Retro and vernacular design

The idea of faking authenticity is common in the practice of graphic design. It is a technique often employed to connect with viewers on an emotional level. Much as the Delancey Dessert company used an aged-looking photograph to evoke ideas about history and culture, designers often employ visual cues to reference a time, place, etc. In “No More Rules” Rick Poynor descripes a trend in the 1990s: “many commercial ventures deployed postmodern nostalgia to trigger reassuring emotions in consumers”.

 

Retro Vernacular Design

 

Retro Vernacular Design

 

Retro Vernacular Design

 Retro Vernacular Design

 

Tibor Kalman and his design firm M&Co. were known for employing vernacular design, or design that was created by the general public, i.e. not trained in the graphic arts. One example of this is a print advertisement Kalman created for Restaurant Florent, a trendy restaurant in the meatpacking district of New York. The design mimicked the plastic letter signs often used by delis in which some characters may be re-appropriated and used in place of another character.  In a way, Kalman was doing something that was similar to the Delancey Dessert Company. He was using a recognizable visual style that evoked a sense of localism, tradition, and perhaps even nostalgia.

Retro Vernacular Design

 

Retro Vernacular Design

 

Retro Vernacular Design


The idea of truth and authenticity arises again in the case of these designs. Both are intentionally replicating the aesthetic of something old or traditional. In the case of Kalman’s ad, it is intentionally replicating the look of a local, non-professionally designed deli sign.

Retro and vernacular design

 

Retro Vernacular Design

 

Retro Vernacular Design

 

Retro Vernacular Design

The nostalgic design trend rose to a peak in the 1990s when ads were replicating the retro style of designs from the 20s to 50s. Old Navy built an entire ad/branding campaign around a postmodern nostalgic style that referenced retro advertisements. The retro style offered consumers something that was reassuring and familiar. Though different in their approaches, the same can be said for the vernacular style of the Restaurant Florent ad and the Delancey Dessert Company packaging. Each was re-visiting a recognizable design language as a way of emotionally connecting the consumer to the brand.

RECOMMENDED READING

 

Junk Type: Typography - Lettering - Badges - Logos

Junk Type: Typography - Lettering - Badges - Logos//ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=historygraphi-20&l=am2&o=1&a=0789332655

Junk Type is a project driven by the passion of one man to document a disappearing aspect of American culture. Bill Rose—aka Recapturist—is a photographer and designer who has spent the last decade traveling across America looking for junkyards, yard sales, antique stores, and other unlikely sources of inspiration to capture examples of postwar American typography and design before they’re lost forever.

Bringing together more than 400 images, this invaluable book is a visual history of postwar America, told through the distinct typography, icons, badges, and branding of the country’s industrial heritage. From Art Deco–inspired fonts and unique handmade cursive lettering to illustrated insignia and clean graphic logos bearing the influence of European design of the 1960s, these pictures together represent an encyclopedic reference of creative typefaces and graphics.

With each photograph representing just a detail—an embossed logo, a specially created icon, or an advertising slogan—this book captures the optimism and pragmatism of a golden age of American industrial creativity and distills it into a charming resource for anyone with an eye (or nostalgia) for vintage design.

2018 History Graphic Design

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.