Paul Rand’s ties to Connecticut are widely known, from his home for years in Weston and his tenure as a professor at Yale University.
In 1986, Rand left even more of a mark on the Connecticut design community with the design of the Connecticut Art Directors Club logo, still in use today.
“I had just joined the Board of the CADC,” recalled Nathan Garland (a friend of Rand’s and editor and contributor to many books on Rand) in an essay in 1998. “At my first meeting I learned that the Board was unable to select a logo from any of the various designs submitted by members in an open competition. Several of the designs had interesting aspects, but none were able to attract wide support.
“I suggested that Paul Rand […] might solve the club’s problem. I offered to ask Paul […] who agreed on condition that I oversee the application of his design.
“Several weeks later he called to say that he had it. Without having seen the earlier attempts by CADC members, Paul had combined several of the best ideas in one resolved configuration.”
Rand would say, “If you show them more than two ideas, you weaken your position. […] You make one statement, and this is it.”
Legend goes that Rand presented one solution in a “take it or leave it” kind of fashion.
“I do remember there were a few members who hated the design,” says Peter Good, an active member of CADC’s earlier years, and creator of iconic Connecticut identities for the Mark Twain House, UConn and the Wadsworth. “I think it’s an elegant, typically modern design, exhibiting graphic wit, simplicity and grace.”
“Paul’s design was an appropriate homage to both letter forms and symbols.” wrote Garland. “The familiar acronym CADC was varied by submitting the playing card ‘club’ sign as a rebus in place of the last letter. In order to avoid reading CAD, the misleading word made by the remaining three letters, he arranged the four elements in two rows of two each, which also made a simple square. This was reinforced by diagonally alternating two colors — solid black for the C and the club sign and red (or a grey screen of black) for the A and the D.”
The rebus was familiar territory for Rand, most famously in the Eye-Bee-M poster (an announcement for an in-house IBM event) but also in an unused AIGA logo from 1982.
Alexander Isley jokes, “The first time I saw the CADC logo, I thought, ‘That’s funny, they got someone to do a Paul Rand-style logo. Too bad they weren’t able to get the real guy.’ Now I’m older and I know more things.”
Wayne Raicik, designer of such notable identities as the Connecticut Lottery, Centerplate, and the Ad Club of Connecticut, admits, “When I first saw the logo I remember not being terribly impressed. At the time I was very young and Paul Rand was considered the ‘old guard’ — I’ll admit that it was a bit of young ignorance. It felt a little too simplistic and a little obvious and cliché with the club symbol.
“Over the years, as I became more aware of Mr. Rand and his legacy, I developed a deeper appreciation of the logo. I now have a deep regard for its simplicity, elegance and the equity it has built. Of course, the other half of the equation is that the CADC has done a masterful job protecting the brand and adhering to elegant solutions in the usage of the logo.”
Good adds, “In this post, post-modern environment, it now does look a little dated. It is somewhat ironic that a design executed in the spirit of timelessness, ultimately succumbs to the whims of popular style.
“But I do think that the Rand logo should continue to be used. How many Clubs can say that their identity was created by one of the greatest designers of the 20th century? Besides, what could be better?”
To add your spiffy picture or avatar to your comments
(for this and many other blogs), visit gravatar.com.