Vintage Logos

This Flickr set of vintage logos has been around a while now, and I looked and didn’t immediately get much inspiration. I mean, anyone else who’s linked to them has done the equivalent of, “Hey look, old logos! Um. Yes. Old logos!” so I guess I’m not alone.

Still, patience rewards the virtuous (or something) and I had a closer look through the ‘Original Size’ of all of them - my, that was a fun exercise, thank you, Flickr - and found some logos that I think are pretty interesting. Unfortunately, most of the ‘logos’ on those pages really don’t deserve the distinction of being called logos. In fact, most of them are pretty poor. I guess that makes the good ones stand out better. Perhaps.

So, enough bad-mouthing. I’ve traced (manually, of course, with lovely beziers) the ones I either like, or think are inspirational and felt quite a bit of ’70s and ’80s nostalgia in the process. You may have a different set of choices of course, and no, I wouldn’t include the Lubalin logo in the ‘crap’ ones. I just don’t like it very much. I know, I know, there’s a space in Design Hell reserved just for me… Below are thumbnails of the ones I’ve traced, and I’ve added notes for most of them too. If you’re reading this on the home page, click “Read the rest…” to see the whole lot.

  1. Forening for Boghaandvoerk
    I’ve seen plenty of FF ligatures, but it’s the FB one on this that I like and wanted to keep for reference.
  2. Cumberland Capital Corp.
    Just great. I imagine it’s supposed to imply ‘growth’ with the tree image, but it makes a pleasing image - perfect for a monogram.
  3. Fernandec & Rubin
    This ampersand is wonderful.
  4. New York Aquarium
    Reminds me of Japanese mon, and unlike a lot of the logos that look symmetrical but aren’t, this one is. Perfectly.
  5. National Sea Products Limited
    A fish with a crown? How could I say no? I like the composition and old-timey lettering too.
  6. Oy Finleuy Ab
    This one makes me laugh. It looks like a demented chameleon.
  7. Norwegian Caribbean Lines
    Interesting to keep, just to show any letter can be made to trail off into a wavey line.
  8. Keystone Park
    I did make a slight modification to this - I cleaned up the ‘central reservation’ in the curved road. I’m not entirely sure what a motorway intersection has to do with a parkbut I’m sure it made sense at the time.
  9. Jonneret SA
    Lovely wavey lines… ‘nuff said.

Read the rest of “Vintage Logos”

Haas Unica

Bauldoff linked to some scans he’d done of the 1980 promo for the typeface Haas Unica, by Team’77. I’d seen a copy of this back in the 90s but then forgot about it until seeing these scans - back then I was only a callow youth so the idea of improving Helvetica didn’t seem so remarkable or interesting as it does now.

Essentially, Haas Unica came about as a result of analysing the original version of Helvetica, its variants (as they were in 1980) and similar faces and seeking to improve them - to produce the ultimate archetypal sans serif face. A single face to unite them all, if you like. Looking at the comparitive settings of both faces at text size shows how subtle the differences are, with a detail closeup first:

You can get an idea of the kind of analysis they did from this little snippet:

The character width of Haas Helvetica appears to us to be generally somewhat narrow, so that the rhythm of the typeface is rather uneasy in its effect. The same applies to Akzidenz Book. Linotype Helvetica is wider than the Haas version in relation to its character area and appears to us to be generally more balanced. Its character width corresponds basically to that of Univers.

And the results, based on improvements and adjustments to the stroke thicknesses, relationships of the capital letter widths, numerals and the basic forms of the letters:

The differentiation of capital letter widths leads to a tighter rhythm in upper case composition. A slightly more open form in the Haas Unica specimen setting, compared with the original version, together with the individual corrections to characters, improves the readability of the typeface, especially for continuous text.

Unfortunately when the face was released there were some legal problems as Linotype and Scangraphic both claim ownership. As a result it is no longer available commercially, which is a huge shame. Perhaps a petition for the conflicting parties to get over themselves and perhaps release the face jointly? I mean, making some money from it is surely better than making none at all - especially when ‘ownership’ is being judged from contract and the shifting seas of corporate ownership. Meanwhile, some people are taking matters into their own hands by redrawing the letterforms for their own use.

On the left is the original Haas Helvetica, on the right the new Haas Unica, and in between some transitory and experimental forms.

Update: If you’d like to see some examples of Haas Unica actually in use, Richard at Gentle Pure Space provided a link to these photos. I agree with him on the lowercase ‘a’, it is very cute.

Complex Infographics

I was hunting for a link I’d omitted from a previous post and came across an old bookmark for these infographics (found originally via Chris Glass). I especially like the red tape one, and the map part of the tobacco one is great.

