Paul Rand (Born Peretz Rosenbaum 1914 – 1996), was one of the most influential and prolific graphic designers of the 20th-Century and is known primarily for his logo designs for corporations such as NeXT Computer, ABC and IBM. He earned his education first from the Pratt Institute (1929 – 1932), then the Parsons School of Design (1932 – 1933) and lastly the Art Students League (1933 – 1934). He was also one of the originators and practitioner of the Swiss style of graphic design, which favoured objectivity, simplicity and the all important functionality.
Rand’s career as a graphic designer began with creating stock images for newspaper articles and magazines to add interest to the text filled spreads. During class time, whilst being highly influenced by the German advertising style known as Sachplakat, as well as the work of Gustav Jensen he eventually gathered enough work to produce a large portfolio. Notably though he was widely known for his work with corporate identity, his earlier work was more geared towards page design. An occasion where his page design skills are recognised was when he designed the December, 1940 cover art for Direction magazine. The cover art was a glimpse into Rand’s avant-garde artistic sensibilities and also his signature attention to design simplicity.
Eventually he immersed himself into the world of corporate identity and none is more well known than his 1956, logo design for the company IBM. Along with this logo he also designed the packaging such as the iconic Eye-Bee-M poster and the striped and present logo of 1972. He worked for the majority of his professional life based on his own philosophy that design should not have to flamboyant and assertive in order to attract attention. No other identity he designed portrayed this ideal better than the 1962 American Broadcasting Company logo, which was simply a black circle, with the letters “abc” at its centre. He employed the use of collage, photography, artwork and a unique use of typefaces to captivate his audience. Every viewer approached Rand’s appealing yet unconventional and also interactive designs which were indicative of a person who really loved what they were doing. Rand loved design so much even that he worked on them until the day of his death at the age of 82.
I personally believe that the biggest contribution Paul Rand made to my course of study as well as the path I shall follow post-graduation is in the realm of design-led business. Due to the way he pioneered simplicity in design specifically and producing one artwork in such a way that it can have a multiplicity of applications.
Paul Rand’s Artwork
Direction Magazine cover (1940), Paul Rand
Eye-Bee-M poster (1981), Paul Rand
Paul Rand Inspired Artwork
Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Max Huber inspired Illustration, Olimpia Zagnoli
Paul Rand Inspired Poster, Meredith McGee