Arts & Architecture, which ran from 1929 until 1967, was a leading American voice in mid-century modernist architecture and design. It was among the first American publications to disseminate and popularize the work of designers now inseparably linked to the movement, including George Nakashima, the Eameses, Thomas Church, and Garret Eckbo, among many others. Most famously, its Case Study Houses design-build-publish experiment enabled the most innovative modernist architects to dot the southern California landscape with residences that aspired to equally high levels of beauty and reproducibility.
As you can imagine, the magazine developed its own complementary aesthetic in photography and graphic design. Like it's contemporaries, A&A can be read today as a visual roadmap through a landscape of changing ideas both about design and about the ways in which we communicate it's power.
It's fun to thumb through the abstract and frequently minimalist cover designs, looking for signs of narrative in the modernist community's periodic reflection back upon itself. At the moment though, I'm entertained by the following sampling of ads from issues published between 1962 and 1963, when longtime publisher and editor John Entenza turned control of the magazine over to David Travers. A&A's role at the center of design conversation was by this time well established; product vendors clearly thought critically about its audience's visual vocabulary and designed their ads to marry hard-sell practicality and brand iconography.