Monday, July 30, 2007

Fletch Lives

Alan Gerard Fletcher, designer: born Nairobi 27 September 1931; partner, Fletcher Forbes Gill 1962-65; partner, Crosby Fletcher Forbes 1965-72; RDI 1972; founding partner, Pentagram Design 1972-92; President, Designers and Art Directors Association 1973; International President, Alliance Graphique Internationale 1982-85; married 1956 Paola Biagi (one daughter); died London 21 September 2006.(

Returning to London in 1959, Fletcher took a space in the studio of his former classmate Colin Forbes and in 1962 the pair teamed up with the American designer Bob Gill to create Fletcher Forbes Gill. As a team they had an ability to combine the formal restraint of Swiss modernism with the wit of the Madison Avenue advertising industry that set them apart from other British design firms. Fletcher's iconic work from the period, such as the bus-side advertisement for Pirelli slippers in which the passengers become the wearers of the slippers, has lost none of its spark.

Enjoying, as they did, fast-growing commercial success, their creative ambitions grew to match. In the mid- Sixties they decided that the best way to communicate the identity of Shell Petroleum was to reconfigure the furniture of the garage forecourt into the letters SHELL. Although this extraordinary project never came into being, it prompted a new partnership with Theo Crosby and transformed them into London's leading multidisciplinary design firm.

Crosby Fletcher Forbes evolved into Pentagram in 1972. The company's highly innovative structure in which every partner acts as an independent profit centre while each is paid the same has allowed it to grow from a five-partner (hence the name), London-based firm to a, currently, 18-way firm with offices in five cities.

Alan Fletcher was the father figure of British graphic design. Through his companies Fletcher Forbes Gill, Crosby Fletcher Forbes and later Pentagram, he revolutionised the practice and the business of visual communication, introducing Britain to punchy, ideas-based graphics and helping transform design from a decorative extra into a key element of corporate and public life.

As far as Fletcher was concerned the starting point of a piece of work was not how it should be done, but why. His professional approach was characterised by a rigour and perfectionism that went uncompromised over his 50-year.

Peace not Warhol 1960

The summer of love... although i was mearly a twinkle in my fathers eye, i know, and have for some time, about this time. The 1960's was a hugaly influential period for many people. PEACE, LOVE, SEX and ROCK & ROLL are words that come to my mind, but alond with this there is a visual of many loud colours. Whether it was the introduction of drugs like LSD to society of whether the music, that was obviously the creation of the devil, something had changed. Flourecent colours and warped patterns covered all aspects of design, the rigid shapes and regimented colours of the past were left behind for freedon of expression.

The Pop Art movement originated in England in the 1950s and traveled overseas to the United States during the 1960s. Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, both members of the Independent Group, pioneered the movement in London in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the movement was carried by Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney, Allen Jones, and Peter Phillips. In the early sixties, Pop art found its way to the United States, seen in the work of Jim Dine, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg. It developed in the United States as a response to the wealth of the post World War II era and the growing materialism and consumerism in society. The most recognized Pop Artist, Andy Warhol, used a photo-realistic, mass production printmaking technique called seriagraphy to produce his commentaries on media, fame, and advertising.

Born in Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol moved to New York at the age of twenty-one to become a commercial artist. This occupation gave him experience in silkscreen printing, which became he medium of choice. Warhol began making paintings of familiar objects such as soup cans and brillo pads. After a brief period of hand-painting these works, Warhol began to use mechanical techniques to mass-produce his images. His interest in popular culture expanded as he began to depict celebrities and newspaper clippings in his prints. Warhol also created films and worked with the rock band, The Velvet Underground

freedom from industry 1910

Futurism was an Italian art movement that flourished from 1909 to about 1916. It was the first of many art movements that tried to break with the past in all areas of life. Futurism glorified the power, speed, and excitement that characterized the machine age. From the French cubist painters and multiple-exposure photography, the Futurists learned to break up realistic forms into multiple images and overlapping fragments of colour. By such means, they attempted to portray the energy and speed of modern life. In literature, Futurism demanded the abolition of traditional sentence structures and verse forms. Futurism was created by the poet Filippo Marinetti.

In 1909, Marinetti issued the first of many defiant proclamations published by the Futurists. “We will fight with all our might the fanatical, senseless and snobbish religion of the past, a religion encouraged by the vicious existence of museums. We rebel against that spineless worshiping of old canvases, old statues and old bric-a-brac, against everything which is filthy and worm-ridden and corroded by time. We consider the habitual contempt for everything which is young, new and burning with life to be unjust and even crimina”. Marinetti was soon joined by the painters Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carra, Luigi Russolo, and Gino Severini, and the painter and sculptor Umberto Boccioni. By 1916, Futurism had lost most of its vigor.

A small bit of information about a short but influential period in the history of design and the arts, going into detail about this subject would only give it more emphasis than is really needed, during this period so much was happening in the world, these were the times of the human, the teens if you will, when we were really discovering what we were capable of, and in a way we were teaching ourselves the habits that would one day be our downfall. No I am not prone to morbidity, I believe that these artists and designers, although they were probably all mad, were living the dream, expression, while all others were trying to lead and follow. Maybe it is just this that is our downfall and all that stems from it are just tools along the way, and maybe these movements never became because the minority of people living an answer were still just that, a minority. What has this to do with 1910, nothing accept the fact that It is nearly 100 years ago and nothing has changed, just evolved.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fancy Pants

The economic and social pressures that immediately followed the First World War brought with them a new mood for a rigorous and clean-cut look. Art Deco was an innovative design style popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Its sleek, streamlined forms conveyed elegance and sophistication.

Society in this post war period was a very segregated entity, classes of people were clearly outlined and as economies where at a high, the rich where rich and the poor were damned.

Travel was a luxury reserved for the upper class. These people, from what I gather, were the first definition of what is known today as the “snob”, Life to them was all about the material, cars, houses, clothes and holidays.

Graphic design played a huge roll in the travel industry during this period, with people using holidays and destinations as weapons of social classing, travel was a huge market now, full of the wealthiest consumers, therefore advertising had to be of the highest standard, encompassing all modern design styles.

I guess the wealthy people of this time really needed these kind of props to keep their mind focused on competition and success as opposed to the bleak reality of their shallow greed and hedonism.

I would love to have found some advertising for a local bus route, I have a sneaking suspicion that the design would have been a shade or two less elaborate.