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Forty Posters for Forty Years

Pentagram was founded 40 years ago today, on June 12, 1972, in London by the designers Alan Fletcher, Colin Forbes, Theo Crosby, Kenneth Grange and Mervyn Kurlansky. The company was formed when Pentagram’s predecessor, Crosby Fletcher Forbes, added two new partners, Grange and Kurlansky, expanding the multi-disciplinary partnership to five.

For the anniversary the 19 current Pentagram partners, under the creative direction of Harry Pearce, have designed a series of posters for the 40 years since Pentagram’s birth. Each partner created posters for two or three different years, and the only parameters for the series were the use of black, white and red (Pentagram Warm Red, of course). The subjects range from significant historic or cultural landmarks—see Paula Scher’s tribute to the 1977 New York blackout, Daniel Weil’s depiction of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Emily Oberman’s salute to the 1991 release of Nirvana’s Nevermind, or Luke Hayman’s take on the 2008 financial crisis—to events in Pentagram’s history, like the founding of Pentagram Berlin in 2002, commemorated in a poster by the office’s partner, Justus Oehler. Some partners take an illustrative approach. In her three posters, Natasha Jen, working with Pentagram designer Jin Kwang Kim, has created landscapes featuring iconic Pentagram projects. (In a demonstration of Pentagram’s longevity, Jen, the company’s most recent partner, designed the poster for the year 1973, which predates her birth.) In his poster for 1982, DJ Stout depicts the company as a collection of chairs, offering a “seat at the table” for designers for 40 years.

The posters are presented in a special newspaper produced by Newspaper Club that was given away as a gift at our recent 40th anniversary party in London. The anniversary has also been commemorated in “The Forty Story,” the short film created by Naresh Ramchandani.

Here’s to 40 more!

Poster for the year 1979 designed by DJ Stout. The caption reads ‘Nine in Seventy-Nine. That ’70s Show,
London Edition…Groovy Baby!’

Poster for the year 1982 designed by DJ Stout. The caption reads ‘A chair at the table since 1972.
Still sitting pretty after forty years.’