The influence of mid-century design
May 29, 2017 | By Livi Gosling |
We popped in to visit The Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising’s and it made us consider just how much midcentury design has influenced current trends in Illustration and Design… The 1950’s and 60’s saw an explosion of colour and freedom that still excites today. We suggest you take a look at the work of American artist David Klein, as pictured in our blogpost’s feature image, to see this artistic revolution in full swing.
The influence of these artists is widespread and thriving and we think this is something to be celebrated. Society’s current fondness for the handmade and celebration of craft has risen from a post-industrial yearning for a D-I-Y approach, and a retro or vintage aesthetic is interwoven with this.
Although the Late Night Mad Men event catered to this current wave of retro appreciation, it also showcased packaging ranging from the Victorian era to the present day. Whilst walking through the museum’s maze you witness a progression in design, typography and colour that is unparalleled in any other London museum.
The place feels warm, familiar and homely and we believe this stems from the products on display that generations of UK residents have grown up with. Fairy Soap, PG Tips (or your preferred tea brand…) and Heinz Baked Beans are ingrained in Western day-to-day life.
The post-war ale canisters displayed in the exhibition struck us to be a clear influence on current alcohol packaging. The long, slender serif-less letterforms and the pared down colour palette lends itself to food & drink packaging today. It seems fresh and exciting but deep down you know you’ve seen it somewhere before. This familiarity found in the aesthetic must surely affect the mind of the consumer.
The 1950s saw off-set lithography become the most popular form of printing. The sharp, clean lines, strong colours and bold pared down shapes that this method created can be found in modern illustration. There’s a wave of printmakers making a name for themselves within the Illustration industry today.
There’s been a surge in the amount of artists who design, print and publish work themselves. This D-I-Y attitude lends itself to the arts, e.g. printmaking. It’s influence has also spread to today’s food culture. The current pop-up trend thriving in east London offers up an array of simpler foods you can eat with your hands. Take your pick from many nostalgic American dishes such as southern BBQ, filthily delicious burgers, cornbread, root beer… Food for your soul. These dishes aren’t formal, they aren’t fussy and they can be made at home in your own kitchen. This fondness for 50’s Americana needs to be reflected in the packaging.
To wrap up, we found The Museum of Brands to be a wonderful place full of ephemera, familiarity and great design. The strong influence of this era is testament to the design teams and advertising agencies who made those creative choices back in the day. We tip our trilby to the Peggys, Dons & Stans of the 50s and 60s.
Livi Gosling knows a thing or two about design and illustration which is why we turned to her for this brilliant insight and inspiration. She is, as you might expect, also a Gosling and enhanced our studio meeting room with a wonderful mural commission illustrating the journey of an idea between client and agency.