I have always been interested about corporate identities of brands and I get a sense of satisfaction whenever I see a really well designed logo and identity especially when it gets recognition and becomes a really iconic visual.

When it comes to branding design firm, there is a design giant in New York City that had created the identities of many renowned brands. Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv is a branding and graphic design firm founded in 1957 and is currently led by partners Tom Geismar and Sagi Haviv.

Although they had been around for over 60 years, I really feel that their designs are very intuitive and reflects modernity at best. Most of their designs are very tactical, well thought out and uses geometric shapes that gives it a great proportion.

Factset Research Systems, 1996

Univision, 1989

Some of the many brands they have designed for are National Geographic, Harvard University Press, NBC, New York University and Mobil. Although these brands are known to have a traditional practices, their identities are all given a fresh look to it with trendy and eye-catching colours in addition to the beautiful geometric shapes.

Despite being a branding firm, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv is also known for putting up exhibits and environmental art installations. Some of their projects included the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the Statue of Liberty Museum, two World’s Fair pavilions (the U.S. pavilions of 1967 and 1970), and the red number 9 at 9 West 57th Street in New York City. This really shows how branding is not just about the logo but can also involve event activations on site and that requires the firm to always update and accept new technologies and skills.

Class Feedback:

The past four weeks has been a blur honestly but it has been enjoyable so far being able to really learn about something that relates to what I’m doing which is graphic design. The quizzes gave me slight anxiety but all is gud because it really makes me genuinely take time to understand the terms and who did what. Something I wish the mod could work is perhaps a consistent timeline? Because I am low-key lost with the jumping of different times from the first week up till week 10.



I have always loved modern/didone typefaces such as Didot and Bodoni but after the second lecture, I became extremely drawn towards the fat face type. Absolutely attention-grabbing with its thick strokes and contrasting thin serifs was honestly just Bodoni and Didot on steroids.

Based on the lecture, the first fat face type was introduced by a prominent English type founder, Robert Thorne in 1803. As this was a time in Europe where printing technology and innovation flourished, many trades and enterprises or commerce are blooming therefore, there is a great demand for print advertising such as posters, flyers and pamphlets. Although Robert Thorne didn’t publish another book of type specimens after 1803, he continued to come out with other new bold fonts at his Fann Street Foundry up till his death in 1820.

1832 reward poster for lost horse, from the John Soulby collection, University of Reading.

Moving into the 20th century, type foundries came out with dozens of new sans serif fonts such as Gill Sans, Futura, Agency Gothic , etc. However, fat faces came out with even more new releases such as Modern Ratio from the German foundry Stempel in 1923 and Ultra Bodoni in 1928 from the American Type Founders, to name a few. This time round, fat faces weren’t just used for display types but it is also used for body copies but also very largely as a design element as well. Fat faces can scream out a design but it also preserves a certain elegance to it which made it quite a popular choice in design.

Herbert Bayer cover design using Ultra Bodoni for the 1939 issue of PM Magazine, a journal showcasing the finest examples of quality graphic art reproduction and modern design.
Paul Rand’s 1962 simple cover design exploiting size and contrast with almost nothing but Ultra Bodoni.

Personally, I feel that in modern use, fat faces are often seen predominantly in fashion, editorial and creative industries. I think it’s because of its versatility in communicating stylishness both for males and females as seen in the many logos, headers and titles in fashion magazines and luxury brands. However, despite understanding its eminent beauty and presence, fat faces are quite difficult to read when it is in a long chunk or paragraph of body copy so it is important to balance it out with a sans serif font or a much more legible serif font.







I think it was an interesting introduction to the history of graphic design where manuscripts and carvings were the beginning of design as we know today. Something that I learnt during Christian Art in Art History last year was also mentioned in the first lecture whereby the Book of Kells were produced to disseminate information to illiterate followers through illustrations, ornamentations and other decorations.

The idea that design assists people in comprehending texts and ideas is really interesting as after thousands of years, as designers, our job is still designing graphics to relay a message and making people understanding what the concept or text is about. Although the Book of Kells has rather abstract designs, it still pretty much proves that graphics or in this case intricate illustrations are used to disseminate information clearer to those who are illiterate.

In addition, the idea of using graphics to better visualize a text or idea reminds me of rebus which is something that I have always had fun in deciphering. Although it is used firstly during the Ancient Egyptian times, it is still widely used in the modern words especially in ads to give it a comical twist or to simply make the ad more interesting in which making the audience stop and think to decipher what the text actually means.