5 PAUL RAND 1914-1996

American graphic designer who created the IBM identity in the Fifties, defining how hi-tech companies should look in the second half of the 20th century.

WHO: American graphic designer who created the IBM identity in the Fifties, defining how hi-tech companies should look in the second half of the 20th century.

WHAT: Rand’s body of innovative work made him a prominent member of the New York School, an elite group including Saul Bass, Henry Wolf, Robert Brownjohn and Lou Dorfsman who changed the face of American graphics in the Fifties. He began his career as an editorial designer on such titles as Esquire and Apparel Arts, and then worked with legendary advertising figure Bill Bernbach at the Weintraub group between 1941 and 1954.

WHERE: Although Rand worked in New York, his visual identities for US multinationals such as IBM and Westinghouse appeared in cities all over the world.

WHY: Unusually for a graphic designer, Rand was preoccupied with the intellectual roots and meanings of his work. He knew Klee and Kandinsky personally and developed ways to use his strong understanding of modern and particularly Cubist art in commercial design. He is widely recognised as pioneering signs and symbols in modern communication.

ICONS: The 1950 film poster No Way Out. The 1960 Westinghouse logo. The 1956 IBM logo; when presented, an IBM executive quipped: ‘It reminds me of the Georgia chain gang.’

INFLUENCE: When Rand’s Thoughts on Design was published in 1946, it was a giant influence on an entire generation of post-war designers. He was also an inspiration to his peers, especially Saul Bass who would make many people’s top ten designer list.

ODDBALL: When Rand, who never suffered fools, gave a lecture to a British Design and Art Direction audience shortly before he died, he insisted that his work be viewed in silence without any commentary from him or anyone else.

SOUNDBITE: ‘Design is both a verb and a noun. It is the beginning as well as the end, the process and product of imagination’ – Paul Rand.

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