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Michael Bierut

The Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman


 
Lou Dorfsman and his “Gastrotypographicalassemblage” in the CBS cafeteria, 1966

Working as an in-house designer for a big corporation doesn't sound glamorous, and staying in the same place for more than 40 years doesn't sound like a path to career success. But Lou Dorfsman, who joined the Columbia Broadcasting System in 1946 and rose to become its vice president and creative director for advertising and design until his retirement in 1991, may have had the best job in the American design industry. 
Over the course of his career, Dorfsman was responsible for everything at CBS from its advertising to the paper cups in its cafeteria. Every bit of it was executed with intelligence, verve, glamour and taste. Trying to get good work done from inside a giant institution is supposed to be hard. How did Lou Dorfsman make it look so easy?


When I learned the sad news last week that Dorfsman had died at the age of 90, I pulled a book down from my shelf that I've referred through now and then through the years: Dorfsman & CBS: A 40-Year Commitment to Excellence in Advertising and Design. Flipping through its 216 pages, I was struck once more by the range and timelessness of the work illustrated inside. And I found an interesting passage, where authors Marian Muller and Dick Hess describe "the do-it-yourself education of Lou Dorfsman," which began shortly after he joined the company as advertising assistant to the legendary Bill Golden, creator of the CBS Eye logo.
It turned out after all that, while working as Golden's assistant, Lou had learned an extremely important lesson about the origin of ads. He had observed that while he and Golden were sitting in their shirtsleeves scaling photos and cutting type apart, certain ivy-leaguers in three-piece suits were sitting upstairs in conferences making decisions about the very projects he and Golden were producing. It was obvious to Lou that he could do a more intelligent and meaningful job if he were "up there" where the problems were being discussed. 
So this is how he did it. Here are the four lessons of Lou Dorfsman.
Lesson 1: Mind the client's business.
Dorfsman began his career at CBS at the age of 28, working side-by-side with Bill Golden, his hero and mentor. After a few years, with the rise of the new medium of television, the corporation divided itself into separate units, the CBS Television Network and the CBS Radio Network. Golden took charge of advertising and design for television, the up-and-coming, exciting part. Dorfsman was made art director of the radio unit, the company's "orphan child."
Dorfsman ignored the gloom and doom surrounding the seemingly-fading medium of radio and threw himself into meetings with the radio division's sales reps, understanding its wide range of audiences, not just the listening public, but advertisers, affiliates, government agencies. Dorfsman produced hundreds and hundreds of unglamorous small space print ads. Almost every one is an ingenious gem. Many feature beautiful illustrations, including a 1952 ad that marked Andy Warhol's first commercial appearance in print. All of them unflinchingly and entertainingly make the case for CBS Radio. When Golden died unexpectedly at the age of 48 in 1952, Dorfsman was promoted to creative director of CBS television. Five years later, he was named head design director of the entire Columbia Broadcasting System.
Lesson 2: Learn to identify opportunities.
Through his career at CBS, Dorfsman never sat around passively waiting for requests from his internal clients. Instead, he pushed them, inventing projects that he thought needed to be done. Taking pictures at National Football League games in New York to promote CBS's local sports coverage, it occurred to him that there was a bigger story: documenting the technological feat of broadcasting multiple games each Sunday all over the country. The result was "Field of Vision," a 12 by 12 inch, 132 page book that reproduced, in gorgeous black-and-white rotogravure, photographs of each of the seven football games televised across the United States on the afternoon of November 4, 1962. The book emphasized the prowess of CBS's sports division, made a much-sought-after gift for football fans, and was credited with helping to secure the network's exclusive contract to cover NFL games the following year.
A few years later, Dorfsman topped that feat with a hardcover book commemorating CBS's coverage of the 1969 moon landing. 168 pages long, "10:56:20 PM, 7/20/69" featured a spectacular blind-embossed-with-moon-craters dustjacket and a subtitle ("The historic conquest of the moon as reported to the American people by CBS News over the CBS Television Network") that made clear Dorfsman's goal: to associate CBS inextricably with the  grand events that defined the nation. Today, both books are collectors' items; neither would exist at all except for Lou Dorfsman's initiative.
Lesson 3: Assume responsibility.
You can tell that Dorfsman identified passionately with his employer's success. He valorized every one of CBS's shows as if they were separate clients, each with individual importance. It's fascinating: to my eyes, each ad appears to have been done from scratch, with its own unique look and feel; the only consistent element is excellence. 
Dorfsman didn't hesitate to be an advocate for programs he cared about. He is credited with saving "The Waltons," a well-reviewed but low-rated show in the early 70s, by conceiving a single ad with the headline "This program is so beautiful it has to die" that exhorted viewers to support it. It ran once in three newspapers. Quoting Dorfsman & CBS: "According to Lou, the ad changed his life. He was never really certain how to measure the effectiveness of advertising. Now he had concrete results. CBS was inundated with letters and petitions bearing  thousands of signatures. 'The Waltons' remained on the air and by the end of the season was the number-one CBS show."
Dorfsman, who began his career as an exhibit designer for the 1939 New York World's Fair, never limited his ambitions to print and broadcast. He designed the CBS news booths at presidential nominating conventions starting in 1964, and created some of the first modern "news sets" for daily broadcasts the following year. Dorfsman didn't worry about his job description. He just did what needed to be done. 
Lesson 4: Define the company's character.
In 1965, CBS moved into a new headquarters building on Sixth Avenue, a black granite skyscraper designed by Eero Saarinen. Quickly nicknamed "Black Rock," the tower was conceived as a defining symbol for the company by its leaders — and Dorfsman's main patrons — CBS chairman William Paley and president Frank Stanton. Dorfsman understood that this new home was an opportunity to emphasize the company's commitment to excellence. So he contributed to the design of every detail, from the barricades that surrounded the site while the structure was under construction, to the art on the walls in the hallways, to the signage in the lobbies, to the freshly printed letterheads and business cards that greeted the CBS staff the day they moved in. 
In contrast to the eclectic approach Dorfsman took to the design of the network's outward-facing advertising and promotional material, the graphic standards at headquarters were almost obsessively rigorous. Dorfsman commissioned two new fonts from Freeman Craw, CBS Didot and CBS Sans, and these were deployed everywhere throughout the building, including door numbers, elevator buttons, and wall clocks, 80 of which had to be dismantled and reassembled with new faces installed. Dorfsman's typographic eclecticism reemerged in his career tour de force, his solution for a 40-foot-long blank wall in the corporate cafeteria. There he collaborated with his longtime friend Herb Lubalin to create an all-type, three-dimensional collage combining words related to food and culinary paraphernalia into a relief sculpture that was dubbed the "Gastrotypographicalassemblage." A combination of enthusiastic excess and clinical precision, the wall was hailed as Dorfsman's ultimate achievement. But I must confess, I am just as impressed — if not more — by the fact that he convinced the NYC safety authorities to allow him to use the elegant (and definitely non-code compliant) CBS Didot font for the building's fire exit signs.

