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Gastrotypographicalassemblage reconstructed at the Culinary Institute of America

Gastrotypographicalassemblage, Lou Dorfsman’s 1966 mural design for the CBS New York headquarters cafeteria, has been restored and permanently installed at the Culinary Institute of America’s Marriott Pavilion and Conference Center in Hyde Park, NY.

When word spread in the 1990s of the mural’s last-minute rescue from the garbage, saving the typographic wall sculpture became a cause for design preservationists. Designer Nicholas Fasciano, who helped salvage the nine panels, stored them in his home for 23 years, and the Center for Design Study in Atlanta helped alert the world of the mural’s survival and championed its restoration. In 2008 the Culinary Institute of America agreed to fund restoration and install the work on its campus.

Gastrotypographicalassemblage embodies design and art movements popular in New York in the 1960s. Three-dimensional words about food, in various typefaces and lettering styles, interlock with wry sculptures of everyday delicacies, such as bagels, a sandwich, and canned food, and the whole is suggestive of the work of artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana, as well as the Push Pin enthusiasm for eccentric nineteenth-century type. The compartmentalization of the wooden words and letters also reflects a minor fad in the 1960s and ’70s for wood type and obsolete type cases. Dorfsman himself recounts that inspiration for the wall grew out of a birthday gift he made for CBS president Frank Stanton that was a collection of wood type, metal type, and CBS memorabilia nestled into the compartments of a type case.

Congratulations and thanks to all those who helped save this unusual and important piece of typographic history.