This weekend, The New York Times ran an obituary for Lou Dorfsman, who spent decades as CBS’s creative director. Mr. Dorfsman was granted incredible latitude in developing the network’s signature look on air, in print, and in the company’s Black Rock headquarters where he was tasked with, “selecting the type and making certain that the spacing between letters was flawless for the numerals on wall clocks, the elevator buttons, even the elevator inspection stickers,” according to Steven Heller. Mr. Dorfsman was 90.
Mr. Heller pays particular attention to Mr. Dorfsman’s Gastrotypographicalassemblage, a typographic installation at CBS’s cafeteria, which he describes as follows:
For the building’s cafeteria, he designed a mammoth wall, 35 feet wide by 8 ½ feet tall, of hand-milled wood type that wed antique letterforms to modern aesthetics. It was titled ‘Gastrotypographicalassemblage’ and spelled out all the fare the restaurant offered. It was removed after 25 years and is now being restored.
AIGA’s Richard Anwyl wrote about the work in March, calling it “as legendary as its visionary designer and art director.”
Wrote Mr. Anwyl:
Dorfsman, now approaching 90, considers the wall his magnum opus, his gift to the world. Unceremoniously discarded by CBS management in the early 1990s, the wall’s nine panels were thankfully salvaged by New York designer Nick Fasciano. Time and improper storage had ravaged the monument, however, leaving it in a state of disrepair. The Center for Design Study, having acquired the wall, is engaged in fundraising to support the meticulous and extensive restoration required. The goal is to see Dorfsman’s wall restored to its full integrity and as part of a permanent traveling exhibition on historical American design, to serve as a tool for education and expanding awareness of the value of intelligently applied design. The wall is a window to the past that should be built up, not torn down.
The original sketch of the wall, by Herb Lubalin, can be found here. Examples of Mr. Dorfsman’s work can be found here and here.