There is no one today — anywhere — that can match the breadth and depth of design authority Lou Dorfsman exercised in his years at CBS. Certainly there is no one like him there today. He retired from the company in 1991. The building was renovated shortly thereafter and new tenants moved in to join CBS. The Gastrotypographicalassemblage was dismantled and put into storage, where it has been slowly decaying. The good news: there is a movement afoot to restore it led by the ambitious team at the The Center for Design Study, who are actively seeking financial support.

A few years ago, we had an appointment at a midtown address that was new to me, 51 West 52nd Street. When the taxi pulled up, I said to my colleagues, "Hey, this is the CBS Building!" And it was. I had never been inside. We were there to see one of the new tenants, not CBS. But the bronze signs in the elevator lobby were still set in CBS Didot. They looked worn but they were as beautiful as ever, forty years later. Rest in peace, Lou Dorfsman. You will be missed. 


Posted in: Branding, Graphic Design, Obituaries, Reputations, TV + Radio

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Comments [24]
I only met Mr Dorfsman once. It was on the street here in NY about 10 years ago. I introduced myself to him and he said "You know who I am?" I told him that he was one of the reasons I wanted to become a designer. He replied "No, I'm just some old guy that no one knows any more..." I told him that wasn't true and that anyone who loved design knew who he was and that his place in history was assured, he thanked me and told me he was off to the NY Art Directors Club "to have lunch with a bunch of other old guys no one knows anymore..."

