Friday, February 28, 2014

BOOK NOTE: Coca-Cola as Design Icon

What do these odd couples have in common: Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell, JFK and Richard Nixon, the Andrews Sisters and the Kinks? The answer: all were Coca-Cola enthusiasts!

Assouline Publishers, hard cover, 208 pages, 125 illustrations in color and black and white, $65

Billions of people worldwide, over generations, have been lured by the winning synthesis of content and packaging that has made Coca-Cola an icon of American popular culture. To celebrate the company’s 125th anniversary, Assouline has released a cheery new volume (with forward by Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent) abundantly illustrated with photos, posters, graphic and fine art; and punctuated by apt quotes from poets, songwriters and politicians (Averell Harriman: “Americans wanted to settle all our difficulties with Russia and then go to the movies and drink Coke.”) A fascinating timeline/epilogue chronicles the company’s enduring commitment to topnotch visual presentation: the mindful selection, in1886, of a signature typeface; a trademarked, instantly identifiable “contour bottle”; fulsome use of red – the color of power and passion; and employment of charismatic design. (Industrial design giant Raymond Loewy, for example, created the company’s sleek fountain dispenser in 1947.) Together, these elements have made Coke the most recognizable product on the planet, and – with 79 million Facebook friends to date – probably the most popular.

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