I Know A Lot of Things, book designed by Paul Rand
and written by Ann Rand, 1956/ Private Collection


Jazzways magazine, Volume 1, 1946,
with cover design by Paul Rand/ Private Collection


Sparkle and Spin: A Book About Words, book designed by Paul Rand
and written by Ann Rand, 1957/ Private Collection


Coronet Brandy magazine advertisement, 1948/ Private Collection

Born in Brooklyn to a father who owned a small grocery store, Paul Rand rose to the heights of twentieth-century design. Born Peretz Rosenbaum, Paul Rand went on to become one of the most influential designers in the history of print, named as one of the ten best art directors by the Museum of Modern Art during the 1940s, and often called the “Picasso of graphic design.”

Rand’s singular vision of branding and logo recognition revolutionized the advertising industry. In celebration of his life’s work, The Museum of the City of New York will host Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand, a six-decade retrospective from February 25-July 19, 2015.

The exhibition is organized into six section including Early Life and Career, Transforming Madison Avenue, Books and Publications, Creating Corporate America, and Writing and Technology. Illustrated through 150 pieces of Rand’s work, the exhibition also includes his pioneering corporate communications and rebranding campaigns for IBM, and ground-breaking logos for ABC, UPS, Westinghouse, Morningstar, and Steve Job’s NeXT project.

Everything is Design is curated by Donald Albrecht, who is the City Museum's Curator of Architecture and Design and designed by Perrin Studio. Albrecht speaks with The Chic about Rand’s contributions to the art of graphic design.

Albrecht observes, “Paul Rand once said ‘the problem of the artist is to defamiliarize the ordinary’ and it’s a motto he took risks with throughout his career. For example, he would pair images of radically different scale or media, unusual color combinations, and bold typefaces with delicate hand lettering. The result would be a visually stimulating, memorable, problem-solving approach to a design.

“Rand took ideas from European high art (such as Cubism, Surrealism, and Constructivism) and adapted these ideas to the everyday American sphere during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. For example, he would use the Surrealist juxtaposition of scale of artists like Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte, and apply them to graphic design, like having a giant hand holding up an automobile.

“He elevated graphic design to an art. Like Picasso, Rand was prolific and varied. His range of visual styles and expression was remarkable. He varied the materials as well as the mediums, whether working in book design, advertising design, or corporate design. It is really remarkable the way he was able to fuse image and text into one image. He worked with unusual color schemes as well.”
Everything is Design shows Rand’sdevelopment as an artist over the years. Early Life and Career illustrates his work as art director with samples of Apparel Arts magazine covers from 1936 through 1941 and Direction magazine covers, between 1938 and 1945. This section shows how Rand’s modernist approach, especially for Direction, sought to compete with The Bauhaus—the famous German design school whose less-is-more aesthetic was spreading throughout the United States.
Transforming Madison Avenue explores Rand’s designs at the William H. Weintraub Advertising Agency during a moment of transformation in the industry in the 1940s and early 50s. Examples of Rand’s work from this period include campaigns that combined his characteristic fusion of photographs, type, and elegant line drawings including Ohrbach’s department store in New York City and Kaufmann’s department store in Pittsburgh.

Books and Publications displays Rand’s extensive work with the publishing industry. His ability to merge text and image was an ideal skill for book jacket design, and the section will present samples of his work from the Museum of Modern Art’s publications, Wittenborn & Company, and Alfred A. Knopf—for which Rand even designed a highly stylized version of its borzoi dog logo.  In subsequent decades, Rand went on to interpret, in striking visualizations, art movements such as Dada, as well as the writings of Henry James, Thomas Mann, and Alfred Camus.

As Albrecht observes, “Rand did not make routine illustrations of the topic for his book cover designs. Instead, the covers are suggestive, arresting, and alluring looking”—which is the ideal way to grab a reader’s attention and to draw them in. Albrecht notes the cover of the Henry James book has a photograph of the author in profile, which is then repeated in unexpected colors. That was quite a contrast as James was considered a dark writer.”

The exhibition also includes Creating Corporate America , depicting Rand’s extensive work for American business, which began with a massive rebranding campaign around IBM’s entry into electronic computing in 1956. Rand developed a comprehensive visual communications strategy—highly unusual at the time--that used the same IBM logo across various platforms, from advertising to packaging, stationary, and even architectural signage. The section will display before and after images of IBM’s logo and its use, as well as examples of corporate work that followed, including: UPS, ABC, Westinghouse, and Morningstar.

Albrecht observes that the relationship between Rand and IIBM was mutually beneficial. He notes, “Everyone who was ordained as a saint at the Museum of Modern Art was involved in the corporate rebranding of IBM. MoMA had anointed these designers and IBM hired them. It was a fusion of art and commerce, as IBM was tapping into high art and high culture.

“I wouldn’t call Paul Rand chic. Dorothy Draper was chic. Babe Paley was chic. I would modify the word to apply it to Paul Rand and call it cool chic. Cool chic has an edginess. It is not sentimental. It is bold, graphic, and appealing to a lot of people. It’s not fussy, or about style itself. The image and text come together into one bold idea.”

Artwork courtesy of The Museum of the City of New York 
Curated by Miss Rosen 

Idea: International Advertising Art magazine, Volume 2, 1955,
with cover design by Paul Rand/ Private Collection


Brochure for IBM carbon paper, designed by Paul Rand


Idea: International Advertising Art magazine, Volume 2, 1955,
with cover design by Paul Rand/ Private Collection


Data Processing Center in IBM's headquarters at 590 Madison Avenue,
IBM logo and graphic identity designed by Paul Rand


Reception area at IBM facility in Rochester Minnesota,
designed by Eero Saarinen & Associates