Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some Real Retro Designs

Objective proof that the everyday design of the early to mid-20th century was better than it has been during my adult lifetime:

If you had to get mouth cancer from smoking a pipe, at least you looked good while doing it.

Radio magazine from 1937.

This Radio-Craft magazine is from 1941. The cover proclaims "Hugo Gernsback, editor." I didn't know Gernsback, the founder of the first science fiction magazine and the person for whom the Hugo award is named, was also a radio guy. Fun fact: the large cover photo is labeled "Police 2-way radio...IN A VEST!" And is that J. Edgar Hoover in the middle?

A small throwaway brochure that came with a cassette tape recorder.

This is what things look like when people hand-letter them instead of setting a bunch of type.

Okay, I admit these pieces aren't a representative sample of design in that era, and my memory isn't representative of what we've been seeing since, either. But it sure feels like everyday items were more interesting and pleasing to look at, after seeing these.

But I also found this bit of inappropriateness, which probably raised Gloria Steinem's blood pressure (a postcard, copyrighted 1967):

Maybe that's when it started to go downhill.

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