He WAS the consummate designer, elegant, smart, tough and brilliant. I'm grateful I had that brief moment with him.
Eric Baker
10.27.08
10:44

Thank you for an elegant, wonderful and fitting tribute to a design legend. These are great lessons.

For anyone interested, Armchair Media designed a web site to celebrate the life of Lou Dorfsman. Anyone can post thoughts, moments or stories. I hope that everyone will take a second to celebrate his legacy.
Jim Schachterle
10.27.08
10:54

Where can I get a copy of "Field of Vision?"
John Mindiola III
10.27.08
12:34

I met Lou Dorfsman during the coda of his career, when he came to The Museum of Broadcasting. What an elan he had! He was larger than life in so many ways: irreverent, pugnacious, discerning, brilliant. His understanding of good design had an overwhelming authenticity to it. He had been everywhere and done everything, and there was a steady stream of young designers at his door looking for advice and a job. He was very generous with his time and tried to offer both when he could. Rest in peace.
M.A.Peel
10.27.08
02:05

Michael, thank you for this warmly sensitive, insightful, and poignant farewell tribute to a most noble General, one who’s legacy we all shall forever honor.
Richard Anwyl
10.27.08
04:09

what a great article. I've always known that he did the logo. Didn't know he spent an entire career at CBS. That's some commitment. Now that I've read this, I feel sad. There are only so many great historic figures left in design. People who truly shaped the way we work everyday. Thanks for the insight into a life well lived.
ian shimkoviak
10.27.08
04:58

It's stories like these that help us all identify our common heritage in design, much appreciated. One must wonder, with all the information we have access to these days, is it easier to "stay current" and contemporary, and even easier to forget the past? Maybe better said, is it easier to think one is current and contemporary, without knowing all that has gone before - especially when it, or names such as these, are "lost" to contemporary search engines?

Thanks for filling in more of our common history.
Erik Brandt
10.27.08
10:20

When I was a design student at Cooper Union in the 1980’s, my classmates and I would often see Lou Dorfsman at the school’s art openings. He was like a “god” to us and yet he was one of our own. Last Tuesday, during national Design week, I took my design students to the NY Times and design director Khoi Vinh led us on a special tour of the new headquarters. As a highlight, Khoi introduced us to Tom Bodkin, the assistant managing editor in charge of design. Tom had worked with Lou Dorfsman at CBS and said that he spoke at The Cooper Union’s tribute to Lou Dorfsman (A’39) held at the French Culinary Institute on September 25th. So when reading your post today— I looked it up. That event raised more than $100,000 for the new Cooper Union academic building. When combined with a $1.0 million contribution from legendary CBS president Frank Stanton in honor of Lou and his wife Ann (A’39), the funding will name the Dorfsman Design Studio in the new building. Thank you Tom and Khoi for following in Lou’s footsteps and spending time with young designers . . . and thank you Michael for writing this post. www.cooper.edu/administration/alumni/images/features_dorfsman.pdf
Carl W. Smith
10.27.08
11:12

Thanks so much for this article. Even as a kid in the 50s and 60s I associated CBS with quality and a high standard. When I was 12 my Dad got hold of and gave me this beautiful CBS calendar book. It had beautiful, loose behind the scenes pencil drawings at CBS. I remember the feel of the cover. What an early design moment... It was easy to link that book with a CBS style and character. Years later did I realize that all of this was Lou Dorfsman's work. I had the great pleasure of having dinner with him once in St. Louis. It was a memorable night for me. His enthusiasm for and pleasure in the work was self evident.
Rick Landesberg
10.28.08
06:28

Michael,
Thank you for the nice tribute you wrote about Lou D. He was truly one of our great icons in the graphic design world. I worked for Lou at CBS from 1980 – 1984 and it was one of the best experiences a young designers can have. One of my favorite quotes by Lou, "there's no such thing as boring design projects, just boring designers."

