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Chermayeff & Geismar Inc.


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(established 1960)

Chermayeff & Geismar, a major New York design consultancy, has established a strong reputation for many design services including corporate identity, graphic design, typography, book design and signage, and exhibition design. First established in New York as Brownjohn, Chermayeff & Geismar Associates in 1957 it became Chermayeff & Geismar in 1960 after Robert Brownjohn (1925–70) left the partnership to join advertising agency J. Walter Thomson in London. The two remaining founders were the pioneering graphic designers Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar who had met each other whilst students in the School of Art & Architecture at Yale University in the mid‐1950s. Chermayeff was the son of the renowned Modernist designer Serge Chermayeff, who had emigrated to the United States from Britain in 1940, taking over from László Moholy‐Nagy as director of the Institute of Design, Chicago, in 1947. In the early 21st century Ivan Chermayeff and Geismar worked alongside the other principals in their consultancy: corporate identity designer Steff Geissbuhler, exhibition designers Keith Helmetag and Jonathan Alger, and graphic designer Emanuela Frigeriosa.

Amongst the early corporate identity schemes for which the consultancy gained a reputation were those for the Chase Manhattan Bank (1959), Mobil Oil (1964), and Rank Xerox (1965). Tom Geismar was the moving force behind many of these schemes as well as for designs for the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1970), the National Park Service, and the National Aquarium. Geismar was also involved in exhibition design, including the USA Pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan, and the Statue of Liberty Museum, New York. Geismar later chaired the US Department of Transportation Advisory Committee, resulting in a new system of standardized road signage systems for which he received a Presidential Design Award from President Reagan in 1985. Well known for his design of symbols, logotypes, and corporate identity schemes, Swiss‐trained Geissbuhler joined Chermayeff & Geismar in the mid‐1970s and built up a distinguished client list that included TimeWarner, NBC, the Union Pacific Corporation, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. His key projects also included architectural graphics for the IBM Building in New York and identity systems for the New York Public Library. In addition to many distinctive exhibition designs, Helmetag has also worked on information systems and signage for Terminal 4 at JFK Airport, New York, as well as schemes for Dulles and Logan Airports. Another of Chermayeff & Geismar's principals and a Yale University graduate with a major in architecture, Jonathan Alger, combined architecture, graphic design, and narrative as an underpinning of many of his exhibition designs for leading museums and libraries, including the New York Hall of Science, the National Museum of American History and the Library of Congress. Italian‐born and trained designer Emanuela Frigeriosa was employed by Chermayeff & Geismar from 1990 after working as a designer in London, Milan, and Tokyo during the 1980s. As well as packaging designs for Liz Claiborne's fragrances, Frigeriosa executed many company graphics standards manuals, as well as promotional materials and publicity for leading companies such as Knoll, the furniture manufacturer. She has also designed books for leading cultural institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and renowned art publishers such as Abrams in New York.

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Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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