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63a Montagu Square, London W1

Posted by David Sames on

A while back I was very fortunate to purchase this postcard from Modernsim101, which announces the news that Alan Fletcher was moving to a new studio located at 63a Montagu Square, London W1. With a postmark dated July 1959 the postcard ties into Alan's return to London from working overseas in New York and Italy during the late 1950’s, and briefly predates his first formal creative partnership with Colin Forbes (Fletcher/Forbes, 1959–62).

Putting aside the charm and simplicity of the postcard (a signature of Alan’s work for his life to come), I was left intrigued to find out more about Montagu Square, and the recipient of the postcard Gene Federico of 'Douglas D. Simon Agency'.

Following a little investigation I found a piece of text written by Mike Dempsey that points to Alan renting a desk space in the basement Colin Forbes flat – so can only conclude that 63a Montagu Square is indeed that location, and from where Alan and Colin would soon start formally working together and set in motion the earliest incarnation of Pentagram.

According to Mike Dempsey the exhilarating time Alan spent working in New York was a stark contrast to the grey and depressing London he returned to – where he goes on to state "There was little design work to be had. The industry was still termed ‘commercial art’ and what good stuff there was went to the established guard of the day: Milner Grey, Henrion, Misha Black, Abram Games et al.”.

Facing such a challenge Alan leaned on the connections that he had made in New York to secure consultancy work – whom Gene Federico (American graphic designer and advertising executive) was likely one of these contacts, and for who he may have freelanced for at some point early in his career.

As for Douglas D. Simon Agency, they were an advertising agency located at 280 Madison Avenue in New York who Gene was vice-president and art director for around the time.

And as for 63a Montagu Square, it’s fascinating to think that the basement in this unassuming building in W1 London was home to what becomes one of the most respected and if not most famous design studios in the world - Pentagram!


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