More Retro Goodness

Drawn! the other day had a link to this treasure trove of retro illustrations, posters, books, covers, and pretty much everything else committed to print, and an on-link to the Mid-Century Illustrated Flickr pool. Looking through these is a bit like browsing ffffound, you keep finding things you want to keep links to… or just keep. I tend to want to redraw things, as I find it helps me understand how it was done a bit better and I often learn some new technique or style, or get inspiration for something else. I particularly liked the Black Pearl cover - it’s an engaging and compelling image, but made with just three colours. No halftones or tints either. I didn’t redraw this, I just used clean-up techniques to recreate it:

The Aircraft Propulsion Data Book is interesting as the curve appears smooth and aerodynamic, but under close examination it seems a bit… well, clumsy. Still, that’s the kind of thing that interests me - for example, when doing things like icons the details can seem crude and ugly up close but at their intended size provide useful (and subtle) clues on how to interpret the whole image.

Also in the sets of images are various examples of very nice typography, these two caught my eye in particular:

And linked from the Photo Lettering one, this beautiful, beautiful thing:

Then, finally, no collection of mid-century illustrations would be complete without at least one retro-futurist image, so here’s a fabulous subway illustration by Klaus Bürgle:

Tell Me The Time

Just followed this link from Design Observer, to this great clock by Christiaan Postma. I daren’t think how long it took to work out. It’s made out of lots of smaller clockworks that all combine to spell the time. For a large part of the day though you’d be at a loss what time it is, say at half-five, so if you wanted to make it practical (why?) you could stick a big set of hands in front… but I like it the way it is. Watch the animation (page 3) to see it in action.

OGC? Oh Gee, See?

You know, when it comes to designing a logo that’s going to appear on documents, mousemats, brochures, you know: portable things, you really do have a duty to examine it from all angles. It also helps to get people in whose thought processes tend to the profane, because such people exist in great numbers ‘out there’ in the real world and will at a moment’s notice point out any even slightly lewd or coarse associations*. Also, perhaps develop a familiarity with iconographic representations of the human body, just in case your logo resembles such a figure. Say, like the Cerne Abbas Giant would be if the ancients fancied a more demonstrably explicit image…

Anyway, this logo for a British Government agency is quite hilarious, and I’m amazed they’re going ahead with it. Oh, and from the Register article that the Times sourced this from:

For the record, and in case you’d like to get your hands on a rebranded OGC mousemat, we gather staff have stripped the building of every example not nailed down, so check eBay later this week for your five-knuckle shuffle collectable.

* I have to state that I, of course, would never do such a thing. I blame the Times.

Book Covers

I’ve been checking this site periodically for quite a white now, it’s great to look through the updates when you’re in need of a bit of inspiration. Unusually for any site anywhere, many of the comments are good too, sometimes providing links to similar works and some good opinions. Either they moderate heavily or the site content means it doesn’t attract too many idiots.


I was catching up on Oh Joy! earlier today and saw this post about Lou Dorfman’s gastrotypographicalassemblage. Wow, what a piece. Cho links to a collection of images on Flickr (where else) showing some original photos of the piece in situ, and some of the work being done to restore it - more on that here. I love the restoration pictures, with all the letters laid out like that.

I would love to have something like this at home, or even at the office for that matter.

Jörg Block

I came across Jörg Block’s site this morning from a link on Drawn! There are some fantastic illustrations and paintings on there; I love his clean, crisp, often isometric drawing style, and especially the page layouts:

Have a look at the paintings too, they remind me of the paintings of intersections and roadworks you’d see advertising the Glorious New Future in the 50s and 60s, but with a solitude and darkness that suggest the future isn’t all that glorious at all. Of course, he could just like architectural paintings and puts the figure in for scale?

An Orchestral Rollercoaster

This advert for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra has been linked from several design related sites (I can’t remember where I first saw it), but all of them were linking either to Zapp Internet or to YouTube, both of which only had low quality and low resolution versions. For animations with such fine detail as this has, you really need to see the clean, high-res version to appreciate it fully. So, a good few Google searches later, and I’ve found this article on Llámame Lola, which not only carries a link to the MPEG but appears to be the originator of the Zapp upload. My paraphrased translation of their description, which is, to be fair, a bit random:

Here’s a great commercial for the Zurich Chamber Orchestra made by the agency Euro RSCG Zürich. Recently the orchestra carried out a concert in Spain with the Swiss flautist Emmanuel Pahud, at the Palau de la Música in Valencia. For the opening night last week, Emmanuel Pahud performed with the ZKO under the direction of Giovanni Antonini, the Flute Concerto nº7 by Devienne.

Also, I was intrigued by the ZKO logo, and not immediately finding any PDFs containing a high-res version of that either, I decided to redraw it, as is my wont. It’s a beautiful logo, and probably is the subject of much jealousy by other orchestras.

You may need to download VLC to play the video from Llámame Lola as Quicktime claims it’s not a valid video file. Go figure.