Spotlight: Ivan Chermayeff

Ivan Chermayeff, known for his graphic work and enduring logo identities is one of the premier designers of modern design.


Partner of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, a design firm which helped pave the way into the more modern sleeker corporate logos we see today, Ivan Chermayeff played a pivotal role in how logo identities are communicated.


For the first half of the previous century, logos where busy, more literal, and all in all, a little bit messy. But by communicating identities through more abstracted means, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv made logo identities faster, simpler, and more iconic as a result, proving more long lasting and evocative.


“A logo should be clean, crisp and instantly comprehensible.”

“It is usually a two-month process to get to that point, but it should look like it took five minutes.”

— Ivan Chermayeff


What I think is interesting about Ivan Chermayeff is that his design inputs are totally recognisable but at the same time does not scream a style that can only be applied to a handful of applications or specific vernaculars.


This, I believe, comes from Ivan’s prolific collages. “I have many many collages. I do them almost every day. I work on them in between my office work. I have quite a few. Several hundred.” This was Ivan’s more personal approach to art which has obviously bled into his corporate design work, more evidently from his poster work to even the use of bold block colours of the logos he’s worked on.






Ivan Chermayeff (1932 – 2017) was one of America’s most celebrated graphic designers, who, with many others, played a huge role in the evolution of the modern-day corporate identity while instilling a style that is identifiable as his own.


My personal favourite piece is this poster for Nights at the American Museum of Natural History…



I adore the sense of wonder and discovery. The gentle moon in the dark night-blue sky activating the upper third, the bright blue-green of the merging dinosaurs illuminating the black window pane separating them from the viewer. It all adds up to evoke that child-like sense of wonder to something amazing and almost secretive. The important part for me is the tail wrapping and coming outside; inviting you in to explore and discover; allowing the viewer to feel more appropriately part of it and not simply a stranger looking in.



Discover more about Ivan Chermayeff’s design work here:


See more of Ivan Chermayeff’s collage work here: