Brian's History of Communication Design Blog

Weekly exposition on recent learnings.


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Vienna Secession Typeface Reborn in Psychedelia

We were reviewing the various movements that followed on after Art Nouveau (Jugendstil, the Glasgow School, and the Vienna Secession), and it was interesting to see how the typefaces of the Vienna Secession developed. At first they were similar in their clarity and elongated forms to those of the Glasgow School, but they soon developed more abstract, less legible, forms.

Of particular note was one by Alfred Roller, shown here in an example of a calendar page from Ver Sacrum.

Ver Sacrum August

Alfred Roller typeface in Ver Sacrum

When I saw this I immediately thought of the typeface used in late 1960s psychedelia posters, particularly those from San Francisco. I found two examples that used Roller’s typeface:

brignallimg2Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore

I think it’s great that it might have taken nearly 70 years for the renaissance to occur, but that a perfect one did happen for Roller’s very unique typeface.


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Art Nouveau’s Birth in a Chair

Last week we were looking at artists from the Victorian age, and one in particular that struck my eye was Mackmurdo.

He produced a set of five chairs in 1882 that clearly predates that Art Nouveau movement by perhaps as much as 20 years, yet is clearly a precursor of Art Nouveau in its styling. To wit:

Mackmurdo Chair

The fluid lines suggestive of, yet not representational of, plant forms, are clearly the same as seen in Art Nouveau works.

For example, the design of the Paris metro stations by Guimard:

Guimard Metro Station

Guimard Metro Railing

Guimard designed these stations in 1900, just to give an indication as to how far after Mackmurdo his work came.