Pan Am’s Helvetica Dreamtime
April 30, 2010 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Very nice. Loverly designs. Thanks!
posted by carter at 8:22 PM on April 30, 2010

Gorgeous photography on those.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:26 PM on April 30, 2010

Good stuff. I'm believe a lot of the fondness for Pan Am arises from the different airline experience of yesteryear. Yes, it used to cost more to get somewhere, but passengers were treated with respect, were allowed to retain their shoes for the entire journey, and did not travel in sweatpants.
posted by exogenous at 8:48 PM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Wow! I had a visceral deja vu experience looking at the Panama poster. Is that a famous photo, or do I remember the poster? Anyway, all the posters are amazing.
posted by gemmy at 9:03 PM on April 30, 2010

Gemmy, I swear I think that Panama poster was the cover for my 7th grade Social Studies book.
posted by puny human at 9:07 PM on April 30, 2010

Oh good god, how many posts do I have to read about fonts?!?!?!

No one made you read this.

but can the 100 people who care about this go find your own community and leave the rest of us alone?

Take your own advice.

These are wonderful, thanks.
posted by device55 at 9:10 PM on April 30, 2010 [9 favorites]

Treeshar, what's your dissertation about? I bet it would make a delightful FPP.

These posters are beautiful, and a prime example of Helvetica doing the job it was supposed to do. In other words, the font is practically invisible, and conveys its content with as little interpretation as possible, so the only thing you're left with is the striking photograph and a company name.
posted by Mizu at 9:26 PM on April 30, 2010

Great find! I really enjoyed this.
posted by sophist at 1:52 AM on May 1, 2010

fonts are practically bacon, lately.
posted by lapolla at 2:38 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh good god, how many posts do I have to read about fonts?!?!?!

Steady boy. Jump down to the FPP just below this one. It's all nice and geeky, just for you. I'm sure you'll love it. And you won't have to deal with any of those nasty fonts.


Sweet posters! I'm not sure how "forgotten" they are, though. Perhaps these posters in particular are "forgotten", but their style certainly isn't. I mean, if I were tasked to design something that evoked the classic era of international air travel, I'm pretty certain my first inclination would 1) Turn to PanAm, and 2) Turn to something very similar to these.

Perhaps it helps that I lived through and studied design during this period? I mean, this sort of work was exactly the kind of stuff we studied intently in school. In any case, it's always fun to see people today rediscover classic designs like these.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:20 AM on May 1, 2010

Dear Metafilter: Bring it on with the font and graphic design posts.
posted by Mcable at 4:36 AM on May 1, 2010

Nice post. My family flew Pan Am a lot, so I have plenty of nostalgia about it (and still call it the Pan Am Building), and I vaguely remember this brief "look." Thanks!
posted by languagehat at 5:49 AM on May 1, 2010

nice stuff, puny human - you have made some great posts last few days - glad to have you on mefi.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:10 AM on May 1, 2010

[few comments removed - folks it's easier for us to remove threadshitting if you don't respond to it. I know it's tough.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:39 AM on May 1, 2010

These are awesome, and I want someone to sell me reproductions of these.
posted by Arturus at 7:19 AM on May 1, 2010

This makes me all excited for Mad Men, season six!
posted by kimota at 7:30 AM on May 1, 2010

I really dig the photos and the composition. I wish there were some high-ish quality repros available, but I end up just getting some large prints off of a photo website if I can't find any.
posted by crasiman at 11:42 AM on May 1, 2010

@languagehat, I never flew on Pan Am before they went bankrupt. Here in Honolulu, we still have a Pan Am building, not as grand as the one in New York though. When Pan Am filed for bankruptcy I was afraid someone would change the buildings name. So far so good.

I always had a fascination with jet travel and airports during the 60's and 70's. It's probably why I always enjoyed seeing the Pan Am logo in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner. There is a shop online that actually sells replica Pan Am bags, I saw someone a month ago using it as a carry on here.

@puny human, Thanks for the post, I was more interested in the "exotic" travel posters than the Helvetica typeface but it was fascinating.
posted by hawaiitron at 1:16 PM on May 1, 2010

Metafilter has awakened my nascent font nerd. Now it required an act of incredible will not to tell my boss to stop using Comic Sans on our meeting agendas.

Great and interesting post.
posted by jeoc at 5:35 PM on May 1, 2010

These are beautiful, and I can't buy them. I'm upset.
posted by geoff. at 8:16 PM on May 1, 2010

I'm engulfed in nostalgia here. Pan Am was a major cultural icon in my youth. Interesting post.
posted by tellurian at 4:35 PM on May 3, 2010

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