In the history of graphic design, only a few players hold the keys to the golden gates—players responsible for shaping the identities and aesthetic of many of the brands surrounding us today. It would be impossible to have that conversation without bringing up graphic designers Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar of Chermayeff & Geismar (now Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv).

Since founding their agency over 60 years ago, the pair have designed some of the most timeless and enduring logos and corporate identities that are still immediately recognizable in the modern age. Among others, these include Pan AM, Chase Bank, the Smithsonian Institute, NBC, Mobil, National Geographic, The Museum of Modern Art, and countless others.

Along with Massimo Vignelli, Paul Rand, and Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar were responsible for shifting the importance of graphic design (and design in general) from a “commercial art” to a business tool in the 1960s. One only needs to look at the biggest players in the modern business landscape today to see that they were onto something.

Sadly, Ivan Chermayeff passed away from natural causes due to complications from diabetes earlier this month. He was 85.

In this last interview with Chermayeff and Geismar from AIGA, we get a behind the scenes look at what it took to put design on the map back in the 1960s—from those who knew how to do it best:

Find out more about Chermayeff & Geismar by heading over to Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.