I remember the first time I met Lou when I was being interviewed for a design position in his department. I had dropped off my portfolio through the recommendation of an ex-CBS designer, Jim, who had worked for Lou. I was still working at McCall’s Magazine at the time but I was looking for a new job change. When Jim mentioned CBS, I hesitated because I had shown my book four years earlier at CBS and I didn’t get the job. Plus I had no corporate design work in my book, just magazine and various editorial works with some logo and stationery stuff…that’s it. But I figured I had nothing to lose and I knew it was a long shot to think they would be interested in me this time. I dropped my book off at CBS during my lunch break and later that day, I received a phone call from Ted Andresakes (the supervising art director) at CBS and he said Lou wants to meet me…that evening! So right after work I headed up to Black Rock…I got there at 5:30, but Lou was in a meeting and I waited out side his office for about 20 minutes and then his secretary said Lou will see me now…I went into his office and my eyes quickly scanned the domain of Lou D. and I will never forget what I saw…Lou had a big corner office with a nice view looking West, but his desk and floor had piles and piles of paper, folders, and books, they reminded me of “Dagwood sandwiches” of paper at various heights…Even his long couch had more piles of stuff, TV storyboards, infamous CBS ads in frames and mounted CBS posters and more books and magazines and several portfolio cases leaning against the couch and against the walls of his office…even his walls and closet doors were wallpapered with posters, pictures, and drawings…yes it was cluttered and a fire hazard too boot. But there was a chair next to his desk that was the only clear spot and that’s where I sat for my job interview with the great Lou D…As he was telling me about his department, I noticed almost every other word was the “f” word and the word smuck was thrown in for good measure. But the were profanity was used in an almost endearing way. So he said to me with a smile, “so, do you want to “f**k around here?” I said “yes” and I was hired. I walked out of CBS amazed and perplexed to what had just happened, I was hired by Lou D...28 years later, I am still grateful for the experience and opportunity to had worked for Lou and CBS. Thanks Lou and you will be missed.

Jack Tom
10.28.08
11:19

Thank you, Michael, for a warmly insightful look at our man Lou. He will indeed leave a significant mark on the design community.
Daniel Pipitone
10.28.08
11:23

About 8 years ago I put an article about branding on my Web site (now being redesigned and renamed.

www.daddydesktop.com/ArticleBranding.html

Go down about 3 page clicks down to the subhead on the left, "Then they do one thing wrong and ruin it all.
Again." And you will see my paean to Lou Dorfsman and what he accomplished.

I hope those of you interested in Lou will enjoy it. Love to hear any corrections or refinements as well.
Larry Miller
10.31.08
12:15

Few things can bring me out of Sabbatical from blogging.

The Passing of SUPER LOU DORFSMAN is one of them.
Without question, LOU DORFSMAN was The Most Powerful Creative Director in the History of Visual Communication. Bar None.

Everything has already been said about LOU DORFSMAN that needed to be said in reference to his Design Career.

Except LOU DORFSMAN came from an era of Design where Designers Really, Really, Really, Really knew how to Design. There was theory and rationale supported by their Design.

Designers of Dorfsman's era that made it to the Upper Echelon of Visual Communication were Visionaries, Original, Intelligent, Conceptualist, Experimentalist, Pragmatist, and Hands On. All possessed the ability to Imagineer.

They rolled up their sleeves.

They DID NOT make it up as they went along.

Not like today where anything Passes for Design.
And lend credence to Andy Warhol's saying about Art.

Design is not anything you can get away with.

I'd like to touch base on other things the general public may not know about SUPER LOU.

LOU DORFSMAN was the last of the MUSKETEERS as they were called forming a Lifetime Friendship with HERB LUBALIN and SAUL BASS.

The three of them did everything together, attending conferences, national and international, vacationed together whenever time allowed.

Most important, neither of them would be interviewed without the publication featuring an article on one of the others.

This can be witnessed in many articles published throughout the years in Print, Communication Arts, Graphis, other noted publications.

Most recently in Yusaku Kamekura's Creation Magazine where SAUL BASS was Featured with Cover.

Bass insisted Lubalin and Dorfsman be featured as well.

See Creation No 18.

The same in Graphis 235 and in Professor Virginia Smith's publication Artograph, many others.

