We all have seen the designs of Paul Rand at some stage of our lives. He had a career spanning nearly seven decades. There is the seminal logo for IBM and the logo for ABC. There is the Westinghouse logo, the logo for NeXT computers. There are posters and packaging, book covers, record covers and a multitude of magazine covers.
Rand was said to hate academia, but he was an influential professor at Yale University since 1956.
…is much more than to simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify to dramatise, to persuade and perhaps even amuse. To design is to transform prose into poetry
To design he writes, “is much more than to simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit: it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify to dramatise, to persuade and perhaps even amuse. To design is to transform prose into poetry.”(from Principles of User Interface Design)
Rand had a prolific graphic design portfolio, and it spanned more than a half a century. His work symbolised the modernist design ethic of the postwar era. In the 1930’s when American commercial art and advertising was dominated by in your face copy and realistic illustrations. Rand introduced the avant-garde art movements to visual communication and publishing.
He had the ability to combine art and design and still distill the essence of a company or a product and discover the essence of a brand. A talent gave a brand an instantly recognisable identity to consumers. They were imbued with a distinctive wit and logic yet entirely devoid of personal indulgences.
His notion of visual identity placed the viewer in a more active role. The viewer’s curiosity stimulated the viewer himself must complete the meaning of the message.
He used photography and montage, cut paper and asymmetrical typography. He did not avoid complexity. However, his ideas were often, “distilled to their most salient form.”
His poster design for the film, “No Way Out” was a nod to the 1950’s style cubist works. He was one of the few American designers to follow the modernist traditions of Cubism and the Bauhaus and was influential in working with the New Typography. He moved away from the thought of the sentimental type and layout treatment of the 1930’s.
Rand was of the opinion that good design does not date, but the bad design does.
Rand often signed his design work. The reason he always insisted on signing his work was that he did not want to be subordinate to anyone.
The El Producto line of cigars was a classic example of his tasteful packaging. This campaign was designed for the 50th anniversary of Fathers day in 1960. They illustrate that Dad was the centre of the family, affection and attention.
The Schenley label, Rand used the arbitrary typographic elements. The label did not look too austere by the utilisation of the marbled paper for the background.
Paul Rand despite the commercial pressures, and the ebbs and flows of the field he was able to transform it for thousands of designers. He never faltered, never changed, never questioned the rightness of his mission. He more than any designer gave the design industry a credibility as an essential tool for communication.