Paul Rand. Simplicity is not the goal

Interview with Paul Rand conducted by Miggs Burroughs. He talks about his iconic logos for IBM, UPS, ABC, WestinghouseNeXT, and about his relationship with Steve Jobs.

Filmed for the TV show “Miggs B. on TV” in Connecticut, 1991. Not the wittiest of conversations, but it contains some useful insights though.

In a discussion on Under Consideration/Speak Up, June 2003, the question was posed:

“Do you think Rand is that great? Does he deserve the iconic position bestowed upon him by every aspiring graphic designer? It seems to be an unspoken condition that if you’re a graphic designer, then you should consider Paul Rand to be a great one. […] a lot of people consider Rand and his work to be untouchable. But why? Is it really that self-evident?”

The answer to these questions by moderator Armin Vit came down to: He’s not the best of designers, but he’s a great communicator. And that’s in branding an essential asset:

“Talking bad about Rand is probably the biggest taboo in graphic design. From the beginning you are taught that he is Graphic Design, and I think that’s OK, if there is somebody to aspire to it’s him. But… in my opinion he is not the best Graphic Designer ever, he is one of the best communicators, but in terms of design development he is nowhere close to Saul Bass, Glaser or Kalman. Yet, he can communicate a message, a feeling, a brand promise better than anybody. I hate his logos for Enron, Westinghouse and Next (even if Steve Jobs wanted to kiss him after his presentation.)

His IBM logo is one of my favorites, but it’s really not that good-looking. Rand is able to create memorable icons with more personality than the whole UPS executives put together.

He has it. What is it? Not sure, something that has to do with charisma, wit, passion, talent, cleverness, chutzpah and balls.”