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Inspiration Explorer - The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography - New York, New York

PDC member Maggie Ruder researches graphic design

My background is originally in graphic design, and I find that I love to have printed materials and graphics as part of my research process. The details of printing technique, paper finishes and typography can all add to a final design. I was originally worried that this entry may be too graphics focused, but really - who cares? This place is amazing and worth a visit, no matter your background.

The Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography, located at The Copper Union is open by appointment only - you have to email ahead of time to set up a window. While this originally deterred me, when I spoke to the curator, he had a wonderful reason for it. At most graphics archives, curators will pull items out on a rotating basis, or pull special samples for you - but you rarely have the opportunity to see the full collection first hand. At the Lubalin Center, they make appointments so that only a few people can be there at a time, and you can peruse the entire collection, unsupervised, allowing you to take your time, dig into certain topics that interest you more, and really get to touch, open and page through every piece. There are drawers of posters, books, magazines, propaganda, slides, sketches, and so much more - and you have the opportunity to touch and photograph anything you want.

Originally created to house the design archive of Herb Lubalin (Avante Garde magazine, Fact magazine, amongst other), the collection includes a wide array of his work including editorial and advertising, typeface design, posters, logos and even sketching and print specimens. In addition to Lubalin’s work, the collection also includes work by designers like Tibor Kalman, Push Pin Studios, Paul Rand, Massimo Vignelli and many more. One section that I particularly enjoyed was a collection from CBS including samples of their ad buying and broadcasting artwork. I love the details about daily life and society that are revealed in the ads.

In addition to many classic examples of American design, the collection also houses midcentury magazines and books from around the globe. They have a collection of 1960’s Japanese magazines that is absolutely stunning.

My personal favorite is always packaging - and they have several samples of original product packaging, as well as the process sketches behind them.

They also have an extensive book collection covering architecture, typography, interior design, posters and just about everything in between, as well as some collections of slides documenting various interiors, objects and design work spanning from 1950-1970. In search of something very specific? The curator of the collection, Alexander Tochilovsky was incredibly helpful and knowledgable. If you schedule a visit, you can let him know what you are in search of, and he will pull samples or collections for you, making your hunt more straight forward. He is also incredibly knowledgable of other collections and archives, and eager to get more professionals into the archive to utilize it. Even if graphics aren’t your thing, I would highly recommend spending a few hours at this place next time you’re in New York.

Information on the hours and appointments can be found on their website:

Additional Reading:

The Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives

RIT Graphic Design Archive

Herman Miller Why Magazine

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