Paul Rand is generally perceived to have been the first professional designer. He was not considered to be just a commercial artist, an ad man or a failed painter. He was in at the beginning of something when he founded his own New York studio in 1935, the development of design consultancy.
He was very broad in the way he went about solving problems, unlike the likes of Josef Mller-Brockmann and Abram Games, who had a specific style. Painting, typography, photography, collage and montage were all in Rand’s vocabulary.
Though sometimes cantankerous, he was a dedicated teacher and helped us all get going. For example, he gave me my first freelance work in the US for IBM.
It’s been wrongly said that Rand invented the logo, but he certainly brought a quality to logotypes. He didn’t do anything crude; there was elegance in everything. He was perhaps the first to have the attitude that the visual quality of the logo is important – he treated it like a sculpture or drawing.
Along with George Nelson, Rand was probably the most coherent writer on design – for a designer. He was thoughtful, considerate and clear. The sad thing is that for all his talent and work for the likes of IBM and Apple, he probably has not been heard of by many of the young generation of UK designers.