Every year we’re greeted not only with 365 brand new days, but also a whole slew of calendars to keep track of them all. In the AIGA Design Archives alone, there are well over 200 entries for calendars, dating back as far as 1931 with the protractive “A Book of Days, Being a Briefcase packed for his own Pleasure by Christopher Morley & made into a Calendar for sundry Paramours of Print,” designed by Critchell Rimington.
Most fall into the more typical wall calendar category, with a few great examples from Massimo Vignelli and his Nava Calendar (1976) and Wild Places Calendar (1975), featuring, what else, Helvetica and Bodoni, respectively.
While form does indeed follow function in these cases, the most interesting calendars break form as much as possible. Several good examples come from the Container Corporation of America, beginning in 1964 and continuing right through the 1980s. Not too surprisingly, these calendars are enclosed within myriad containers, many made of plastic, others of folded card-stock.
Push Pin Studios consistently broke the mold with the calendars it published as part of its annual Push Pin Graphic series. The 1964, vertically stacked effort features portraits of figures both real and imagined, such as D.W. Griffith and Paul Bunyan. In 1977 the studio created a “Giant Pull Out Calendar Condensed” that broke the year down into fewer days, and again in 1974 Push Pin challenged our expectations in another way, by publishing the nude parody calendar, “Unusual Pin-ups.”
Push Pin wasn’t alone in its annual boundary-breaking exercise. Chermayeff and Geismar is another studio that consistently pushed expectations with calendars that folded out and into themselves. Others of note include the School of Visual Arts 2005 calendar designed by George Tscherny, as well as his 1992 sleek vertical calendar for the Sei Corporation and his earlier 1958 appointment calendar.
If you’re the kind of designer who creates your own calendar each year (hats off to you sir/madam), let these serve as organizational inspiration. And lest we take all this too seriously (not doing this is my New Year’s resolution), take a cue from Charles Spencer Anderson’s “Bonehead At A Glance Weekly Planner” (very top).
Wishing everyone a healthy and prosperous 2016.