Thanks, Lucian Bernard.

The first decisive blow against the Art Nouveau movement came from Lucian Bernhard in 1906 in the form of a poster. The designer entered a competition to design an advertisement for a German match company, first illustrating a poster using the popular German Jugendstil style. Upon rejection, Bernhard entered a second poster – this one compiled of a plain black background, a pair of matches, and the company’s name. The strategy was addition by subtraction; the designer wished to have control of the viewer’s attention. By showing only the two most important advertising elements on the poster, he was able to do so; and so, the Sachplakat style was born.

Rather than designing with ornamental complexity through the use of Art Nouveau, Sachplakat portrayed products directly, aiming to convey blunt messages to consumers through simplified advertisements. The concept was a revolutionary change in the design world, embracing the concept of addition by subtraction. Companies were no longer able to hire designers that would obscure their product through the complex designs of recent styles. While the style was not well-accepted by all, it was indeed progressive.

Although it was not realized at first, Sachplakat was beneficial to product sales and was a colossal accomplishment in the world of poster design. In comparison to previous styles, this was the first time that the product was the focal point as opposed to a message. Companies aimed to  gain customers through the effectiveness of their product instead of the design of their poster. If this change were to occur today, this would also be effective. Companies could hire designers and product photographers, rather than illustrators. It would take less time to design a poster since there was no need for illustration. The style was greatly effective for product design; however, Sachplakat is not easily transferable to event or service posters. Simplistic design for these things is effective; however, it requires more thought and effort than just portraying a product.

Although introduced over 100 years ago, Sachplakat is used widely in 2016. Many advertisements today use a variation of this style, gaining the attention of passer-bys with plain backgrounds and thoroughly planned typography. Technology companies use this strategy quite often, Apple specifically. Using one sans-serif typeface and a light-colored background, designers illustrate the product name, a catchphrase, and a photograph of the product. Today, designers face issues of which typefaces to use, whether or not to introduce photographs, and color schemes. Like twentieth century Germany, these challenges are faced by trial and error. It is a matter of learning the product audience and trying different strategies to learn what works best for your product. Sachplakat was a revolutionary step in the world of design and paved the way for simplistic blunt design.


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