Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bernard Kesselring, designer of our memories

Bernard Kesselring was born in Auvernier (Neuchâtel) in 1934. He grew up in Switzerland and France and studied at the Agricultural School of Bordeaux, in France, leaving after graduation for a sojourn in Scandinavia, working as a lumberjack and miner. That surely does not fit with what he did next: he enrolled at the Zurich college of Applied Arts, where he studied graphic, industrial and interior design, getting a bachelor in design. He then launched into a career in design, working as a freelancer in Zurich, mostly around industrial and graphic design but also doing lots of exhibition design. He also did a bit of modelling, as his looks were a magnet for photographers and got cast in many ads.

From a photo session for an advertisement, Bernard Kesselring is the man standing at the back looking at us. Mad Men art director would have a field day with this photo!

From an advertising photo session.

Bernard as a drummer

In 1963 he arrived in Athens, working for various advertising agencies such as Kousentos and Delta Delta Dimou. He also dabbled in interior design, collaborating with architect George Vallatas. In 1967 he became Creative Director of the advertising department of detergent and soap manufacture F. Steinfels A.G., in Zurich. There he was responsible for new product development, its packaging design, everything that had to do with the marketing, advertising campaigns and television advertisement production for Steinfels products. He created Bio (from bio-degradable, bio-friendly), the little guy you see above (in b&w) and below (in 3D colour), to advertise their products, as well as Softy (Bio's wife and the face of a fabric softener), another cartoon character.

After a stint as Creative Director with the Norman, Craig & Kummel Advertising Agency in Zurich, and some years as freelancer, he returned to Athens, first working as the Creative Director of Olympic-Euro advertising agency, then setting up his own company, Swissdesign and later Swissad. He designed some of the most memorable logos of my childhood, logos that we kept seeing everyday in front of us, either on household products or in print and TV advertisements: Ouzo 12 (which became an international Greek brand identity - the logo was used as he designed it for 30 years, but they recently changed the font, using a dreadful serif one), AVA dish-washing liquid, ELCO-Vagionis, Varanghis, Miss Pat, Balco/Orca, Molokotos yarns, ROLI detergent packaging and others. He also devised the ROL detergent slogan: "Greece loves white. Greece loves ROL" which was a mainstay of their ad campaigns for years, as was his other successful slogan, for PRODERM products: "tender care and Proderm" which still defines a generation in Greece and is used in Greek slang to denote tenderness either in earnest or in irony.

The AVA logo is still used as he designed it, ingenious idea to put the liquid drop at the middle of the letter V

In the early 80s he became associate Creative Director at Ikon/BBDO Advertising in Athens, then started working as a freelance designer. He later moved to Crete, where he still works as a designer, builds hand-made wooden furniture and renovates traditional stone-built houses. I consider myself really lucky to have as a friend his wonderful and very talented daughter Eva, who turned me on to this stuff and gave me the opportunity to present them to you. It made me relive part of my childhood - happy memories indeed. Thank you Mr. Kesselring.

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