By: Gillian Reyes
Lora Lamm is a Swiss graphic designer best known for her 10 years of work when she lived in Milan during the post-war years from 1953 to 1963 after finishing her studies in Zurich, Switzerland. During her time there, she found her own unique style by combining both Milanese and Swiss influences and design principles into her work. She did plenty of commissions designing posters, packaging and invitations for big brands, such as the La Rinascente, Pirelli and Elizabeth Arden, etc. in Milan.
Her style seems optimistic and colourful, executed by the use of typography, illustration, collage and photography. She was free to conduct experiments in her design, hence the use of different typography in each of her work, ranging from sans serifs, grotesques, and to Bodoni and other serifs. Her composition of having both a message and an image is very powerful since it “serves the purpose of communicating clearly and elegantly, with optimism and humour” (“A breath of fresh air”). Apparently, her Pirelli and La Rinascente employers at the time stated that her style is “a reflection of [her] own personality” (“A breath of fresh air”).
During her stay in Milan in post-war years, a design revolution took place between the Italians and the Swiss. Big companies and businesses like the Pirelli, La Rinascente, Olivetti, Necchi and many others were open to experimentation in advertising as a result of the growing economy after WWII. They hired Swiss and Italian designers who brought forth unique designs that resulted from experiments and friendly competitions. Lora Lamm was one of the designers who stood out despite being in a “male-dominated creative atmosphere.” Berta F., a writer from the Pendulum Magazine, describes her views on designing: “She understood advertising is much more than just selling a product; it is mutual recognition between brand and public. It is also a dialogue, and she engaged – she still engages – in it with one very simple tool: proximity.” Due to this, she produced many advertisements with clear and concise compositions and messages that were understood by the audience.
Even with her accomplishments, she was written out of graphic design history books. One reason may have been because she distanced herself from other designers. Lora Lamm, herself, said, “I was working for Rinascente by day, and working for other clients by night; on holidays I went back to the Alps. Also, it was not easy in the 1950s for a young, single, foreign girl to join a crowd of male friends for bar evenings and design banter” (“A breath of fresh air”). Another reason could be that the AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale), a club of the world’s graphic designers, refused her membership.
Regardless, she is content with just being a good designer. When she went back to Switzerland, she resumed her career as a graphic designer, but stopped using the style she used in Milan since she felt that it was time to move on. Her past works will continue to be personal for her as it reflects the design revolution that took place in Milan.
F, Berta. “SWISS GRAPHIC DESIGN || Finding Lora Lamm.” Pendulum Magazine, Pendulum Magazine, 22 Sept. 2017, www.pendulummag.com/art/2017/9/21/swiss-graphic-design-finding-lora-lamm.
“A breath of fresh air.” Eye Magazine | Feature | A Breath of Fresh Air, www.eyemagazine.com/feature/article/a-breath-of-fresh-air.