The iconic design firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv is responsible for the most iconic logos, from the NBC peacock to the Chase Bank octagon.
Logos are way with which to communicate a brand to a consumer — take for example, the NBC peacock, the Chase Bank octagon and the Pan Am globe. For people over a certain age, the images of these logos instantly comes to mind: the six multicolored feathers of the NBC peacock, the white-on-blue eight-sided Chase logo, and the curved lines that define the Pan Am globe. All of those logos were conceived of by the seminal New York design firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, which was founded 60 years ago by Yale graduates Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar in 1957. Sagi Haviv became a part of the firm in 2006, and his name was added to the firm in 2013.
For the past 60 years Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv have designed the visual identity of the United States’s biggest corporations, defining the shapes and colors with which we associate them and forming the logos that have become a recognizable part of American culture. A new 307-page tome titled Identity: Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, published by Standards Manual, traces the firm’s 60-year history.
“Our trademark designs can be seen as eclectic because they take many forms, and are expressed in many styles,” said Geismar. “But they are deliberately this way because each has been designed to provide a distinctive, memorable and appropriate visual expression of the organization it represents.”
Identity takes you through Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv’s oeuvre, showing the design process for logos that also include the red Mobil O, the Smithsonian sun, the NYU torch, and Barneys New York as well as those for the Library of Congress, Conservation International, Harvard University Press and more. Along with larger portrayals of the firm’s projects, are interviews with Chermayeff, Geismar and Haviv, as well as contributions from Alexandra Lange, John Maeda and Milton Glaser.
The Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv partners designed the book’s striking black-and-white cover, which features 30 of their most influential logos silkscreened in black ink on textured canvas.
“The cover illustrates our approach to trademark design: our primary concern is a strong, distinctive silhouette — this is what people remember,” said Haviv. “Although each trademark in this book represents a solution to a particular client’s problem, and there’s a story behind each, here they are presented simply as artwork.”