There is a Panel within the Gastrotypgraphicalassemblage
that says BASS.

Both Herb and Lou incorporated the name not only for the cafeteria offering of fish. It was implemented for love and Lifetime Friendship with Saul Bass.

That kind of Camaraderie just doesn't exist today.

The mindset today is every man/woman for themselves.

After retirement from CBS Lou Dorfsman was offered a Partnership with Saul Bass on two separate occasions.

The new consultancy was named Bass Yager Dorfsman.
Saul Bass was to be the West Coast Creative Director and Lou Dorfsman was to be the East Coast Creative Director
Herb Yager Managing Partner would shuttle between the West Coast and East Coast.

As Saul Bass noted Lou was SMART he backed out twice at last the last minute.

MILTON GLASER offered Lou Dorfsman a Partnership after his retirement. For whatever reason Lou back out at the last minute. Legend has it Glaser was SMART because he never offered Lou another Partnership.

Lesson learned, perhaps not working together with Lifetime Friends saved some friendships.

Memory serving me correctly, both Lou and Herb Lubalin after graduating from Cooper Union were married together and/or within the same year. A short period of time lived together forming a Partnership to work on Design Projects.

Lou and Herb also formed a band, one played drums the other guitar or a wind instrument. Every evening they would get together and play with other band members.

One of my prized possessions in my Identity Archive is an Original CBS Radio Promotion Ad circa 1950s Designed by Lou Dorfsman.

It is an Ad of a young Designer (Lou Dorfsman, with Buzz Cut) photo taken from the back sitting in his office at his Drawing Table. On his Designer utility table is a
Radio apparently Lou was listening to CBS Radio.

The ad is one I pulled out many times within 30 yrs for inspiration imagining what were the CBS Projects Dorfsman was working on. What was on his mind. Other than CBS Corporate who were the clients he needed to satisfy.

I imagined myself sitting at that Drawing Table working for CBS, Dr Frank Stanton and William Golden.

The other prized possession is Lou Dorfsman speaking at a Celebration of Life Service for Saul Bass on DVD given to a few trusted individuals who will not resell them or upload on You Tube. Everything is not for public consumption.

One only had to witness Lou Dorfsman's aura and dignity.
The way he walked, command of speech captivating the audience with magnificent story telling capability.

Legendary Type Designer Ed Benguiatwrote in a personal email to my friend, mentor, former and former CBS Designer Larry Miller which was routed to me.

"As far as I'm concerned they'll need Madison Square Garden to have a memorial service for Lou".


Truer words were never spoken. To that I say, Lou Dorfsman was the Spirit and Embodiment of Corporate Design Worldwide.

No Designer in 26 Lifetimes will ever have the Power of Lou Dorfsman in Corporate Design.

Lou Dorfsman was sOo Bad and Powerful, they named New York twice.

DesignMaven

The hostile takeover of Corporate Identity




DesignMaven
11.01.08
05:59

It seems only fitting that there should be a memorial service at the Great Hall of Cooper Union for Lou Dorfsman, A’39 Trustee Emeritus. Cooper Builds
Carl W. Smith
11.02.08
06:15

Remember when you were introduced to a designer you never knew existed, but then could never forgot? So many of us have that powerful moment. Mine was seeing a retrospective of Lou Dorfsman's work at ITC, (I believe in the late 70's) while I was still a design student. I'll never forget that show. The power of his work has been in my memory ever since. Thanks for the life long inspiration Lou.
Sara Tack
11.08.08
12:14





A Remembrance of Lou Dorfsman

by Arnold Schwartzman

It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Lou Dorfsman at age 90, one of the last creative giants of the 20th century.

New York in the mid 60s was a most exciting time for design and advertising, so in the spring of '66 I decided to make my first visit to the United States. There I had the pleasure of meeting many of my design heroes, included Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser and Herb Lubalin. As I had been working in British television for the previous seven years I decided to pay a visit to CBS TV, and met Mort Rubinstein, who was one of the network's design directors and was familiar with my work from the pages of Graphis. "Have you met Lou Dorfsman yet?" he enquired. "No, but I would love to meet him, but as I am not looking for a job in television I don't want to take up his time." He picked up the phone: "Lou, I have this Limey here, you got to see his work." "Can he come to see me tomorrow morning at 9:30?"

