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Unimark International: The Design of Business and the Business Design 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-3037781845
ISBN-10: 303778184X
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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Lars Muller; 1 edition (October 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 303778184X
  • ISBN-13: 978-3037781845
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 10.3 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: #1,436,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
In "Unimark International" professor Jan Conradi masterfully articulates the historical, social and cultural events that prepared ground for the rise of the Corporate Identity era in the United States, an intense period that played a key role in establishing the way big (and later small) companies all over the planet would communicate to the outside world and their customers. Unimark International was perhaps the most notable and important pioneer of what is today commonly referred to as "branding". Studying its rise, success and fall is of fundamental in order to understand the relationship and contradictions between design and marketing and how that relationship today plays a vital role in determining our visual culture and the aspect of pretty much everything we touch.
More than a book that revolves merely around design, Unimark International is first and foremost a lesson in business, company culture and how those forces shape our everyday world and experiences as human beings. Designers are only a small percentage of the people who should get this book.
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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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