New York's Hidden 
Graphic Design Gem

New York's Hidden Graphic Design Gem

By Rob Hewitt
The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography is an appointment only, below ground showcase of one of the best collections of Graphic Design History (and it's free, too).

Herb Lubalin (1918–1981), who one might claim was the graphic designer who defined American culture from the 1950s through the 1970s, was best known for his groundbreaking design and whimsical typographic solutions for the magazines Avant Garde, Eros, and Fact.

The Herb Lubalin Study Center at the Cooper Union was established in 1985 to help preserve Lubalin’s vast collection of work. Not only did this solidify Lubalin's legacy but, it also served to provide the academic community and the general public free access to historic ephemera in an informal, hands on manner.

An extensive archive of Herb Lubalin’s work is at the core of the Center’s collection, including editorial design, typeface designs, posters, journals, magazines, logos, packaging, and identity designs from 1950 to 1981.

A framed printer's plate of Herb Lubalin's logo for his first studio. The typographic treatment was inspired by early American Humanist typography. Lettering John Pistilli. 1964

The inaugural issue of Fact launched by Ralph Ginsburg and Herb Lubalin in January 1964. A typical example of a Fact cover - they were stark, black and white, and mostly typographic.Lubalin introduced many subtle flourishes and as always, the kerning, leading and line breaks are handled with consummate skill.

Shot taken within the Herb Lubalin Study Center the original "Mother & Child" logo, to the right "ABCDEFG..." the alphabet set in Avant Garde Gothic, designed by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase. One of many examples of typically Lubalin-esquen arrangement of interlocking and overlapping letterforms. 1974

Lou Dorfsman standing infront of "Gastrotypographical". With the help of Tom Carnase, Herb Lubalin worked extensively on this typographic "wall of words" that spanned 35 feet in width and 8 feet in height. It was situated in the cafeteria at the CBS headquarters in New York City. The concept was to treat the wall like a giant typesetter's case, with a lock-up of words and objects on the theme of food. 1966

The Center also plays a role in documenting 20th and 21st Century American and European Graphic Design. Paul Rand, Lou Dorfsman, Push Pin Studios, Alvin Lustic, Lester Beall, Bradbury Thompson, Otl Aicher, Tibor Kalman, Massimo Vignelli, and countless other’s original works are also available to be viewed in the collection. 

While the Lubalin Study Center seems serious and ambitious in its scope, it is friendly and accessible. There is nothing more satisfying than to be able to interact with an original piece of ephemera.

The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography is located at 41 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003. (212) 353-4021, by appointment only.


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