Logo, signage system, corporate identity - what is part of today's corporate image was still in its infancy in the middle of the 20th century. Stankowski + Duschek, a Stuttgart-based graphic design studio, was a pioneer in its development and for several decades was one of the leading communication design firms in Germany.
Famous trademarks and appearances have emerged from the partnership since 1970, for example for Deutsche Bank, Viessmann and Messe Frankfurt. The constructive aesthetics of the sign systems reveal the environment of concrete art in which Anton Stankowski (1906-1998) and Karl Duschek (1947-2011) moved simultaneously.
"Signs are visual telegrams, similar to flags." When Anton Stankowski formulated this insight in 1978, he was already one of the most important voices in advertising graphics of his time. After first making a name for himself as part of the Swiss avant-garde in the 1930s, his office, founded in Stuttgart in 1951, consolidated his status as a pioneer in graphic design. Brand design - the "supreme discipline" of visual communication - was part of the repertoire from the very beginning. Stankowski's ability to shorten complex messages like telegrams and condense them into memorable sign systems developed into his own trademark. Equally striking was his versatile approach, in which typography, photography and painting met graphic elements.
Karl Duschek: Partner in design
In Karl Duschek, who joined the studio in 1972 and soon became a partner, Stankowksi found a like-minded person: He too was not only active as a graphic designer, but also as a freelance artist. The interweaving of art and design, of "free" and "applied", characterized the output of the graphic studio, which soon traded under the name Stankowski + Duschek and which, after Stankowski's death in 1998, continued under Showerk's leadership until 2011. The reduced forms, geometric surfaces, clear colours and analytical structures of the concrete works of art of the two designers found their way into their graphic communication signs and systems.
Pioneer for Logos and Corporate Identity
Brand development, corporate identity and information graphics have been Stankowski + Duschek's core business for five decades. In addition to the "slash in the square", which became world-famous as the trademark of Deutsche Bank, logos were created for SEL, Werkbund, Rat für Formgebung, Rewe, BKK, MüRück, PapStar, Deutsche Börse and many more. The Berlin layout, which from 1969 determined all of the city's graphic products, was also designed as a system brand by Anton Stankowski. For companies such as Viessmann, the studio had already developed a comprehensive appearance before the term Corporate Identity had reached Germany, and numerous universities, hospitals, major events and trade fair companies ordered their orientation and guidance systems here.
The exhibition in the Art Library
The exhibition in the Art Library presents the work of the Graphic Studio Stankowski + Duschek as well as Stankowski's forerunner offices in around 300 exhibits. A broad spectrum of sketches, variants, executed designs and a multitude of resulting printed matter from advertisements to company fonts illustrates the working process of the communication designer before the routine use of the computer. The boundaries between art and advertising merge in dialogue with freelance works.
A large part of the exhibited works comes from the extensive Stankowski + Duschek used graphic estate, donated by Karl Duschek's widow Meike Gatermann to the Kunstbibliothek der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin in 2012. The presentation will be extended by loans from the Stankowski Foundation in Stuttgart.
Catalogue and programme of events for the exhibition
The publication Das Grafische Atelier Stankowski + Duschek (approx. 240 pages with 300 illustrations, edited by Christina Thomson) will accompany the exhibition. It documents the studio's work with scientific essays, contemporary witness reports and a complete list of all clients - a fascinating insight into the German corporate culture of the later 20th century. The catalogue was generously sponsored by Deutsche Bank AG and Kreissparkasse Esslingen-Nürtingen.
The exhibition is accompanied by an event programme with tandem guided tours, a "near it" evening, a panel discussion and workshops for young people.