A new book Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936-1986 finds that as a “mecca of consumerism” in a constant state of flux, California gave rise gave rise to an inspirational and unique form of graphic design which reflects the Californian culture.
Beginning in the Modernist age, Thames & Hudson’s book moves chronologically through the psychedelic 1960s and up to the mid ‘80s.
It features books and magazines designed by the likes of Merle Armitage, Alvin Lustig and Sheila Levrant DeBretteville.
There are posters for Disneyland and Herman Miller, Marget Larsen’s print ads for Joseph Manin, and title cards for hit TV shows like Lassie, as well as title sequences for films like Taxi Driver, all sorts of motion graphics, architectural super-graphics by Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Alexander Girard, plus print and environmental designs by Gere Kavanaugh and Deborah Sussman.
It’s a hefty 400 page tome, which has been compiled, edited and designed by Louise Sandhaus who heads up the Graphic Design Program at California Institute of the Arts and runs her own studio LSD (Louise Sandhaus Design).
Sandhaus, who is not a “design historian, critic, theoretician, or scholar” says the book “reflects, perhaps, a very ‘California’ way of presenting information.
To make sense of what has been included and excluded, Sandhaus says the reader should imagine a dinner party that serves only desserts.
She says: “The sugary offerings within these pages range from the obvious to the obscure. This is a heavily curated selection based on little more than the way the heart quickens when the eye encounters something radiant, wonderful and new.”
Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires and Riots: California and Graphic Design 1936-1986 is published by Thames & Hudson on 12 January 2015 and priced £39.95