The History and Practice of Graphic Design in a New York City Archive’s Stunning Collection

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The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at the Cooper Union turns 30 this month. And like any good design-savvy organization, they’re celebrating by showcasing the best of their archive, exhibiting more than 50,000 pieces of design ephemera.

On view are World War I-era posters, specimen books from ‘30s Germany, an early sketch of the MTV logo, copies of Colors magazine (Benetton’s mag from the 1990s), and the ‘60s-era taboo-breaking erotic Eros magazine that Lubalin co-created with Ralph Ginzburg — who was imprisoned for distributing it in the United States mail. As the New York Times explains: “First published in 1962, Eros was a stunningly designed hardcover ‘magbook’ devoted to eroticism. While Playboy and other men’s magazines of the time catered mostly to male fantasies, Eros (named for the Greek god of love and desire) covered a wide swath of sexuality in history, politics, art and literature.”

The Herb Lubalin Study Center is one of the first archives ever devoted to graphic design — and they allow visitors to have hands-on access to the collection (by appointment, of course). See a preview of the collection in our gallery. Visit the Center’s exhibit Thirty: 1985-2015 through October 3.

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Sketch for a proposed logo for the MTV network, 1980. Herb Lubalin Associates, Inc.

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Colors Magazine, Issue No. 4, 1993. Edited and art directed by Tibor Kalman, design by Paul Ritter; photos by Oliviero Toscani

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Colors Magazine, Issue No. 4, 1993. Edited and art directed by Tibor Kalman, design by Paul Ritter; photos by Oliviero Toscani

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Physicians’ sample mailers designed for Geigy by Fred Troller, 1964–65

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Cover of Avant Garde magazine, issue No. 1, art directed by Herb Lubalin. 1968

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Sketch and final artwork for a headline in U&lc magazine, drawn by Herb Lubalin, 1977

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Cover of Eros magazine, issue No. 2, art directed by Herb Lubalin, 1962

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Sketch and final artwork for a headline in U&lc magazine, drawn by Herb Lubalin, 1978

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Poster promoting a design competition designed by Herb Lubalin, 1968

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Push Pin Almanack, designed by the Push Pin Studios, 1954–55

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Staff Magazine, designed and art directed by Alvin Lustig, 1944

Courtesy of Herb Lubalin Study Center

Staff Magazine, designed and art directed by Alvin Lustig, 1944