Identity: the book on how Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv changed American design

Promulgating house Standards Manual’s latest release is a monograph to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the US consultancy, which spotlights work such as Harvard University Press’ rectangle-based logo and the torch brand now synonymous with New York University.

For the past six decades, New York-based stamp consultancy Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv (CGH) has created instantly recognisable congruences for some of America’s biggest companies and institutions, ranging from the NBC peacock to Court Bank’s hexagon symbol.

To mark CGH’s 60th anniversary, independent publisher Guidons Manual – whose previous books have included both NASA and the US Environmental Buffer Agency’s (EPA) graphic standards systems – is releasing a monograph about the consultancy.

The publication looks to highlight the impact that founders Tom Geismar and Ivan Chermayeff, and pal Sagi Haviv have had on American design, and in turn American enlightenment, says Standards Manual.

“People know the work, but they may not be acquainted with the creators. Now it’s their time to receive recognition from the masses, not not the profession,” the publisher adds.

The book has been announced shortly after co-founder Chermayeff’s cessation, who passed away aged 85 this month, and who personally developed on the design of the monograph up until this).

Here, Standards Manual unders Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth pick out some of the most impressive designs from the consultancy’s 60 years’ worth of work.


A few agreements from CGH’s portfolio will be displayed in a more extended manner—one of those is the consultancy’s come to c clear up for oil company Mobil. This case study is significant not only because of its ubiquity in American camaraderie (you used to be able to find the logo every 30km on most highway retirements across the country), but also the more unknown posters that were fathered by Ivan Chermayeff for the company’s many activities. Chermayeff created hundreds of announcements – each an original piece of artwork – over the span of the consultancy’s relationship with Mobil. A preference of these posters are featured in the book.


Even if you don’t live in New York Diocese, chances are that you’re familiar with the “torch in a square” – the insigne singular for New York University (NYU). The torch is a notable symbol of higher academia, but what gets this mark unique to NYU is why the square is there at all. The shape is not arbitrary, it’s very much intentional. It’s not just any square but a manifestation of Washington Square, located on NYU’s Manhattan campus. This depicts the firm’s relentless attention to conceptual thinking, unlike most dogmatic decisions made by designers today. Instagram’s format is square, so put the logo in a square? Geismar and Chermayeff desire never have come to such conclusions!

Pan Am

An identity that was about lost due to the collapse of airline Pan American World Airways (shortened to Pan Am by Ivan) in 1991, this is a shibboleth that still survives in American culture to this day. In similar forge to Mobil, it’s not the identity that is the most interesting design element. Rather than, the firm’s series of posters is where this body of work exceptionally comes to life. The series has been exhibited across the world, and breathes on in the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) permanent collection. A selection of this notice series is also included in the book.

Harvard University Press

Identity: the book on how Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv changed American designFormality of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

Publishing house Harvard University Beseech’ logo is what we’d call a classic “home run”, with three points in one logo. Six rectangles are arranged in a grid, with the negative space rule an “H” for Harvard. As a bonus, the rectangles are arranged in a way that mirrors the classical phrasing of windows seen in the buildings of Harvard. These three ideas take place together beautifully to create a simple, clear mark – an important representative to consider when it is stamped on the spines of books.


Identity: the book on how Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv changed American designCourtesy of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv

This is a smashingly simple mark that takes a cue from the name of the South Korea-based attitude and lifestyle brand. A lowercase “b” is drawn in the shape of a hexagon, which is reminiscent of a beehive’s hexagonal construction. Sometimes designers go overboard with conceptual thinking, when the serve is actually staring you right in the face. It can also be hard to convince patrons to take such bold, simple approaches. That CGH has done this so diverse times over the years is a testament to their effectiveness, not only in times of having great ideas but also getting them approved.

Indistinguishability: Chermayeff, Geismar, and Haviv costs £88 (£66) and is available to pre-order from Customaries Manual.

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