Design Classics

Tips and Tricks: An easy guide to Modernism


Modernism particularly inspired fine art, it saw a break in the world of the ‘ism’ –  these art styles include Impressionism, Cubism, Fauvism, Futurism, Brutalism and Surrealism. With the influence making such an impact across multiple creative disciplines Modernism is arguably being the most influential movement of the 20th century.


Design Classics: On White II by Wassily Kandinsky


Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (16 December 1866 – 13 December 1944) was an influential Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting the first purely abstract works. Born in Moscow, Kandinsky spent his childhood in Odessa. He enrolled at the University of Moscow, studying law and economics. Successful in his profession—he was offered a professorship (chair of Roman Law) at the University of Dorpat—he began painting studies (life-drawing, sketching and anatomy) at the age of 30.

Design Classics: Ray Gun cover by David Carson


A former sociology teacher and professional surfer, David Carson is the graphic designer whose work for the magazine Ray Gun epitomised the grunge aesthetic of the 1990s. His work set the visual style for a generation of bands and MTV audiences and, according to Newsweek Magazine “changed the public face of graphic design”.

Carson’s style is avowedly self-indulgent, using non-traditional lettering and imagery and smashing them together in an often seemingly indecipherable morass. For Carson, typography was art and the way he combined it with the background drew the viewer into the piece, making them work to both read the text and understand it in contest with the imagery.

Considered by some an enfant terrible of the graphic design world, his work is not without its critics – many of them vocal on how his cacophony of image and text went against the very grain of graphic design as a mode of easing and improving communication. But his style has gone on to inspire and be imitated by a generation and his first book ‘The End of Print’ is the biggest selling graphic design tome in the world

Design Classics: Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser


Milton Glaser is arguably the most influential graphic designer of modern times. In fact, Glaser has been awarded that very title by Graphic Design: USA in the past. The creator of the truly iconic “I♥NY” campaign for his home city, his inventive but simple designs and illustrations have an individuality of their own which has often been copied but never bettered throughout his 70-year career.

Glaser’s work has been celebrated by both the art and commercial worlds, appearing in permanent collections in New York, Jerusalem and Washington D.C. , while the three agencies he has built up over the decades have a list of work including the best in poster and identity work, as well as re-designs and consultancy for some of the top periodicals and newspapers in the world. Among his most famous pieces are Bob Dylan album covers, the DC Comics bullet logo and the aforementioned identity work, the most copied logo in history according to some , for New York in the 1970s.

Design Classics: The Man with the Golden Arm by Saul Bass


As a graphic designer Saul Bass (1920-1996) created some of the most iconic logos in American corporate history but it is work in films, where he almost single-handedly re-defined what titles and credits could achieve in cinema, for which he is probably best remembered.

Describing his ground-breaking work on Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, Bass’ obituary writer described him as “..the minimalist auteur who put a jagged arm in motion in 1955 and created an entire film genre…and elevated it into an art form.”

Bass’ style had always been minimalist, using simple geometric shapes and symbols to carry mood and message. His art and typography was often intentionally identifiable as hand-drawn to further carry over the meaning he wanted to convey to an audience

*The Great Gatsby Special* Art Deco Design Classics


All old styles are destined to become cool again eventually. Good designers know this and great designers know how to work it. The call for “retro” has maybe never been louder than it is now and with the roaring 1920s taking culture by storm these days (Downton Abbey on TV, The Great Gatsby soon in theaters), we’re thinking Art Deco will be making a serious comeback in graphic design.

Deco is a strong, beautiful style. Here is the history you need to know, to do it right.

Note the imposing power of the ship in “L’Atlantique,” the cubist and futurist inspiration in the posters for “Nord Express” and “Clipper 314,” and the flat geometric quality to Cassandre’s Pivolo ad — perhaps the most famous Art Deco poster of all time.

Design Classics: Aristide Bruant cabaret poster by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec


Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (French pronunciation: ​[ɑ̃ʁi də tuluz loˈtʁɛk]); (24 November 1864 – 9 September 1901) was a French painter, printmakerdraughtsman and illustrator whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of Paris in the late 1800s yielded a collection of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern and sometimes decadent life of those times. Toulouse-Lautrec, along with CézanneVan Gogh and Gauguin, is among the most well-known painters of the Post-Impressionist period. In a 2005 auction at Christie’s auction house a new record was set when La blanchisseuse, an early painting of a young laundress, sold for $22.4 million U.S.[1]

Design Classics: Palais de Clace by Jules Cheret


Undeniably on of the greatest artist of all time, Jules Cheret was often called  father of the modern poster. Jules Cheret was born in Paris on May 31, 1836 in to a family of artisans. Since the family had little money, Jules Cheret’s formal education ended when at the age of 13, his family could no longer afford to keep him in school. His father, a typographer, placed Cheret in a three year apprenticeship with a lithographer.

Iconic branding: Shell

For more than 100 years the word “Shell”, their Pecten emblem, and the distinctive red and yellow colours have identified the Shell brand and promoted their corporate reputation. These symbols have stood for the quality of their products and services, and represented our professionalism and values around the world. Although after a few minor changes to the logo, in essence it’s stayed the same over decades and is still one of the most recognisable logos, proven by the fact that the symbol is used on it’s own.