POP! Design, Culture, Fashion 1956-1976

While the ideas of Swinging London and San Francisco’s Summer of Love are just a twinkle in the nostalgic eyes of those that lived through them, the iconography that accompanied them has lived on way beyond the lysergic revelries and idealism they illustrated.

POP! Design, Culture, Fashion 1956 - 76 front cover
POP! Design, Culture, Fashion 1956 – 76 front cover

A new book, Pop! Design, Culture, Fashion 1956-1976 celebrates the best in design over the 20 year period,  covering graphics, books, magazines, films and fashion from Alan Aldridge’s psychedelic posters to Roxy Music’s ‘art as life’ stance to Milton Glaser, Warhol, Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton and the fashion designs of Mary Quant and Vivienne Westwood.

Follies poster by David Edward Byrd 1971
Follies poster by David Edward Byrd 1971

Launched to accompany the exhibition of the same name that opens next week at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum, the book is a stunning visual guide to the graphics and ephemera that has created the myth and memories of when Pop was born.

series of three inflatable cushions by Peter Max, 1968
series of three inflatable cushions by Peter Max, 1968

Designed and typeset by John and Orna Designs, all the illustrations are photographs  of the items themselves, rather than archive material; with images from underground magazines such as Oz, Gandalf’s Garden, l’Actuel and International Times nestling alongside images of Twiggy coat hangers and Elton John’ s Waistcoat.

Clothes hanger from the Twiggy Dresses collection 1966 by Pamela Proctor and Paul Babb
Clothes hanger from the Twiggy Dresses collection 1966 by Pamela Proctor and Paul Babb

Charting the period between ‘the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll and the disillusion of Punk’, the book documents the idea of ‘Pop’ as a multifarious notion that impacted all aspects of popular culture – where posters and graphics were as essential to clubs as the music they played; and fashion as integral to catalysing the idea of the teenager as we know it today.

This idea of pop was carried into furniture and homeware too, such as in this fabulous piano coffee table from 1958:

Piano Coffee Table 1958
Piano Coffee Table 1958

And this ‘Corsets’ coffee service, designed by Susan Williams-Ellis for Portmerion Pottery in 1965, which appropriates Victorian advertisement imagery:

Piano Coffee Table 1958
Corsets coffee services by Susan Williams-Ellis for Portmerion Pottery 1965

It was during the period the book covers that graphic design came into its own, according to the book’s co-author Geoff Rayner, who cites, among many other examples, the posters of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth (as Hapshash and the Coloured Coat) ; Alan Aldridge’s’ work for The Beatles, Milton Glaser’s Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits packaging and the work of Peter Gee as catapulting the discipline to the forefront of popular culture.

However predating these by at least a decade is the lovely Black Eyes and Lemonade poster, designed by Barbara Jones in 1951, which was used to advertise an exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Follies poster by David Edward Byrd 1971
Black Eyes and Lemonade poster by Barbara Jones for Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1951

As Geoff Rayner’s introduction points out, ‘If not a Pop musician, photographer or fashion model, then being a graphic or fashion designer was considered by many people to be the ultimate ‘cool’ career choice….’

Pop! Design, Culture, Fashion 1956-1976 by Geofrey Rayner, Richard Chamberlain and Annamarie Stapleton is published by the Antique Collectors’ Club priced £35. For more information see www.accpublishinggroup.com

Latest articles