design figures from history – Paul Rand

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

design figures from history – Paul Rand

Paul Rand (born Peretz Rosenbaum, 15th August, 1914 – 26th November, 1996) a modernist American graphic designer (advertising artist), painter, industrial designer, writer, philosopher and educator was the creator of some of the worlds best known logos including IBM, UPS, Westinghouse and Enron.

Paul Rand is a very interesting character in design history. Articulate and prolific in his writing on design, design thinking and the design industry he walked the tightrope between art and design. In his own words he states “It is no secret that the real world in which the designer functions is not the world of art, but the world of buying and selling… Unlike the salesman, however, the designer’s overriding motivation is art: art in the service of business, art that enhances the quality of life and deepens appreciation of the familiar world.”

Rand’s modernist core ideology was to take the familiar or ordinary and defamilarise it. This idea is not unique to Rand but can be seen as far back as Impressionism and Pop Art, from Cezanne apples to Duchamp’s urinal. This is pronounce in Rand’s work for manufacturer Westinghouse, (not the Westinghouse manufacturer we know today but when the company pioneered long distance and high voltage transmission of electricity) the work is playful, colourful, asymmetrical and goes against every idea of the ‘corporate look’ you expect from a large corporation. This is where the surprise lye’s and interest is created. Rand has managed to take electricity (a very familiar concept) and wrap it up in an unfamiliar aesthetic while still delivering the message.

How can this apply to our work today? The familiar in an unfamiliar context still plays out today. The woven basket hang upside down as a lamp shade, wallpaper that looks like a bookcase, oversized floor lamps in vibrant blue to name a few. Often these surprises are the most dynamic and memorable elements in a space.

To find out more and view Paul Rand’s work visit

Other pearls of wisdom from Paul Rand:“Don’t try to be original just try to be good.”
“Without aesthetics you can’t find the truth.”
“(Design) is the synthesis between form and content… A work of art is realised when form and content are indistinguishable.”
“To do things with quality.”

Hello and Welcome! Register here before making an Application.