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Artwork by Lou Dorfsman
Photographs courtesy CBS Photo Archives

Article first appeared in UCDA’s Designer magazine (Vol. 33, Issue 3, Fall 2008)

Legendary designer Lou Dorfsman (above) died in October 2008 at the age of 90. His career with the Columbia Broadcasting System spanned more than 40 years, and his contributions to the field of visual communications were far-reaching.

In writing Dorfsman’s obituary for the New York Times, author Steven Heller commented: “Mr. Dorfsman’s work became a model for corporate communications, in the marketing discipline now called branding. In 1946, when he joined CBS as art director for its successful radio networks, the company was already a leader in both advertising and the relatively new field of corporate identity. Frank Stanton, then CBS’s president, understood the business value of sophisticated design and had earlier hired William Golden as the overall art director; in 1951 Golden designed the emblematic CBS eye, among the most identifiable logos in the world.”

“Mr. Dorfsman not only extended Golden’s aesthetic by combining conceptual clarity and provocative visual presentation, but developed his own signature style of graphic design.

“Unlike so many product advertisements created by Madison Avenue, which in the 1940s and ’50s were visually mundane and text-heavy, Mr. Dorfsman’s designs featured clear typography, simple slogans and smart illustration.”

Dorfsman created the design for the nine-panelled typographic dynamo, “Gastrotypographicalassemblage,” for the walls of the CBS headquarters’ cafeteria wall. Featuring superb typography by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase, efforts are underway to preserve this masterpiece.

Above (top to bottom): Lou Dorfsman’s “Gastrotypographicalassemblage” final installation; original sketch; and two comps.

Above (left to right): Two spreads from Dorfsman & CBS; William Golden’s 1951 CBS logo.

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