Food for thought‘[...] do not think that good design can make a poor product good, whether the product be a machine, a building, a promotional brochure or a business man. But [...] good design can materially help make a good product reach its full potential. In short, [...] good design is good business.’
Thomas J. Watson Jr., IBM CEO

More about Paul Rand & Steve Jobs

October 17, 2011, 10:11 AM

Too bad it’s no longer a metaphor to say that Paul Rand & Steve Jobs are a match made in heaven, but that’s the way it is. Back in 1986, Steve Jobs got special permission from IBM to commission Paul Rand to design the logo for his new computer company, NeXT. In his typical, no-nonsense fashion, Paul Rand made a small booklet with the logo’s presentation. Mr Steven Heller kindly posted a page from his ‘Design Dialogues’ book where Mr Rand talks about how the logo came to be, and also shares scans of the original booklet. He also says that ‘Rand waited in his hotel room for Jobs’ response’. However, Mr Rand himself tells a different version in Michael Kroeger’s ‘Paul Rand, Conversations with Students’ book:

For example, Steve Jobs of NeXT is a very tough client. If he doesn’t like something, you hand it to him and he says “that stinks”. There is no discussion. On the other hand, I was lucky enough, I suppose, when I did the logo for him. After he saw the presentation of it, he got up — we were all at his house, sitting on the floor, you know, Hollywood style, with the fireplace going, hot as hell outside. [laughter] He got up and looked at me and said, “Can I hug you.” Now that is overcoming a conflict between the client and the designer.
— Paul Rand

You can read that on page 55, as you can see below:

Paul Rand talking about his meeting with Steve Jobs (click to enlarge)

His NeXT presentation is also shown in his book, ‘Design Form and Chaos’, published in 1993, together with five other presentations he did for The Limited,  IBM, AdStar, IDEO and Morningstar. In his 1996 book, ‘From Lascaux to Brooklyn’, he shows four more presentations, designed for Okasan, EF English First, Hub TV and Cummins Engine Company. All are a treat to see, my favourites being EF English First, Hub TV and, of course, the classic IBM. As a side note, the Cummins presentation shows a classic case of ‘container branding’, which seems to be quite popular these days. Mr Rand did it in 1973, so nothing’s new, again.

Paul Rand books, all well worth reading and adding to your library

Now, I remember reading another story told by Mr Rand about a client (woman), who, after the presentation, Rand having told her the Steve Jobs story, she asked “Can I kiss you?” Unfortunately I can’t seem to find the source, but I’ll keep searching.

Later update:
I’ve managed to find a source for the second part of the story, told by John Maeda:

He then relayed a separate story about work for a different client where there was a similar eager acceptance of his presentation booklet, at which time the client (a female) asked Rand, “Can I kiss you?” And Rand replied “Sure.” He then commented, “You should be sure to tell your clients stories of what previous clients have done (in reference to the Jobs story). That way they try to one up the last client.”

 

FURTHER READING

— Mr Heller’s ‘Paul Rand + Steve Jobs’ article on Imprint, showing the NeXT booklet;
John Maeda’s recollection of Paul Rand’s MIT lecture, published in IDEA Magazine;
— My book review of ‘Paul Rand, Conversations with Students’;
— Stuart Watson (from VentureThree) writes about ‘container branding’ over the years on his blog, ‘Visual Shizzle’;
— David Airey (LogoDesignLove) and Antonio Carusone (AisleOne) also mention the NeXT logo.

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Thank you, Steve

October 6, 2011, 7:42 AM

Feels like losing a dear family member. Thank you, Steve.

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,” … “You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” — Steve Jobs

Sorry Mr Glaser for borrowing your idea, I’m sure you’d understand.

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Paul Rand: Conversations with Students — Book review

January 2, 2011, 9:52 PM

«Everything is design. Everything!» … «It is important to use your hands, this is what distinguishes you from a cow or a computer operator.»

Starting with bold, very Rand-like quotes, Paul Rand: Conversations with Students, written by Michael Kroeger, is a small book divided in two parts: first, the conversations themselves, from February 1995 (first between Kroeger and Paul, together with his wife Marion, then between Rand and students from the School of Design, Arizona State University) and second, five homages from designers that had the privilege of studying with him closely. The author himself had the privilege of an individual one-week session in Brissago, Switzerland — as did Phillip Burton, Armin Hoffman, Herbert Matter and Wolfgang Weingart (also the book’s Foreword writer).

» Continue reading

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The real Steve Jobs and why design wins

September 14, 2007, 3:17 AM

Great portrayal of Steve Jobs’ by Robert X. Cringely.
(via Subtraction)

I was suprised by the iPhone’s price drop, but even more surprised by the open letter to all iPhone customers. The tone was polite, honest and direct, but I had the feeling it left no doubt about who’s in charge. It was obvious long time ago that Apple designs with arrogance (Clay Shirky beautifully writes on this topic in this “A Brief Message” post). But Mr Cringely manages to strip down Mr Jobs entirely, exposing his marketing genius, leaving no doubt about the recent price drop and it’s purpose. You almost get the feeling, as you read in awe, that Steve Jobs is the new Palpatine, soon to take over the entire universe in his white&minimalistic iDeath Star :))

Joke aside, this useful insight which proves Apple can and does do anything it wants with it’s customers only underlines the true power of design (no, not the dark side :P). The whole Apple strategy is dead simple, make the best looking and coolest designed stuff people need (or we think they’d need, since we, designers, know better, right ?) and the cash starts flooding in. Why ?
Because we still have little real, good, efficient design around us. We think we do, but we don’t actually. This is why a well thought product manages to sweep the market so easily: because it has (almost) no real competition.

The only problem is when the unchallenged leader begins to slow down, overconfident with its size and power. Or when it becomes so engulfed by it’s arrogance that it begins to lose contact with the end of the chain, the buyer. All great empires have fallen, as history unkindly has proven (well, capitalism seems to be the most succesful so far, but I don’t want to imagine what would replace it, should it fall). But for now, Steve Jobs still wants to show everybody he’s won. So the show will still go on, with, maybe, the best to come. And in the end, it’s all good for us, users.

(via Subtraction)

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