Showing posts with label Pattern Design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pattern Design. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Confectionery Delights from Vienna

Long after the flavor of a fine chocolate disappears, the packaging remains as a treasure to savor for years to come. Many are just as irresistible as the chocolate treats they contain. Choosing a favorite box design is like picking a favorite chocolate, but this Julius Meinl Pralines box from Vienna with the Russian motif and lovely hand lettering rates high. Many of the designers' names are long forgotten sadly, but the beauty of their ephemeral packaging compelled someone to save these boxes for decades. All of these paper confectionary containers and more are available from this Antique Pool dealer in Vienna. They truly belong in a chocolate museum somewhere.

A small box with embossed design to hold liquor-filled bonbons from Heller.

Oscar Pischinger, manufacturer of chocolate wafers and cakes.

Demel, the oldest Viennese confectionery, was founded in 1799. They are admired as much for their decadent chocolates and candies as for the packaging designed by Swiss baron Federico von Berzeviczy-Pallavicini (1909-1989). Pallavicini was a visionary artist and designer, and studied fine arts in Vienna where he was strongly influenced by the Wiener Werkstätte movement. In the late 1920s, he was introduced to Demel by architect and designer Josef Hoffmann—launching his career as a visionary designer of wrapping papers, packaging and ornate window displays. Pallavicini's work is consistently recognized by his use of lively overall pattern and hand lettering with a distinctively flamboyant style. His box designs with hinged lids seen above, are likely dated sometime in the 1930s. 

In 1936, Mr. Pallavicini married Klara, the Jewish niece of owner, Anna Demel, in order to protect her from the menacing threats of Nazism. She was allowed to enter a convent under his name and survived the war. Pallavicini moved to Italy in the late 30s and pursued a career as a magazine illustrator and art director. He later settled in the New York and worked as an art director for Elizabeth Arden, an interior designer for Helena Rubinstein, a stylist for Look magazine and an art director and illustrator for the short-lived, but highly-admired Flair magazine. After Klara died in 1965, Pallavicini managed Demel until 1972, when he sold the family firm. Some of his package designs continue to be in use today.


The last 3 images are for a very rare unfolded cardboard candy box designed by Pallavicini. It characterizes a "Punch & Judy" puppet theater when properly assembled. Below are a few additional early Demel box designs pre-dating Pallavicini's work.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Toys for Teaching Design

"Toys That Teach" was the official slogan of the The Embossing Company of Albany, New York, who were considered a giant in the field of manufacturing wood embossed toys, such as dominoes, checkers, wooden blocks, puzzles and building kits. The company was formed in 1870 after inventor John Wesley Hyatt (1837-1920), improved the manufacturing process of embossing and painting the wood surfaces of dominoes and checkers. Even though Hyatt held the first three patents which were instrumental to The Embossing Company's initial start-up, he was most famous for his invention of celluloid, which he discovered quite by accident. As the story goes, Hyatt became a printer's apprentice in Illinois at the age of sixteen. In the process of making the metal cuts, a bottle of collodion overturned and solidified, giving him the idea of making celluloid. He later used the celluloid to win a $10,000 prize for the competition to replace the ivory billiard ball. Over the course of his lifetime Hyatt went on to develop 236 successful patents, exceeded only by a few other inventors, including Thomas Edison.
     The Embossing Company released the "Curved Designs" boxed toy featured above in 1935, long after Hyatt's death. This toy is a bit of a mystery to me beyond this, yet it appears as if it could be a very effective educational toy for teaching the mechanics of working with typographical printers' ornaments. These individual ornament devices are color-coded which may simplify some of the organization initially, though I presume the blocks are not individually color-coded. Even so, I believe it would assist in the visual thinking process. 
     The Albany Institute of History and Art describes this set of toy cursive design blocks, as having game pieces included, but has little other description. I discovered the source of it after researching the history of a recently acquired chromolithographed label for The Embossing Company's Toy Blocks, dating back to the late 19th century. 

This 5 inch square label of a charming circus clown and pig was originally glued to a wooden box of embossed and painted wooden toy blocks, such as those seen in this later 1930 edition of this toy. My research also lead me to learn more about some of the many other wonderful toys from this company, such as the set of Illustrated Cubes (wooden blocks) circa 1900 and the Wonderwood, Play it With Flowers toy, circa 1925. 

The illustrator of this box design with the wonderful wonderwood title created with flower petals, happens to be Norman Price (1877-1951), a 1978 inductee to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

Color Cubes is another great teaching toy which I think could benefit a budding designer of any age. These simple and timeless toys are not just for blockheads. They are produced in four color variations, and one can create a myriad of designs within a square—again, much like miniature type ornaments. The examples below of this timeless toy originated from Sushipot.  

The Kolor Blox, also from Sushipot, is another similar learning toy, but with the addition of the half-circle shape, which invites all sorts of new options.

::Source of 1926 advertisement: Old Wood Toys

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Art of the Japanese Stencil

Stencils have long intrigued me as they are one of the oldest and simplest methods of making multiples of images. At the hands of a skilled artist, they can also be one of the most challenging and beautiful.
     This lovely mid-century sample book of designer's stencil patterns recently stopped me in my tracks. It is printed on Japanese paper in a method called katagami, and is one of six books (all sold, mind you), from the Boston Book CompanyI felt they all warranted display for reasons that should be apparent. With Japanese stab bindings, the six albums contain nearly 600 full-page designs in all. The catalogs are from Kamiya Kichinosuke of Matsuya (the company name).
     Katagami, is the term for the Japanese paper stencil used to make elaborate patterns for printing on a variety of substrates. Although stencilling can be a relatively simple printing process, this technique took skilled craftsmen years to master. The history of katagami can be traced back to the samurai warrior's armor in the 8th century, but it wasn't until the 17th century when the practice of printing the patterns on kimono fabrics began to flourish in Japan. In short, the stencils are made from a thin sheet of mulberry paper treated with persimmon juice to give it strength and water resistance. The sheets are then hung in a closed room and smoked for several days in order to harden the persimmon coating. For more detail, the Cooper Hewitt Museum produced this text for an exhibit on katagami in 1979, and recently demonstrated the process here 


My discovery of the Japanese katagami books at the Boston Book Company led me on a trail to another curious book about the process. The Book of Delightful and Strange Designs was written and printed in three languages in 1893 by Andrew White Tuer (1838-1900), a London stationer and printer from his Leadenhall Press, one of the most innovative of the Victorian era. Tuer writes with a wry wit and keen interest about the Japanese stencil process from the vantage point of a novice, often deferring to "the Gentle Reader" in his comments. He does draw a few interesting comparisons and insights to lithographic printing when describing the registration process. 

Tuer's book is a very quick and fun read and includes 100 katagami examples. One of my new favorite sites, Codex99 also wrote a great analysis with footnotes on this same book (which I discovered only after finding the Internet Archive version.)
     As another fun sidenote, I learned that Andrew Tuer and his printing partner Abraham Field, were responsible for publishing the influential Printer's International Specimen Exchange from 1880 to 1898. This annual subscription for the "technical education of the working printer" taught a whole new generation of printers around the world about printing and design at the time. The images below are from a Specimen Exchange set which British Letterpress kindly shared on Flickr.