Front and back pages of the cover of a catalogue designed for Brann of Zürich by Ch. Vohdin

Advertising the German Store by Jan Tschichold illustrated with design by Brann, 1931

An article by Jan Tschichold illustrated with examples of publicity produced by Brann of Zürich.

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This article has been taken from Commercial Art Vol 11, No 58, April 1931

The amount of advertising done by shops is in inverse ratio to its quality. It is very rare to find anything that is tasteful, distinguished or even unobjectionable among the printed publicity matter produced.

The commonplace character of the printing of shop advertising is due in part to the fact that very little time can be allowed for its preparation, though of course, this must also obtain in other businesses. In the case of shops, one may suspect the advertisement to be a compromise between the designer and the compositor, which becomes less acute in proportion as the designer- -usually the firm’s advertisement manager–is in greater or less degree acquainted with the technical side of composition and typography.

Catalogue cover and window bill designed by Vohdrn
Catalogue cover and window bill designed by Vohdrn

 

This compromise is not necessary in the case of advertisements with lettering designed by hand, but for reasons of economy, typography is most often employed as the basis of the design.

In these conditions, the design can only be successful if it is carried out by one who is familiar with the technique of type-setting, and in this respect, the publicity matter of Brann (Zürich) by Ch. Vohdin ranks high among the best examples of shop advertising.

Vohdin has with typographical brilliance solved the particular problem of shop advertising, that is to say, the problem of getting a great deal of information into a small space, with prices clearly marked.

He regards typographical technique, not as an obstacle or a necessary evil, but takes it as his starting point. For this reason, his work has a natural, unforced effect. Faced with the difficulty of a great multitude of illustrations he gets round it by arranging them in rows alternately on black and white backgrounds, and in this way obtains an easy and pleasant effect. He renounces ornament and restricts himself to pure form in the knowledge that ornament would endanger the legibility of the whole. In practically every case he is content with using set type, but for catalogue covers with a view to visual effectiveness he employs photography, which by means of light gradations in tone and dexterous combination with type is successful in quite a new way.

Here and there his designs combining a drawing with typography, enliven the face of the newspapers and stand out from their background by reason of their effective simplicity. We have in these examples a form of advertising for shops which might well be taken as a model by others.

 

Catalogue cover and window bill designed by Vohdrn
Catalogue cover and window bill designed by Vohdrn

 

Catalogue designed by Vohdrn
Catalogue designed by Vohdrn
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I have been reproached for this, and I will surely be reproached again. I have also been reproached for reading more and more obscure works whose readership must be limited to a handful of specialists and a few hobbyists like myself. It’s a heavy passion or a passion that sucks.
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Ian McLaren and Ken Briggs produced exceptional work for a range of clients in the arts and culture sector. Their client included CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), The National Theatre and the Arts Council.
Ken was born in 1929, in Southampton and grew up in a small market town in North Devon. He was a principled man, with strong values and views against the hyper-consumerism we live with today. Ken studied at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts in the 1950s and was taught by Herbert Spencer, Anthony Froshaug and Jesse Collins. Whilst at the School he studied alongside designers Ken Briggs, Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes.