Fondazione Pirelli


Noorda Design. Style and creativity in Pirelli

“When I first came to Italy, industrial firms were still hiring illustrators and artists for their advertising. We were among those who introduced modern graphic design and the concept of a coordinated company image, which is a blend of architectural and interior design, graphic design and advertising,” said Bob Noorda, born in the Netherlands in 1927, as he reflected on his arrival in Milan in the early 1950s. 

His rationalist background (his professors were all part of the Bauhaus school) and his quest for structured, well ordered solutions were just part of what enabled Noorda to establish himself quite quickly. The entrepreneurial ferment of 1950s Milan made for fertile ground in which graphic designers were able to organize their advertising work with a markedly project-based approach, enabling them to communicate their message clearly and make the graphic-design aspect stand out by eliminating the superfluous. Clean lines in perfect harmony with the rest of the context fully expressed the concept of a “coordinated project” that was of such great importance within the graphic-design community at that time.

Pirelli hired Noorda for an impressive number of jobs and appointed him to the position of art director in 1961. His works include the “Cinturato” poster of 1959 of the wheel leaning to the right and his ad campaigns for the “N+R” and “Rolle” tyres.

Noorda has a keen ability to expand space and open up to colour. His lines become fluid and his bold blacks fade gently into various shades of grey. His adverts have been called “soft” because of the way in which he created a sense of lightness, such as in the ad for the “Palla dei campioni” (ball of champions). In other cases, such as in his advert for belts for threshers, the graphics multiply in a manner that stretches both time and space, giving the image a sense of movement. 

The exhibit “L’Umanesimo Industriale di Pirelli” (Pirelli’s Industrial Humanism) being organized by the Pirelli Foundation will, until 20 February 2013, feature several of Bob Noorda’s adverts, catalogues and sketches from the 1950s and ‘60s.

Bob Noorda, Advertisement for the "Cinturato" tyre, 1959