Old School, Retro Graphic Design: Washer and Dryer Manuals from the 60s, 70s

Our 7-year old water heater died a few days ago. I found it just before the last of its warm fluids reached beyond the laundry room. A sad event requiring clean-up, cost, and a day without a warm shower. Yes, it could have been worse.

1070s graphic designWhile rooting through our cabinet of appliance warranties and instructional manuals – you know, the ones you put away and never look at until a crisis arises – I came across the manuals from both the washer and dryer that were here when I bought the house some 20+ years ago. Based on some notes, the dryer is from the mid 70s. The washer appears a bit older; unfortunately there’s no record of the purchase date or serial number so I can’t ascertain the specific time frame.

They just don’t make them like they used to – that is, in the equipment, or the design of the communications.

70s graphic design styleThe original manuals were still here when we purchased the house – thanks to fastidious previous owners – and I kept them ever since. Soiled as they are, they are just too cool to get rid of. I love everything about them: the original line-art sketches, the copywriting, the fonts combinations, and the simplicity.

The design style of the GE pieces were less bold, not as “mod” as the Whirlpool pieces. That leads me to believe the GE pieces are from an earlier time period.

These pieces capture a mindset of a time. Looking at them now, they are pretty funny. Checkout the skinny-waisted Barbie-style shape of the woman caressing her newly washed, soft clothing, wearing her dress and apron. So Donna Reed Show-like. And yes, Mad Men.

60s graphic design styleThey remind us that, as designers, we have so many other graphic options and techniques.

Most importantly, they remind us that design and content are for the audience; it reflects what they are expecting, what they want to see.

So I had to share this little piece of consumer information and retro graphic design history…pieces from my permanent collection of old school design inspiration and ideas. Enjoy!


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