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The many trademarks of Chermayeff and Geismar
May 10, 2014

The many trademarks of Chermayeff and Geismar

Chermayeff and Geismar published a spiral-bound portfolio of their trademarks in 1979, a precursor to the 2000 volume TM, published by Princeton Architectural Press.

It’s fairly rare—WorldCat lists it only in three libraries. In the preface, C&G explain their philosophy about trademarks and their process of arriving at the designs:

Therefore each design, while simple in form, is the culmination of a complex process we believe in. That process can be outlined as: —listening objectively to the problem as described by the client; —reviewing and evaluating that description against past performances and future intentions; —defining an attitude or direction from which design development can begin; —creating a series of design possibilities, continually sifting out the merely fashionable; —presenting a proposed design by demonstrating its effectiveness within the context in which it will eventually appear; —developing guidelines and specifications for implementation; —helping to establish police protection against pressures, both external and internal, that tend to diminish effectiveness.

They conclude that, having gone through these steps, they seek to create images that will be “succinct, memorable, and elegant in either conception or visualization, or if feasible, both.” In their typically spare, verging on severe style, pages are kept to the essentials: a clean, large reproduction of the symbol against a white background and left pages often with examples of implementation. A terse caption gives the client and their industry or specific project. (Captions below are taken directly from the book, with added punctuation.)

Color photo of a red spiral notebook on a wooden table.

Chermayeff and Geismar Associates. Trademarks, 1979.

The first page of an open notebook on a table; an elaborate signature in blue ink is visible.


This volume was among a collection of books owned by Henry Wolf donated to the Archive.

Spread; right page contains a red, white and blue graphic of a star, left page is the same graphic tiled in black and white

American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. Official Symbol of the United States Bicentennial, 1976.

Spread; right page is a black and white graphic of a letter T in a circle, left page a black and white photo of the graphic as a sign in an outdoors setting

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Public transportation system, Boston metropolitan area.

I believe this was from a project completed while Chermayeff and Geismar were principals at Cambridge Seven Associates. It appears to be derived from the logo for the public transit system in Stockholm, and is responsible for Bostonians calling their subway “the T.”

Spread of two graphics; left is a white letter S with a stylized bird in the negative space against a black background; right is a design of orange snake against a white background.

Key Sabinal. Resort development, Cuba. Clay Adams, Inc. Division of Becton, Dickinson and Company, hospital supplies.

Spread of two graphics; left is a white grid of square, each square has text graphics, against black background; right is teal text reading Adage in a blocky, curly font, reading "adage" against a white background

Adage, Inc. Computer graphic display systems.

Spread; right is a orange graphic reading BEST, with the letters getting gradually larger, against a white background. left is a black and white photo, of the same graphic as a design on a storefront, against a black background.

Best Products Company, Inc. Catalog merchandise.

Spread; right is a colorful letter K made up of a brown, yellow, and red dot grid against a white background; left is a series of objects such as boxes and cups with the logo against a black background

The Krystal Company. Fast-food restaurant.

Spread; right is a diagonal graphic reading "A&S', it's made of many tiny lines; left is a black and white application of the logo on various boxes against a black background

Abraham & Strauss. Department stores, New York metropolitan area.

Spread; right is an orange collection of geometric shapes that form the number "50" against a white background; left is a yellow shopping bag with the same logo against a black background

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Fiftieth anniversary symbol.

Spread; right page is the index against a white background, the left page is empty.