Ivan Chermayeff by Emy Eriksson

Ivan Chermayeff

“Finding relationships is what graphic design is all about.”

–Ivan Chermayeff [1]

Ivan Chermayeff was born 1932 in London, England. He is the son of an architect named Serge Ivan Chermayeff who moves to the United States in the 1940s and stayed there his whole life.

Ivan Chermayeff studied at Harvard University, the Institute of Design in Chicago, and graduated from Yale University, School of art and architecture. [2]

He is a designer of what is called “the New York School” which was a style that was inspired by immigrants coming to the United States during the 1940s looking for a different political climate then what was occurring in Europe at this time.

European design was structured and theoretical a very strict way of design with a lot of rules, the designers of the new York school was more impulsive and free in their way of designing, it was about a more direct approach to information and space and how to communicate with people as direct as possible.

After his studies at Yale Chermayeff went off to New York and started working for Alvin Lustig, one of the great masters during this time, later on he went over to CBS designing record covers.

There were three designers called Ivan Chermayeff, Robert Brownjohn and Tom Geismar that started their own firm. Chermayeff and Geismar met during their studies at Yale when they both discovered their interest in typefaces and design. Their firm was started in 1957 in New York City and it was called Brownjohn, Chermayeff and Geismar. Brownjohn left the company after a short time period and the name of the company became, as we know it today, Chermayeff & Geismar.

Ivan Chermayeff, The wisdom of the heart by Henry miller, 1959.

Ivan Chermayeff, cover for Henry Miller, 1959.

In this image Henry Millers title becomes visual by Chermayeffs way of illustrating it with a mix of graphics and photography.

What made their design firm important and different at this time was that they had another approach to their job and what a designer actually was meant to do, ” they called their firm a “design office” instead of an “art studio” which reflected their attitudes toward design and the design process.” [3] Their way of looking at design is that it is a problem-solving principle, there is always many different ways of solving a problem, some are better then others but there is always a wide range at looking at things. The idea behind this “design office” was to work collaboratively and in a bigger area of art.

Both Chermayeff and Geismar have a great understanding for European modern art, which shines through in their work with a strong sense of form, texture, colour, and type forms characterized their work.

Around 1960s Chermayeff & Geismar started designing abstract logos for companys, and since then they have created over 100 such brand logos, for example Pan Am, Mobil Oil, PBS, Chase Bank, Barneys New York, The Museum of Modern art, and many more.

In today’s society we all have different connotations with different shapes and colours, for example red is hot, blue is cold and so on, and this is something that Chermayeff have been working with a lot in his designs.

“We try to do something that is memorable for a symbol,” Tom Geismar notes, “something that has some barb to it that will make it stick in your mind, make it different from the others, perhaps unique. And we want to make it attractive, pleasant and appropriate. The challenge is to combine all those things into something simple.” [4]


Between the wars, poster for a Mobil-sponsored television series

Chermayeff Works in a lot of different areas, something that is important for his design, he is a great graphic designer but as well he is an artist and chermayeff and geismar have been doing different installations and exhibitions together.


Tiles of the Oceans, Aquaria de Lisbon, Portugal. Architects: Chermayeff, Sologub & Poole.

Chermayeff says that it is important as a designer to take time for your own work to stay focused and in balance, he creates collages, his personal art as soon as he gets time.

Bibliography:

  1. C. Ray Smith. “Ivan Chermayeff and Thomas Geismar”. AIGA. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/medalist-ivanchermayeffandtomgeismar (7 may 2010)
  2. Chermayeff & Geismar. “Ivan Chermayeff”. Chermayeff & Geismar http://www.cgstudionyc.com/contact-info (5 may 2010)
  3. Wikipedia. “Chermayeff & Gerismar”. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chermayeff_&_Geismar ( 5 may 2010)
  4. ivan chermayeff, interview with one half of the graphic design duo chermayeff&geismar, designboom http://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/chermayeff.html (6 may 2010)
  5. Findlay, Peter. “Ivan Chermayeff”. http://www.findlay.com/pages/Chermayeff.htm (7 may 2010)
  6. “Ivan Chermayeff”. Success secrets of the graphic design superstars. http://willsherwood.com/?p=42 (4 may 2010)
  7. Metropolismag. “A half century of sollutions”. Metropolismag.com http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20080125/a-half-century-of-solutions (5 may 2010)
  8. Meggs, Philip. History of Graphic Design. Wiley, 4 edition ,December 7, 2005.

Footnotes:

[1] C. Ray Smith. “Ivan Chermayeff and Thomas Geismar”. AIGA. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/medalist-ivanchermayeffandtomgeismar (7 may 2010)

[2] Chermayeff & Geismar. “Ivan Chermayeff”. Chermayeff & Geismar http://www.cgstudionyc.com/contact-info (5 may 2010)

[3] Meggs, Philip. History of Graphic Design. Wiley, 4 edition ,December 7, 2005. (The New York school, p.358 paragraph 1)

[4] C. Ray Smith. “Ivan Chermayeff and Thomas Geismar”. AIGA. http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/medalist-ivanchermayeffandtomgeismar (7 may 2010)

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