Paul Rand

Paul Rand (* 15 August 1914 in New York, USA as Perutz Rosenbaum; † 26 November 1996 in Norwalk, Connecticut, USA) was a well-known US graphic designer, most famous for his corporate logos.

Paul Rand is one of the most famous American graphic designers, born Peretz Rosenbaum on August 15, 1914 in New York and died on November 26, 1996 in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was responsible for many corporate logos, posters and children's books.

His artistic career in New York included Pratt Institute from 1929 to 1932, Parsons The New School for Design in 1932-1933 and the Art Students League of New York in 1933-1934.

He was the main American promoter of the "Swiss style", commonly known as the international typographic style or international style, without applying all its codes and dogmas.

Paul Rand
Paul Rand

He was educated at Pratt Institute (1929-1932), Parsons School of Design (1932-1933) and the Art Students League of New York (1933-1934).

1935-1941 he was art director of Esquire and Apparel Arts magazines (which was later renamed GQ: Gentlemen's Quarterly). From 1956-1969 and again from 1974, he taught design at Yale University.


Paul Rand was born in 1914, at the beginning of the First World War, in the Brooklyn area of New York. Born into a religiously inclined Jewish family, Paul Rand showed a particular interest in drawing from an early age. His first models were the comic books and celebrities of the time.

His taste for design was further developed through evening classes at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the Art Students League of New York, as well as through his reading of foreign design and graphic arts magazines such as Gebrauchsgraphik and Commercial Art, which introduced him to the ins and outs of modern art: Cassandra, Fernand Léger, Theo van Doesburg, etc., all of whom were European at the time.

Paul Rand's first job was with the George Switzer Agency, an industrial design and advertising firm. He designed fonts and packaging for major brands such as Squibb and Hormel.

Paul Rand opened his design studio in 1935, at the age of 21. A few months later, he was approached by the Esquire-Coronet office, which offered him a position as art director. Not yet ready, he waited until the following year to accept a second offer as the magazine's fashion editor.

Rand's large-scale productions earned him the title of "outstanding personality" in 1938. This led to his being spotted and commissioned to design the covers of several issues of Direction, a progressive arts and culture magazine. He was not paid for this work, but was given complete freedom. He produced these covers from 1938 to 1941.

In 1941, he became art director at the advertising agency that William Weintraub, his former partner at Esquire-Coronet, had just created. He also produced numerous magazine inserts for the pharmaceutical company Smith Klein & French and Orbach department stores.

"In order to make its mark, an advertisement must break the mould by using a particular device: the abstract symbol, but taking care, however, if it is too obscure, to correct it with universally identifiable forms."

Rand's work in the 1930s modernised American advertising design. Little considered until then, the work of advertising design was reconsidered as a work by Paul Rand. Indeed, the whole process (headline, image, layout) requires a particular aesthetic vision and deserves to be signed according to him.

He wrote his first book, Thoughts On Design, at the age of 32. In it he comments on his many illustrations, as well as some of his friends'. His analysis, both functionalist (function creates form) and personal, reveals many issues hitherto ignored in the advertising world, such as the place of humour, the reader or the symbol. Despite the many other important texts of the time (such as Jan Tschichold's The New Typography or W. A. Dwiggins' Layout Advertising in 1928), Thoughts On Design became a bible for the next generation of graphic designers.

During the 1940s, he worked extensively on covers and layouts in publishing. It was by challenging the norms of the time (elaborate, calligraphically charged covers), that he managed to gain the appreciation of some like Thomas Mann and Nicholas Monsarrat. But his bold typography and simplicity as a poster designer also earned him some bad artistic reviews, especially from the layout artists of the time, who considered his work

"merely graphic, and not concerned with the story and the author's intention" (quote from Dwiggins).

Advertising and publishing figured prominently in Rand's professional career, but what really made his name was his work in corporate communications. In 1956 he was hired by Elliot Noyés as a visual communications consultant for IBM. He joined a larger team consisting of Eero Saarinen for architecture and Charles and Ray Eames for set and interior design. Together, they worked to rethink IBM's overall brand image.

Rand redesigned the IBM logo, which remained unchanged until today, and deployed his graphic work on all of the firm's communication media (stationery, brochures, packaging, posters and building signage). It is one of the first examples of a global corporate identity.1

Paul Rand went on to work on a series of corporate logos, including Westinghouse Electric (1961), United Parcel Service (1961), ABC (1962) and Cummins Engine (1979), as well as NeXT and Ford. Today, only the UPS logo is no longer in use. This would have annoyed Paul Rand, who hated 'change for change's sake'.

He ended his career as a graphic arts teacher at Yale University in Connecticut, while continuing to lecture. He recorded his 'lessons' in three memoirs: Paul Rand: a designer's art (1985), Design form and chaos (1994) and From Lascaux to Brooklyn (1996).

Paul Rand died on 25 November 1996. No one knew about his illness and his death surprised everyone. A few months earlier, he had distinguished himself in front of a full house at the National Design Museum in New York. He had also just signed on to teach at MIT in Boston. On the day he died, he was working on a new logo.

Logo Design

He designed logos for companies such as ABC, Cummins Engine, Enron, IBM, IDEO, NeXT and Westinghouse. He also designed the original UPS logo, which was used from 1961 to 2003.

For IBM, he not only designed the logo that has been used since 1972, but also the well-known colourful variation Eye-Bee-M (Eye-Bee-M).

ABC Logo
ABC Logo
Enron Logo
Enron Logo
IBM Logo
IBM Logo
UPS Logo
UPS Logo
Westinghouse Logo
Westinghouse Logo

Expositions En 2007, le 18e Festival international de l'affiche et du graphisme de Chaumont lui a consacré une exposition monographique2.


  • This…Is the Stafford Stallion (1944)
  • Thoughts on Design (1947)
  • Trademark Design (1951)
  • I Know a Lot of Things (1956)
  • Sparkle and Spin (1957)
  • The Trademarks of Paul Rand — A Selection (1960)
  • Little 1 (1962)
  • Listen! Listen! (1970)
  • A Paul Rand Miscellany (1984)
  • A Designer’s Art (1985)
  • Good Design is Good Will (1987)
  • Some Thoughts Some Logos (1991)
  • From Cassandre to Chaos (1992)
  • Failure by Design (1993)
  • Design Form and Chaos (1993)
  • From Lascaux to Brooklyn (1996)


  • Catalogue du « Chaumont Festival 2007 » publié à l'occasion du 18e Festival international de l'affiche et du graphisme de Chaumont de (Haute-Marne).
  • Paul Rand, Collection : Inspiration and Process in Architecture, Éditeur Princeton Architectural Press, 2019


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-22.