The Friendly Swiss

Herbert Matter

There are two sayings in Hollywood that I like: "The ass you kick on the way up is the one you kiss on the way down," and "Blame others, take credit, deny everything." I know quite a few people that live by the motto of blame, credit, etc., and ignore the ass kicking advice. I've known fine designers who, after the first taste of fame, became heinous and awful divas making demands and driving kind conference organizers to tears. And I know fine designers who have been famous for years and are the first to wrestle credit away from others. My friend, John Bielenberg, suggested I start a magazine or blog that is like Vanity Fair of the design world, telling all the stories. That sounds fun, but I'd like to keep at least the few friends I still have.

Conversely, I am endlessly amazed at the down to earth, generous nature of some of the industries legends. 90% of them are just good people, willing to help others, devote time, and always have a funny story at dinner. From what I understand, Herbert Matter was one of the least pompous designers in the field. I've never heard anything that paints him as difficult or negative. From all accounts, he was a true mensch. You wouldn't expect that from his work. It's so brilliant and confident that the author would have all the right in the world to be a jerk. But, it's proof that either we as designers are, on the whole, pretty darned good. Or we're nitwits and falling behind while other in different professions claw, stab, and blackmail their way to the top.

Don't be alarmed, three "Herbert" stories in a row does not mean the next one will be about Herbert Hoover.

The Customs Of The Barbarous And Civilized

I planned on taking photos of the good and awful outfits at the AIGA Bright Lights event. But, then I was sidetracked by the sight of the bar. Clearly, my drinking is getting in the way of my fashion photo-journalism (is that an oxymoron?). What I need is another person who follows me around and takes photos while I'm busy spilling cocktails on someone.

This year, the event called for cocktail attire, as opposed to black tie. Personally, I prefer the black tie option. It's nice to show respect for the Medalists who are honored for a lifetime of work. This year, however, I was relieved to not wear the tuxedo. When I tried it on for another event, it was like putting on a child's suit. I must have been ten pounds lighter when I bought it. I guess those Sunny Von Bulow dinners of martinis and ice cream sundaes were a bad idea. I was confused about the "cocktail attire" idea. Was this what I wear at home at cocktail hour? Pajamas? Fortunately, Michael Vanderbyl, the best dressed man in design, gave me the low-down. The other guests ranged from elegant and gorgeous, like Pam Williams, to clownish. Sorry, I won't name those people. I still need to work in this profession. But look for the tell all book ten years down the line.