On my arrival at the network's new "Black Rock" building, Lou Dorfsman's secretary ushered me into the CBS Director of Design's large corner office. The great man was seated watching the Gemini space launch on two small TV monitors clamped to the edge of his desk. With a telephone to his ear he greeted me with a broad smile, then reached for my portfolio while his eyes were firmly fixed on the television event. He would turn the pages of my portfolio in between observing the missile as it disappeared into the blue beyond. Finally he turned to me: "When can you start?"

I repeated what I had told his colleague the previous day, that I was not seeking a job in television and was only in New York on a short visit. "What's your problem?" he responded in his distinct Lower East Side accent, "I'm offering you good money, a Manhattan office and a free telephone!"

How could I refuse! Within a New York minute I was shown to a work-space with a great view of 6th Avenue 25 floors below, and almost immediately a production manager slapped a design brief on my drawing board. It was to produce a full-page ad for the Jackie Gleason Show to be placed in the New York Times.


Lou Dorfsman in his CBS office, surrounded by artwork, 1970s.
Photo by Arnold Schwartzman


One evening while working late, Lou came over to me to wish me goodnight. "What's that you're eating?" he asked, staring at the large bun on my desk. "It's a hamburger." I replied. "Isn't it cold?" he asked. "Yes it is rather tough" I responded. "Tough? It looks frozen. Where did you get it?" "Down at the automat on the 20th floor" I replied, blushing with embarrassment over what was obviously a faux pas.

Lou led me to the elevator and took me down to the scene of my misdemeanor. He asked me to re-enact my purchase of the hamburger by placing two quarters into the machine. "Now, what did you do next?" he asked. "I got the elevator back up to your floor." "I thought so" he replied, as he opened a small door set into the wall of the cafeteria and placed the bun inside the space, closed the door and then pressed a button. In another New York minute out came my hamburger steaming hot! This was this gringo's introduction to the New World's invention known as the microwave oven!

Despite his protestation the time came to tell Lou that I must return to the U.K., giving him a half promise that I would return one day.

For the next few years we would see each other socially, and when I was elected a member of AGI in 1974 I had the pleasure of seeing Lou and his wife Ann at our congresses. One day during the 1977 assembly in Venice, Italy, Isolde and I were visiting a small Renaissance church on the island of Torcello, where out of curiosity I stepped into a confessional box and drew the curtain. As I came out who should be passing by but Lou Dorfsman. "What the heck is a nice Jewish boy like you doing in there?" he exclaimed. Quick as a flash I replied, "I confessed that I trace the work of Milton Glaser!" I have been told that on the occasions that Lou introduced Milton at his speaking engagements he would tell a much embroidered version of the confession story.

During the 1980s I received a letter from Lou proposing that we produce a documentary, filming along the Amazon river, accompanied by our wives. He was quite serious, however the venture never came to fruition.

I believe the last time we saw each other was on what he termed the "Roach Coach" traveling back to Manhattan from the AGI Congress in upstate New York.

During a visit to New York in April of this year Isolde and I popped in to see Bob Gill. I asked him if he knew how Dorfsman was doing. Almost echoing Mort Rubinstein's actions over 40 years ago Bob picked up his telephone and dialed a number. "I have a Limey here who wants to speak to you." "Who's that?" the voice enquired. "It's Arnold Schwartzman." "You do great work, You do great work!" was his immediate response. Although we spoke only for a few minutes, I was so touched by his words that I planned to write him a long letter on my return to LA. I now much regret that I never got around to it.

Dorfsman did great work, I only traced!

