Graphic Design San Francisco
📖 Chronicle Books
Graphic Design, San Francisco brings together the work of twenty-eight firms in a survey of the work being done in the Bay Area in the late 1970s. This survey is an attempt to honor the business of communication and the personalities and different philosophies that contribute to its cause.
In the words of Kyle B.
IBS held a cozy launch party for Medium Rare Books in December 2018 for all Intercom employees at our San Francisco office. We laid a good chunk of the library out on tables—Kelly decorated our cafeteria with candelabras, fake fruit, and steak knives atop checkered red and white tablecloth (with the library books littered between). Behind a spatula, across the table from the toilets book, I found this unassuming zeitgeist of San Francisco design in the late seventies.
I wasn’t long into the book before Matt and Olenka were joining in on the experience of this almanac. Our conversation became animated—like we were all realizing this book answered questions we’d never vocalized. Which brand work pretty well stayed the same: Boudin Bakery, Levi’s, KTVU2; which we were sad had changed: Bank of the West, Shasta, Swensen’s; and which brand work died with the company: most work in the book. Although the book touts twenty-eight firms, the distance of forty years was blurring them all into one big pre-tech, Randian (Paul), modernist monograph.
The inside of the dust jacket feels like the text on a tombstone for a city I never got the chance to meet: “In San Francisco—where the headquarters of many corporations are located—the traditionally liberal atmosphere encourages creativity in the solutions to the new problems brought in the wake of this avalanche of information. The design that has emerged in the Bay Area is remarkable in its diversity of approach.”
The work is beautiful, eccentric, varied and maybe even as liberal as it claims to be. It features a wide assortment of commercial design examples: logos, packaging, posters, physical spaces, and quadruple scoop ice cream cone signs. The cover’s ghostly green skyscrapers feel like foreshadowing for an eventuality for San Francisco The Institute of Graphic Designers clearly must have anticipated—with Bell, HP, and Apple on the rise just a few miles south. The intro, written by SF Ad Agency guy Lon Clark, will ring true to anyone working one of the in-house tech agencies that have now leveled most SF Agency work. One line in particular stood out to me: “In-house art operations often sacrifice passion to politics, arriving at eviscerated conclusions to vital questions.”
We started our Medium Rare Books collection to gain perspective and—more than any other book in our collection—I got some in this. Pick up a copy for your coffee table or in house team. It’s a great eye candy and conversation starter bang for your fifteen bucks.
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