Good cheer abounds in this festive poster designed by graphic designer and educator Linda Powell. The poster is part of a set of four created to promote the 1978 Herman Miller Christmas Party. The beloved Zeeland, Michigan furniture company has a hearty tradition of exceptionally made products and innovative communication design, geared both outwardly, for potential customers, and internally, elevating everything from campus signage and advertising for company picnics to study-worthy investigations of graphic communication.
Linda Powell spent fifteen years working as a graphic designer and Senior Communications Manager at Herman Miller, Inc. Here, she employs the the theme “sounds of Christmas,” and the phrase “Ho, Ho, Ho,” associated with jolly Santa Claus, who she depicts in the uppermost “O.” By orienting the onomotopeic phrase vertically, Powell spatially translates the cadence of the phrase, and suggests the convivial attitude of the company party. The crimson background and legible, snow-colored lettering further communicate the festive theme and intent behind the poster. So, too, does the visage of St. Nicholas, with the face of an older gentleman-bearded and mustached, eyes squinting with smile, and topped by a holly-crested cap. It’s an image ready for a Christmas card of yesteryear; instantly recognizable.
Linda Powell has been the recipient of numerous awards, notably the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Fellow Award-the highest honor offered to members of the graphic design community. Powell’s current work is a reflection of her pioneering efforts as a designer and forward-thinking educator for future graphic design professionals: she is leading the establishment of the West Michigan Graphic Design Archives at the Zhang Legacy Collections Center at Western Michigan University.
Caroline O’Connell is the Collections Assistant in the Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design Department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.