Paul Rand : biography
Paul Rand (August 15, 1914 – November 26, 1996) was an American graphic designer, best known for his corporate logo designs, including the logos for IBM, UPS, Enron, Westinghouse, ABC, and Steve Jobs’s NeXT. He was one of the originators of the Swiss Style of graphic design.
Rand was educated at the Pratt Institute (1929–1932), Parsons The New School for Design (1932–33), and the Art Students League (1933–1934). From 1956 to 1969, and beginning again in 1974, Rand taught design at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Rand was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1972.
Influences and other works
Development of theory
Though Rand was a recluse in his creative process, doing the vast majority of the design load despite having a large staff at varying points in his career, he was very interested in producing books of theory to illuminate his philosophies. László Moholy-Nagy may have incited Rand’s zeal for knowledge when he asked his colleague if he read art criticism at their first meeting. Rand said no, prompting Moholy-Nagy to reply "Pity." Heller elaborates on this meeting’s impact, noting that, "from that moment on, Rand devoured books by the leading philosophers on art, including Roger Fry, Alfred North Whitehead, and John Dewey." These theoreticians would have a lasting impression on Rand’s work; in a 1995 interview with Michael Kroeger discussing, among other topics, the importance of Dewey’s Art as Experience, Rand elaborates on Dewey’s appeal:
Dewey is an important source for Rand’s underlying sentiment in graphic design; on page one of Rand’s groundbreaking Thoughts on Design, the author begins drawing lines from Dewey’s philosophy to the need for "functional-aesthetic perfection" in modern art. Among the ideas Rand pushed in Thoughts on Design was the practice of creating graphic works capable of retaining recognizable quality even after being blurred or mutilated, a test Rand routinely performed on his corporate identities.
Rand’s [[Yale University Press logo that was used from the 1985 to 2009.]] During Rand’s later career, he became increasingly agitated about the rise of postmodernist theory and aesthetic in design. In 1992, Rand resigned his position at Yale in protest of the appointment of postmodern and feminist designer Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, and convinced his colleague, Armin Hofmann to do the same. In justification of his resignation, Rand penned the article Confusion and Chaos: The Seduction of Contemporary Graphic Design where he denounced the postmodern movement as "faddish and frivolous" and "harbor[ing] its own built-in boredom".
Despite the importance graphic designers place on his book Thoughts on Design, subsequent works such as From Lascaux to Brooklyn (1996), compounded accusations of Rand being "reactionary and hostile to new ideas about design." Steven Heller defends Rand’s later ideas, calling the designer "an enemy of mediocrity, a radical modernist" while Favermann considers the period one of "a reactionary, angry old man." Regardless of this dispute, Rand’s contribution to modern graphic design theory in total is widely considered intrinsic to the profession’s development.
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 Cézanne to Jan Tschichold, and constantly attempted to draw the connections between their creative output and significant applications in graphic design. In A Designer’s Art Rand clearly demonstrates his appreciation for the underlying connections:
Early life and education
Paul Rand was born on August 15, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York.Behrens, Roy R. "Paul Rand." Print, Sept–Oct. 1999: 68+ He embraced design at a very young age, painting signs for his father’s grocery store as well as for school events at P.S. 109.Heller, Steven. "Thoughts on Rand." Print, May–June 1997: 106–109+ Rand’s father did not believe art could provide his son with a sufficient livelihood, and so he required Paul to attend Manhattan’s Harren High School while taking night classes at the Pratt Institute, Rand was largely "self-taught as a designer, learning about the works of Cassandre and Moholy-Nagy from European magazines such as Gebrauchsgraphik."Bierut, Michael. "Tribute: Paul Rand 1914–1996." ID, Jan–Feb. 1997: 34