Born in Germany in 1883, Lucian Bernhard's contribution to the development of modern design, advertising and culture in the early 20th century can be summed up in his poster design for the Priester match company. However, that piece was just the launching pad for his entire career. He designed posters, type, packaging, textiles, interiors and trademarks for a great many companies over the course of his career and his work was influential in both the United States and Europe; he emigrated from Berlin to America in 1923.
Bernhard was influential in the development of the Sachplakat, or object poster.
His advertising work amassed a client list that included Cat's Paw, Westinghouse, ExLax, Bosch, Manoli, Priester, Adler, Amoco and Grand Rapids Furniture Company. In a time when a great deal of theory was developing behind the fields of graphic design and advertising Bernhard worked almost entirely by instinct, saying “You see with your eyes, not your brain.” Although he favored classic book typefaces for setting text he developed a number of display typefaces, often keeping his namesake, including Bernhard Gothic, Bernhard Fashion, Lucian, Bernhard Tango and Bernhard Brushscript.
Bernhard favored the use of stark colors and modern design aesthetics that often times showed only the product and its name.