Lou, thank you, Good Night, and Good Luck.








arnold Schwartzman
11.10.08
11:56

Thank you, Michael and all others, for such cherished observations about my father. Because I don't have your home addresses, please accept this as my invitation to you all to the Memorial in his honor on Monday, March 16, at The Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7th Street at Third Avenue, 6 to 8 p.m.
Elissa Dorfsman
01.25.09
08:53

Again, thank you to all of you with such endearing comments. In my last communique I neglected to mention that those of you who are interested should go to the following website:
www.karma411.com/campaign/savelouswall -- where you can see three film clips starring Lou. One is about how he got the idea for the CBS cafeteria wall; one is about How a Corporate Logo (the eye) is Born and a lengthier piece, after he was retired, is an interview about his earliest days at CBS -- in radio -- when all the advertisers were fleeing like lemmings to this new-fangled thing called TV. The pieces are very "Lou" as a raconteur and very instructive -- and mirror's this article by Michael Bierut in Lou's own words! Also, the site is a non-profit fundraiser for restoring the wall, now in progress. I have taken a page from Obama's fundraising methods: we don't care whether devotees send five dollars. Don't be intimidated by the larger gifts. Remember how much the new Pres raised, $5 and $10 at a time or how school children raised pennies to erect France's gift to us of the Statue of Liberty! Everyone has been as generous with their pennies and nickles as they have with their million-dollar praise and respect. Thank you all! Hope to see you at the memorial. Elissa.
Elissa Dorfsman
01.28.09
12:55

Just about the time I was winding up my four year term in the Air Force's Tactical Air Command, my suite-mate at Pope AFB, handed me a copy of "Graphis" or "Print" (don't recall exactly), and touted the doings of Lou Dorfsman.

I had always loved the Columbia Broadcasting System's product and output, and vowed I would someday work there, or in some capacity for the company.

As fortune would have it, nine years later, after completing studies at Syracuse, MIT and Columbia, then preparatory stints at Ideal Toy and Parker Brothers, I got a call to run the Product Concept & Development function for Creative Playthings, then a fledgling division of CBS, and the "darling" division in the eye of Mrs. William Paley, Babe.

I was truly blessed with long grueling hours, and much appreciation for the efforts expended, and loved every moment, as I built the department into a thriving, innovative, creative function.

This Design effort brought me to the attention of Lou Dorfsman, who, in concert with my boss, Creative Playthings president Seymour Gartenberg, were instrumental in my early, youthful ascendancy to Vice President, with full access to anyone at "Black Rock".

Lou invited me in, and immediately I sensed a kindred spirit. He was a man riding on his own deserved cloud, and the more he could do, the more he wanted to do.

He was the consummate design-empire-builder, (how delicious) the "Arch-Conceptor", sitting in a small office with a drawing table as his desk, exuding boundless enthusiasm, and an infectious laugh. I loved him instantly, and at the age of 32, wanted to become just like him.

When I heard of his passing, I became maudlin and close to tears, for I knew that such a corporate opportunity for others to shine so individually was rare, and in this day of musical chairs, it may not provide others the grace to stay in one place and contribute their best, over several decades.

Yes CBS has changed, and gone is the much touted "Tiffany Network" of the golden seventies, but we all do have our treasured memories of Lou, and so many other specially endowed, and inimitable creatives.

It was the highlight of my career, and no other subsequent experience and community of people has come close.

Sleep well, "unforgetable" Mr. Dorfsman, you've earned your well-deserved rest, by for many, your presence was not long enough.

Mattiene-Arienne Moustakas
Vice President
CBS Toys Division
1973-77
Mattiene-Arienne Moustakas
04.01.09
12:00

thank's for the focus :-) bests | peter
peter gabor
07.19.09
12:28

The comments on here are just as good as Michael's article. RIP Lou.
eismontdesigns
10.18.13
04:15

"there's no such thing as boring design projects, just boring designers."

fuck yes.

thanks for this article Michael.
graham wood
10.19.13
10:40

“It’s not just the visible work, but the thinking behind it that is the beginning of the creative process. Creativity is essentially a lonely art, an even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing; to others a curse. It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.” –Lou Dorfsman

In Memory of Louis Dorfsman (A '39)

We still miss Lou, 5 years and counting . . .
Thank you Michael Bierut for the Four Lessons of Lou Dorfsman.
Carl W. Smith
10.21.13
10:07

Lou Dorfsmand was responsible for everything at CBS from its advertising to the paper cups in its cafeteria. "Every bit of it was executed with intelligence, verve, glamour and taste. " His work was timeless. He had 4 lessons and he taught them well.joc
Carmen Thigy
10.26.13
09:19



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