A.M. Cassandre was a typeface designer based in France during the 1920’s up until the late 1940’s. Cassandre was initially a poster designer but also branched out into typography design and they were used in the travel and tourism sector. The posters were classed as machine age. They had a distinctive style that was influenced by modern art. The posters were designed so they always focused on the journey rather than the destination.
Cassandre’s typeface used on the SS Normandie advertisement it was clean, simple and bold with some decoration. This due to the slight French twist on the design. This modern typeface was used in an attempt to capture the ships new streamlined shape and its modern technology. The new typeface was meant to change the perspective that the public had of ocean liners.
During this period there was an importance in maintaining national identity due to the rising popularity of the European international style. There was a focus on retaining the national identity of the French, while attempting to compete with other European cruise companies.
The poster was considered a promotional tool within the industrial revolution. The aim was to create new markets using their transport system, as there was the rising competition from Italy, Germany and England.
Due to the economic depression at the time the French company, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, which was a private business, had to take a loan via the government. It was important for the government to help out failing ocean liner companies as investing in a countries infrastructure was one of the main ways to help push for an economic boost. Travel and movement was linked with better economy. Many of the shipping companies during the early part of the decade were working at a loss of profit. Even though there was a depression through out Europe the cruise liner industry was extremely popular with the middle classes.
The 1930’s were an era of two extremes both of economic growth as well as recession and depression. During the time in which the economy was good many shipping companies began to create their fleet of liners. Many of these fleets were becoming popular household names as well as national identities for their countries; these identities were to reinforce the countries image of power and capital. The interest in traveling was increasing whether the trip was for vacation, business or migration to another country.
European emigration was popular in the 1920’s due to the promise of a new life and job opportunities in America that Europe did not have. America was the popular emigration location up until 1923 when the immigration restriction act was enforced. Larges amounts of people going to the United States meant problems for the government. By creating restrictions on who could enter and stay within the country meant that they could monitor the movement of people. With US Boarder Control in place criminal acts of smuggling rose. Smuggling of restricted goods as well as people who were desperate to start a new life in America.
Technological advancements during the early 1930’s meant that the speed of ships increased dramatically. Steam ships ran by coal were not much faster than ships ran by sail power. Many steam powered ships would run out of fuel while traveling which made many tourists nervous about there long trips. This lack of speed made journeys by boat unappealing compared to the modern railway systems that were fast and reliable. By using oil as fuel the speed of the ship increased and the crewmembers needed to maintain the ship while traveling decreased allowing the companies overheads to be reduced. Speed and size was key to being the best in competing ocean liners.
The technological advancements in steam, electrical power and machinery meant that the SS Normandie was once of the fastest and largest liners. It held more passengers and was able to reach destinations sooner. The speed changed the perception of traveling between Europe and North America from being one of a long hauled tiresome journey to a trip that was quick and relaxing. The world was getting smaller, countries were becoming closer together due to the speed of transport getting quicker.
Closer countries meant that the process of globalization was happening a lot faster. By people being able to move quicker meant that traditions, ideas and information could also move quicker. Culture and artistic styles moved from one place to another rapidly. This movement of people is what allowed the international style to become so popular as it replicated the idea of there being no obvious cultural or style.
As well as technological development, the design of ships also altered. Wartime ships were boxy and geometric where as the new turbo powered ships had an aerodynamic and sleek appearance. This new engineering towards the shape of the boat allowed the speed of the boat to increase further. The speeds of the new ships were one of their predominant selling points. This would be a new market for France and other countries by sending Europeans to America, in luxury and comfort.
Along with speed as a marketing focus, the interior and the sleeping arrangements for the travelers were created with the intention of luxury. Ships began being used in the travel and tourism market. By creating lavish cabins and dining halls helped passengers forget the distance in which they were travelling. Travelling was also part of the holiday, where as previous to this holidays only started once at the destination. This idea of importance of the journey was echoed in Cassandre’s posters.
Luxury was not for everyone. Few could afford first class cabins however tourism within the second class was popular. Ships like the SS Normandie become unpopular due to the large amount of space dedicated to those in first class. There was less consideration and space allocated for those in second class. The ship was associated with travel for only the rich and famous.
The social divide within ocean liners was similar to that across all transport systems. Many rival companies to the SS Normandie saw this and focused their efforts on creating more comfortable second class travel. With this popularity of trips aboard the liners had to stick to strict schedules. Once the ship was at its destination it would have to drop off its travelers, refuel and then return to its original dock.