In the early 1950s, Porsche was still a very young company, and they certainly did not have the budgets enjoyed by the bigger motor manufacturers with which to splash out on expensive public relations campaigns. Well before the idea of ‘Corporate Design’ or ‘Corporate Identity’ became a household term, Erich Strenger began to build a Porsche house style that would become famous throughout the automotive and motorsport worlds.
The public face of Porsche extended to what the race department could rack up by way of victories, which was then reported in the press free-of-charge. This was Ferry Porsche’s philosophy, and a very clever one it was too, but it did rely heavily on the success of the racing department. Regular victories perhaps accounted for Porsche’s rapid rise up through the ranks of international motorsport, which in turn was responsible for the Porsche products being reliable and sporty in nature.
But soon Porsche’s victories became all-too frequent, and it became apparent that some form of structure to their public face would be beneficial. Strenger, a Stuttgart-based graphic artist, began working with Porsche as a freelancer as early as 1951, forming the foundation of a relationship that would last until 1988. During this time he created a style that was unique to Porsche, one that encompassed an outrageous, almost revolutionary graphic style that would make the name of the company stand out in any surroundings.
I have personally admired the work of Strenger in that it incoporated wild colours with convergent and divergent styles that successfully captured the mood of the decade it was portraying. As the conservative 1950s gave way to the explosive 1960s and the expressive 1970s and so on, the colours and styles followed the trends and presented the subject, be they road cars, race cars, or some coporate message, in an appropriate manner. His work was always modern, and Strenger successfully developed posters and other graphic material in a way that inspired the public.
Together with Richard von Frankenberg, Strenger developed the magazine Christophorus: the magazine for Porsche friends, which has become the voice piece of the company to this day and is translated into many different languages. Strenger had the good fortune to work with many who also saw the potential in the fine products coming out of the Stuttgart manufacturer’s plant. By all accounts, Erich Strenger had a lot of work to do, as Porsche race cars notched up victory after victory around the world, and the factory produced one excellent and exciting road car after another.
The book contains examples of Strenger’s work, and covers the posters, sales brochures, and Christophorus magazines for almost four decades. Not only did the graphic artist work in this field, but later in his life after retiring from his advertising studio in Stuttgart, he continued his creative work on the island of Majorca.
Erich Strenger was an extraordinary creative force in Porsche’s world, and it was about time that someone recorded his achievements in a book. The author, Mats Kubiak, himself a communication designer and a Porsche fan, has dealt extensively with his oeuvre and shows all the relevant work. Kubiak is not only interested in Strenger’s work on its own, but he also records facts about Strenger’s life outside of the studio.
The book may not be about Porsche’s famous race cars or its many victories, nor about the many exciting and innovative roadgoing models. But if you are a Porsche enthusiast, then this a reasonably priced, and important work, about an aspect of Porsche’s history that you don’t want to be without.
Erich Strenger and Porsche – A Graphical Report
Pages & images
186 pages and 195 images
192 x 256mm, hardcover
Written by: Glen Smale
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