Paul Rand by Steve Noort


Even after his death in 1996, Paul Rand remains one of the most famous graphic designers in the world. He was born Peretz Rosenbaum, on August 15th, 1914, in New York (but later “rebranded” himself Paul Rand). Rand is renowned for his corporate logo designs and was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design. An obituary of his life can be found here.


Rand was a versatile designer whose career can be divided into three periods. From 1937–1941, he worked in media promotion and book design; from 1941–1954, he focused more on advertising design; and from 1954 on, he began to concentrate on corporate identity programs, producing some of the most iconic logos and identity marks of the modern age including logos for IBM, Westinghouse, UPS, and ABC television.


Undoubtedly, the core ideology that drove Rand’s career, and hence his lasting influence, was the modernist philosophy he so revered. He celebrated the works of artists from Paul Cezanne to Jan Tschichold, and constantly attempted to draw the connections between their creative output and significant applications in graphic design. I found a quote of Rand’s that clearly shows the impact of these modernist influences.

From Impressionism to Pop Art, the commonplace and even the comic strip have become ingredients for the artist’s caldron. What Cezanne did with apples, Picasso with guitars, Leger with machines, Schwitters with rubbish, and Duchamp with urinals makes it clear that revelation does not depend upon grandiose concepts. The problem of the artist is to defamiliarize the ordinary.

This idea of “defamiliarizing the ordinary” played an important part in Rand’s design choices. Working with manufacturers provided him the challenge of utilizing his corporate identities to create “lively and original” packaging for mundane items, such as light bulbs for Westinghouse.

Below is a clip of an interview with Rand. I found it to be pretty interesting and informative to his design process.

The following are a few links I found related to Rand:
There is a really cool website that shows the work relationship between Rand and Steve Jobs here.

And lastly, More info on the design legend.




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