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Unimark International: The Design of Business and the Business Design Paperback – October 29, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-3037781845 ISBN-10: 9783037781845 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Lars Muller; 1 edition (October 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9783037781845
  • ISBN-13: 978-3037781845
  • ASIN: 303778184X
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,172,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Jan Conradi, author of Unimark International, believes that Unimark has been unfairly ostracised from designers' collective memory. In her view, it is a historically important organisation that deserves to be much better known. As many as 400 people worked at Unimark during its heyday... and the company, ravenous for expansion from its first day, opened offices in Chicago, New York, Detroit and else­where in the US, and around the world. Nothing on this scale of global ambition was seen again until the design boom of the 1980s. --RICK POYNER, Creative Review

Some say they [Unimark International] were responsible for the Helveticization of American business. But modernizing and universalizing typography was only part of their approach to making global design. This book, the first history of the legendary (among designers, that is) company, is not for everyone. But for those interested in the practice of corporate "branding"... this is an early missing link. STEVEN HELLER, The New York Times Book Review

The subtitle of this highly detailed and somewhat hefty book is perhaps one clue to summing it up: a case study in design as a business.... It is lavishly illustrated, in the manner of a design history text, but stops short of an extensive formal or aesthetic analysis of the look and the historical place of the work itself. This is a highly detailed, tightly focused history, showing evidence of close and faithful transcription of the archives. --BRIAN DONNELLY, Design Issues 

About the Author

Janet Conradi, Professor of Graphic Design at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Don Kline VINE VOICE on December 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
In the interests of what some call "full disclosure," I must say up front that I was the copy editor of this book; that I have known its author, Jan Conradi, since 2006; and that I watched her ride an up-and-down Ferris wheel throughout the 15-month final construction of this book. I edited two drafts and read them three times. I did so out of friendship, with respect and regard for Jan's writing ability, and at her request.

Design historians, few as they are, have not explored mid to late twentieth century design with the discipline of in-depth scholarship. This book does. Liberally illustrated, superbly produced, relaxed but thorough in its storytelling, Conradi's tale engages the reader and is worthy of audiences comprised of more than just designers or other design historians. Attention CEOs!

Professor Conradi, in the years before her completion of this book, was consumed by Unimark: Unimark and its organization; Unimark as an international phenomenon; Unimark and its dynamic personalities; Unimark and its self-proclaimed mission; Unimark and its legacy. In her research, analyses and careful assembly, Conradi has put together a first-rate account of an epochal powerhouse in the field of western design. Alternately derided by some and hailed by others for championing modernism, this book rises above such narrowness. By presenting the beliefs, work ethic, design practices, business climate and societal norms that contributed to Unimark's founding and then to its international practice, Conradi allows the reader to appreciate the firm's raison d'être, to see its work in broad, social and economic contexts, to learn what lay behind its many successes, and to understand how it failed as a viable operation but not as an idea.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Loarie on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unimark International `the book'

Unimark International `the book' is a very important document for understanding lineage from Bauhaus and Swiss Typography leading to our current day environment and corporate communications.

Unimark was a corporate design leader in mid 60s to mid 70s, servicing some of America's Major corporations with offices in New York, Chicago, and Detroit. This is a comprehensive story about Unimark's founding, development, aspirations, downfall, and eventual collapse. Unimark focused on Graphic Design as an answer to print media, signage, corporate logos, annual reports, product design, and advertising.

Print media is currently on its decline with Personal Computers, IPhone, Tablets replacing communication between individuals and corporations. Design is in greater need today than in 1960s as we have a proliferation of communications.

There is a lineage from Bauhaus and Swiss typography leading to Unimark. Unimark has its roots in both Bauhaus integration of Typography, Art, and Architecture, and Swiss Typography. Prior to being a Unimark founder Ralph Eckerstrom was employed by Walter Paepcke.

Paepcke built Container Corporation of America. CCA into one of America's most admired corporations. CCA under Paepcke supported art and humanities. Paepcke taught Eckerstrom the logic of integrating art and design into industry which resulted in proclaimed CCA advertising series `Great Ideas of Western Man'. Paepcke's employees were encouraged to study humanities, to gain understanding in how their work within CCA corporation related to a larger human community.

Container's design consultant, Herbert Bayer, who held the title Chairman of Container's Design Department from 1956 until 1965.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Garrett Lubertine on July 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 1965, Unimark International was a cheeky start-up design firm, headquartered in Chicago. The founders blew away well-respected competition to land Ford Motor Company as their first real client. By 1972 they were the largest design firm in the world; by the end of the 70s they'd closed all world offices but for Milan.

Are you a fan of Mad Men?

Watching Mad Men is like watching Unimark, complete with conflicts between creative and sales, and so many other aspects of the business and of the time. Read "Unimark International: The Design of Business and the Business of Design" for a sense of how real Mad Men can be. This book has won a rightful permanent place on my bookshelf. Having read it 3 times already, I find myself taking it out often for reference and visual inspiration. A page turner backed with excellent research, writing and photography. I highly recommend this book!
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More About the Author

Jan Conradi is Professor of Graphic Design at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. She often presents at design conferences and as a visiting designer at other educational programs in the US and Europe. Engaging students in the nuances of typography and connecting them with a vibrant history of graphic design is her specialty. When not in a classroom, Jan can be found handsetting type in her letterpress studio, writing and constructing artist books, or happily photographing "ghost signs" and letterforms in the environment.

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