defamiliarize the ordinary


The NEXT logo designed by Rand for Steve Jobs. Rands terms for his jobs: you get 1 design and it costs $100,000.

He brought POWER
to art directors.
to art directors.
to design.
He brought HUMOR
to design.
He took an inanimate object and made it into a living, breathing CHARACTER.
He convinced people that DESIGN was a business asset.
He said always deal
with the TOP guy.
“If you don’t know who Paul Rand is you’re screwed.”  John Stossel 20/20


left to right: Steven Heller, George Lois, Jessica Helfand, Michael Bierut, Danny Lewandowski, Chris Pullman. Copyright Peter Mauss.

March 19th at Museum of the City of New York, Michael Beirut, Jessica Helfand, Danny Lewandowski, George Lois, Chris Pullman and Steven Heller talked about Paul Rand. Each of the presenters was asked to pick one piece to talk about from the current exhibition, “Everything is Design:  The work of Paul Rand.”

Paul Rand's studio

Paul Rand’s studio

Chris Pullman knew Rand when they were both teachers at Yale. Pullman choose this photograph of Rand’s studio, instead of a Rand design. Object by object, Pullman dissected the photograph. Filled with whimsical objects representing Rand’s wide-range of cultural interests, the studio looked more like that of a painter than a graphic designer.

Jessica Helfand took a different tack.  She was a student of Rands’ at Yale.  As she went through the show, she choose the colorforms logo.  “It was a trip down memory lane.  It rocked my world when I was a kid.”  Helfand was able to quote many “rand-isms,”  the one I liked the most, “When You don’t know what to do, let geometry solve the problem.”


colorforms logo designed by Rand

George Lois, 84, a colleague of Rands, was the most irreverent of the panel.  Lois described a luncheon,  Rand was honoree, one of countless awards he received during the course of his career.  Everyone in the audience stood up and the applause seemed to last forever.  Lois leaned over to Rand to see if he was moved by adulation.  Rand turned to Lois, “Everyone in this room is an asshole, except you and me.”

We like our heroes to be likable.  Rand was no such thing.  He had a reputation for being gruff and scary.  Helfand was the only person on the panel, who spoke of Rand in a personal way. She attributed his temperament to losing his identical twin brother at the age of 26 and the fact that his family cast him aside for divorcing his first wife and subsequently marrying a non-Jew.  When asked whether there could ever be another Rand, Helfand answered, “She’s out there.”

Everything is Design
the work of Paul Rand
February 24 – July 19, 2015
Museum of the City of New York 
Branding:  Why Good Design is Good Business
April 29 at 6:30 pm
You Can Tell A Book By Its Cover
June 1 at 6:30pm
Design as Discipline
From the Drafting Table to the Academy
June 15 at 6:30 pm




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