In the design industry, all is not what it seems. In fact, the truth can sometimes be a whole lot stranger than fiction. Just when you think you know the history of design inside and out, you find a compilation of unexpected design facts.
We found them on Design Facts, which is a stellar website that’s compiled a slew of interesting and little-known design factoids from all over the place. We’ve picked out the ones that interested us the most.
Try these on for size:
1) In the early 1970s, it was Richard Nixon who promoted the Federal Design Improvement program, which was an initiative meant to upgrade federal design.
2) In his “Essay on Typography”, published back in 1931, English typeface designer Eric Gill advocated for the then-controversial idea of “justified” typesetting.
3) Swiss typeface designer Adrian Frutiger took three years to finish designing the Univers family of typeface, which includes 21 sans-serif fonts.
4) American graphic artist Ethel Reed was a pioneer in graphic design and illustration, noted for being the first American woman to get widespread recognition in both disciplines.
5) Semiotics is defined as the study of signs and symbols, as well as their application and interpretation.
6) CBS headquarters’ cafeteria wall, which is covered with more than 1450 letters, was conceived by Lou Dorfsman back in 1965.
7) Sans-serif typeface debuted in print way back in 1816 when it was first featured in a specimen book by one William Caslon IV.
8) Italian Renaissance printers came up with so-called printers’ marks designed to identify and protect their works, much like watermarks on images are used today.
9) Carl Sagan and Frank Drake designed the Pioneer plaque, which was the very first physical message that was sent into space in 1972.
10) Chinese alchemist Bi Sheng was the first in history to use movable type in approximately 1045, when he used wood and then clay to create type.
11) The original Apple Macintosh icons were designed by one Susan Kare; a lot of these visual metaphors are still being used in the present.
12) Information design was pioneered by Czech designer Ladislav Sutnar.
13) Diminuendo, which is the principle of diminishing scale, was applied to typography by Irish monks.
14) Wolfgang Weingart, the renowned typographer and graphic designer, established the foundation for the New-Wave typographic movement when he rejected the International style.
15) The world-famous CBS eye logo has an unusual design inspiration: It came from the Pennsylvania Dutch, who painted hex signs on their barns to repel evil forces.
16) MTV’s logo was designed in 1981 by Manhattan Design, which was a New York City studio famous for its controversial work in the music industry.
17) There were approximately 286,100 graphic designers who were employed in the U.S. in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
18) Wolff Olins, a London Design company, had a huge role in making the use of pictorial symbols in branding more popular.
19) Plantin, an early type of font, was the inspiration for Times New Roman, which itself was created for the Times of London back in 1931.