Our next guest is Tom Geismar, the acclaimed American graphic designer famous for creating some of the world's most recognisable and enduring brands.
Tom is a founding member of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv (formerly Brownjohn, Chermayeff & Geismar and Chermayeff & Geismar), the highly respected design firm in New York, which he began with friends Ivan Chermayeff and Robert Brownjohn in 1957. Together, they became renowned for their fresh and creative approach to companies such as Pan Am, Chase Bank, and PBS – which paved the way for the design industry we know today.
During his incredible career, Tom has created outstanding designs across print, packaging and environmental. There are many highlights, including his impactful work for Xerox, which created a new standard for design in corporate communications. There was also his special relationship with Mobil over 35 years and his unique take on exhibitions, bringing together many creative disciplines to create stand-out designs for The Statue of Liberty Museum, Ellis Island Museum, and many more. It's no wonder he's considered a pioneer in the field.
In this episode, we talk about those early days in New York City when a tremendous cultural shift was afoot, and the design industry was a completely different landscape back then. We hear of their first office: a tiny bedroom which featured a desk – an old door propped up on makeshift legs – of which Tom sat across from his then partner and mentor Brownjohn.
There's some insight into some of his favourite projects, and we learn of some of his regrets. How his practice has changed over the decades, and why they have kept their design firm deliberately small. We hear what he thinks of new technology like DALL-E and how he feels about graphic design today.
For someone described as a "sweetheart" by New York's design community, Tom is a brilliant mind that has won many awards and continues to enjoy being part of his practice today, even after 65 years in the business.
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