The man behind some of America's most recognisable logos, Ivan Chermayeff, has died

The man behind some of America’s most recognisable logos, Ivan Chermayeff, has died

Ivan Chermayeff mightn’t have been a household name, but his work certainly was.

Born in London, the American graphic designer died on Saturday, aged 85. With a career spanning six decades, Chermayeff’s legacy varies between poster art, illustration, sculpture and collage.

It’s his logo designs, however, that people all over the world will instantly recognize. 

In 1957, Chermayeff set up a design firm alongside collaborator Tom Geismar, where they designed graphic identities for a range of governmental and commercial organizations.

Chermayeff designed now iconic logos for Showtime, HarperCollins, the Smithsonian Institution, Pan Am and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. 

Image: CGH NYC

His firm, now named Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, was behind the design of logos for Mobil, Chase Bank, NBC, National Geographic, PBS, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Museum of Modern Art, and numerous others. It’s safe to say you’ve come across their work. 

“Ivan was a brilliant designer and illustrator, with a vibrant personal style that reflected joy, intelligence and wit,” Geismar said in a statement.

“He loved surprise, large-scale objects, and the color red. For over 60 years, Ivan and I have enjoyed a partnership, to which we each brought complimentary talents, in an alliance cemented by shared values and mutual respect. Ivan’s contribution to the field of design will remain unsurpassed.”

Chermayeff and his collaborators are significantly responsible for what corporate America looks like today.

Chermayeff and his collaborators are significantly responsible for what corporate America looks like today, with simple and effective images that stand the test of time. 

“There are different answers as to what makes a good logo,” Chermayeff said in a interview at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2015. 

“They should be very simple. Appropriate for the audience. It is usually a two month process to get to that point but it should look like it took five minutes. It has to be understandable and hold its own.”

While his logo designs are famed across the globe, New Yorkers in particular will recognise Chermayeff’s massive red sculpture that sits at the front of 9 West 57th Street. His illustrations and posters have graced the pages of the New York Times and books, such as Kurt Vonnegut’s Sun Moon Star.

Image: CGH NYC

Image: cgh nyc

Image: cgh nyc

Chermayeff is survived by his four children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. 1439 2b7d%2fthumb%2f00001

December 4, 2017

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