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Wooden wall of text


You may have seen photos of it in a design magazine or a book on graphic design in the Sixties: the 35-foot wall of words created by Lou Dorfsman and Herb Lubalin for the cafeteria of CBS television’s new corporate headquarters in 1966. The collage effect, and the lettering styles used, reflected the typographic aesthetic that was being popularized by Lubalin and Tom Carnase, which later bloomed into the establishment of ITC and Upper & lower case. Dorfsman conceived this “Gastrotypographicalassemblage” and art-directed its execution. He considers it his “Magnum Opus, his gift to the world.” It is certainly a monument to a particularly lively period in American graphic design.

But the 9-panel sculpture was removed and dumped in the late 1980s, after tastes had changed. The panels were salvaged by a New York designer, Nick Fasciano, and now the Center for Design Study, in Atlanta, is working to restore the damaged lettering and give the type wall a permanent home.

There’s a lot of restoration needed; time and neglect have taken their toll. Rick Anwyl, the Center’s interim executive director, estimates that it will take around $250,000 to fully restore the sculpture, “to see it as part of a permanent traveling exhibition on American Design, a tool for education and expanded awareness of the value of intelligently applied design.” The Center is a nonprofit foundation, and they’re actively soliciting donations to fund the restoration. Perhaps more importantly, they’re trying to think creatively about ways to approach raising the money. This is, obviously, not a small project.

The CBS cafeteria wall, in situ

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