‘The 1950s’

  1. ‘Coming Up Roses’ by Cath Kidston

    May 11, 2013 by Victoria Love

    Quadrille Publishing Ltd, 2013

    The doyenne of all things vintage, the ‘Cath Kidston’ brand is now recognised by more than 50% of women between the ages of 16 and 65. (Sanderson, 2013). The primary purveyor of ‘kitchenalgia’, her floral prints and cute polka dots have come to represent an idealised notion of a 1950s housewife and a life of afternoon tea that modern, working women idealise and seek comfort in. (Wood, 2009). ‘Coming Up Roses’ celebrates twenty years of the ‘Cath Kidston’ brand and is due for release in April 2013. It also ties in with a range of the company’s other wares that all sell under the ‘Coming Up Roses’ label as part of the same celebratory theme.

    'Coming Up Roses' by Cath Kidston, 2013.

    Fig. S – ‘Coming Up Roses’ by Cath Kidston, 2013. ( www.cathkidston.com)

    While undoubtedly successful, I think this cover design fails somewhat. The white section, with the title printed in a bold, red, sans-serif typeface, flies in the face of all things ‘Kidston’. The brand has made its name through its use of delicate patterns and motifs, so this design seems uncharacteristically bold and modern.

    'Coming Up Roses' by Cath Kidston, 2013.

    Fig. T – ‘Coming Up Roses’ by Cath Kidston, 2013. ( www.facebook.com)

    What is unclear from the image is that the title is actually printed on a white wrap-around band that folds inside the cover. Once the band is removed, we are left with the typical, floral pattern, which is printed onto an imitation cloth cover and the title stamped on the spine in red; it has regained the feminine delicacy that is typical of the brand. While not a complete failure, I think that the designer could have retained more subtlety and perhaps thought through the impact of the cover when viewed as an online thumbnail; the wrap-around band looks as though it is just a thick, white section and is jarring.

     'Coming Up Roses' by Cath Kidston, 2013.

    Fig. U – ‘Coming Up Roses’ by Cath Kidston, 2013.
    ( news.cathkidston.com)

    This is a celebratory book and the huge, ardent, female audience has allowed the production of a book which stands apart. The title stamping, the application of a customised imitation cloth cover and a printed, de-bossed wrap-around band will have incurred a higher production cost. The signed edition even comes packaged a presentation box, wrapped in the company’s signature ‘Antique Rose’ wallpaper. Given the brand’s popularity, cult following and strong sales history of £53.1m in 2011(Goldfingle, 2012), a high sales volume is almost guaranteed; this would easily justify the extra costs and allowing for elevated production values.

    'Coming Up Roses' (Signed copy) in a presentation box, 2013.

    Fig. V – ‘Coming Up Roses’ (Signed copy) in a presentation box, 2013. ( www.cathkidston.co.uk)


  2. ‘The Age Atomic’ by Adam Christopher

    May 11, 2013 by Victoria Love

    'The Age Atomic' - Adam Christopher, 2013.

    Fig. W – ‘The Age Atomic’ – Adam Christopher, 2013. ( www.adamchristopher.co.uk)

    This book cover, by nature of its content is highly reminiscent of the 1950s ‘space race’. Nuclear power had been harnessed at the beginning of the decade and Russia had launched the ‘Sputnik’ satellite, s o there was a social fascination with everything ‘futuristic’. The connotations of nuclear and ‘atomic’ are clearly represented by the sickly, neon green colour. Incidentally, the neon globe in the centre, coupled with the stylised ‘hazmat’ suited figure engenders feelings of unease and represents the dystopian, alternate universe in which the novel is set.


  3. ‘The Guggenheim’ by Hilary Ballon

    May 11, 2013 by Victoria Love

    'The Guggenheim' - Hilary Ballon, 2009.

    Fig. X – ‘The Guggenheim’ – Hilary Ballon, 2009.
    ( bookcoverarchive.com)

    This cover design is greatly inspired by the work of the artist it features, Frank Lloyd Wright. The concentric circle design reflects the nature of the building itself; the Guggenheim museum is built around a spiral gallery. Visitors ascend to the top floor before walking back down in the spiral, viewing the artwork. It is also highly influenced by the ‘Swiss’ or ‘International Style’ Movements, which were prevalent in the 1950s, in particular, the following poster by Joseph Müller-Brockmann. It has been labelled as his “most recognized, and most ripped off, piece of work.” (William Purcell, n.d.)

    'Zurich Town Hall' poster by Joseph Müller-Brockmann, 1955.

    Fig. Y – ‘Zurich Town Hall’ poster by Joseph Müller-Brockmann, 1955. ( www.designishistory.com)

    Whilst the Guggenheim was being built in the 1950s at the same time as the ‘Swiss’ and ‘International Style’ Movements, Frank Lloyd Wright did not really follow either, rather he has his own ‘organic’ approach. Borrowing the visual iconography of two irrelevant design styles is a misleading choice by the designer; however, the cover remains evocative of the era and the building and works well.