Tom Geismar at SVA Theater

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday October 1, 2014

Among the pioneers of graphic design, Tom Geismer, in his partnership with Ivan Chermayeff, has been at the forefront of corporate branding since the formation of Chermeyeff & Geismar, in 1957.

At the time, graphic design was a new discipline, and branding was called corporate identity design. Yet the firm is noted, said designer Rudy de Harak, for starting “a craze for abstract corporate symbols, with the one they designed for the Chase Manhattan Bank.”  Geismaris credited with producing over 100 logos over the years, including Mobil, PBS, and Xerox.

“We try to do something that is memorable for a symbol,” Tom Geismar notes, “something that has some barb to it that will make it stick in your mind, make it different from the others, perhaps unique. And we want to make it attractive, pleasant and appropriate. The challenge is to combine all those things into something simple.”

This fall, Geismar is being honored by the School of Visual Arts with the 26th annual Masters Series Award and Exhibition. The Masters Series: Tom Geismar is the first retrospective of the designer’s work to feature groundbreaking logos, graphics and exhibition designs as well as personal works, books and student projects from his own collection. The exhibition will be on view through October 18 at the SVA Chelsea Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor, New York City. Information

On Tuesday, October 7, Tom Geismar will give a talk at the SVA Theater, 333 West 23rd Street, NY, NY. Free and open to the public. Information.


Tom Geismar is a founding partner of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, a graphic and exhibition design firm that today concentrates on developing graphic identity programs for companies and institutions around the world. During the past five decades he has designed more than 100 graphic identity programs. His logo designs for Mobil, Chase Manhattan Bank, National Geographic, PBS, Rockefeller Center, Univision, NYU, Xerox and dozens of others have become part of the American landscape.  He has received all the major awards in the field, including one of the first Presidential Design Awards for helping to establish a national system of standardized transportation symbols.

Geismar has also played a leading role in many of the firm’s exhibition designs and world’s fair pavilions. His projects include such major tourist attractions as the United States pavilion at Expo ’70 in Japan, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the Statue of Liberty Museum, the Truman Presidential Library and the permanent installation of Thomas Jefferson’s Library at the Library of Congress.

Geismar concurrently attended the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown, he received a master’s degree in graphic design from Yale University, School of Art and Architecture.


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