After I left CBS Records, in 1982, Michael Vanderbyl invited me to lecture with some other designers at the California Institute of Arts and Crafts. One of the speakers was Kathy McCoy, who was then running the graphic-design program at Cranbrook. McCoy showed work she had designed at Unimark in the sixties. The work was in the classic Swiss international style that was popular at that time (and is now popular again). She recounted how the greatest compliment one could pay any work was to say that it was “really clean.” Then she discussed Robert Venturi and company’s 1972 treatise Learning from Las Vegas. McCoy emphasized the breakthrough in this architect’s thinking and how it had affected graphic design in the subsequent decade. “Clean” was no longer good enough; as a result, we were all becoming postmodernists. Postmodern in this context meant employing some decorative graphic devices that may have come from classical architecture or geometry, or the act of deconstructing typography to alter meaning and create a more expressionistic layout.
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