist Spread

Charles Eames Artist Spread

Saul Bass Artist Spread

George Nelson Artist Spread

Robert Brownjohn Artist Spread

Architecture Spreads

Emilio Pucci Artist Spread

Furniture Spreads

Oleg Cassini Artist Spread

Table of Contents Spread

Fashion Spreads

History Layout Spread

Film Spreads


Layout Design Icon Design Fashion Illustration Page Film Illustration Page Poster Illustration Page Furniture Illustration Page


Now, think back on all you have seen. Were you reminded of items in your own home? The Mid-Century Modernism lifestyle is coming back in full swing. Thereafter just offers a taste of what this style has to offer. So keep on searching and see what examples you can find. 84


A Magazine discussing the influence of Mid-Century Modernism in contemporary design.