Go West: Louise Sandhaus on Graphic Design, California Style

earthquakesTo understand the shape-shifting nature of the California design scene, look no further than earthquakes, mudslides, fires, and riots. These natural and manmade disasters endemic to the Left Coast provide the cataclysmic title of a forthcoming book by Louise Sandhaus. The designer and CalArts faculty member focuses on five decades—1936 to 1986—that span Alvin Lustig to Deborah Sussman, from Saul Bass‘s mod film titles to Atari video games, with pit stops at Disneyland propaganda posters, Alexander Girardiana, and early animated abstractions for Robert Abel and Richard Taylor‘s bubbly 7-Up ad of the 1970s.

CalArts students are picking up where the book—out November 30 from Metropolis Books—leaves off by identifying, researching, and documenting neglected designers in Sandhaus’s “Making History” course. Their findings will be compiled in a new website dedicated to California design history. “Earthquakes is a conversation starter,” says Sandhaus. “I want to inspire others to add to the history of California design. There’s a lot of ‘wow’ work and makers that are going to end up in the dustbin of history if documentation doesn’t happen.”