Voyou Désœuvré

The inspiration for the current design of the site comes from 1950s commercial art, particularly the collection of adverts at Plan59, and even more specifically this image, a 1954 advert for Jantzen swimsuits by Pete Hawley.

Pete Hawley's 1954 advert for Jantzen swimsuits combines cartoony cheesecake art, pastel colors, grid layouts and geometric sans serif fonts. There are a number of reasons why I chose the 1950s for my inspiration, but the particular aesthetic quality of this advert that fascinates me is the way in which it combines cartoonish, pin-up art with a grid layout and geometric sans-serif font: the International Style as cheesecake (there are many more examples). This seems to me to represent beautifully the peculiar modernism of the 1950s, a modernism of the banal, in which what had been a heroic futurism in the 1930s became commonplace.

So I’ve tried to replicate this Main-Street modernism by choosing a nice robust sanserif font. The images on the page use Trade Gothic, a 1948 neo-grotesque, chunky and slightly rough around the edges. If you have that font installed, the page text will use it too; otherwise, you might get Franklin Gothic, an original (rather than neo) grotesque, or Helvetica, a 1957 Swiss grotesque, rather cleaner and sleeker (and, apparently, not widely used until the 60s, so strictly anachronistic). There’s also some text in a script font, which was one of the wierdest things I found when I started looking at 50s commercial design. Kaufmann for preference, or perhaps Mistral. Or, perhaps, Comic Sans (in which case, maybe you should install some different fonts).

The site should be readable with any browser, although it might look a little strange on Internet Explorer 6. If it doesn’t work for you, let me know at web1@voyou.org.