As their website will tell you, “Pentagram provides design services across the full spectrum of graphics, identity, architecture, interiors, and products. Our multi-disciplinary structure, with teams from different disciplines working in the same environment, promotes a culture of interchange that adds tremendous value to all creative thinking. ” (Pentagram) This vision all began in London in 1962 when Colin Forbes, Alan Fletcher, and Bob Gill came together to form a graphic design consultancy. Fletcher, Forbes, and Gill came together in 1962 because they felt that they could present a better face as a business than as individuals.
Forbes recalls, “Everything was right” that year because there was so much creativity around and they were all the right age. (Pentagram) After about two or three years they took a hard look at their business and realized that most of their business was troubleshooting for advertising firms and they decided that wasn’t what they wanted to do. In 1964, they were working on an exhibition in Milan with Theo Crosby and they decided to all join forces because more often than not, if someone “needed a letterhead” then they also had some kind of environment that would need work. Pentagram) Bob Gill left the company in 1964 because he asked Crosby how long it would take to build a building and thought it would take too long. So they decided to tall themselves Crosby Fletcher Forbes. Mervyn Kurlansky became a partner in 1969 to help with the increasing load of graphic design projects. In 1972 Crosby Fletcher Forbes began a project for BP Oil, designing service stations and they approached Kenneth Grange to develop the pump equipment. Grange also redesigned the American parking meter that appeared in Britain in the 1960s.
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This was also the time that Grange starting working on designs for Kenwood appliances and has spent several decades designing for them. There were now five partners: Crosby, Fletcher, Forbes, Kurlansky, and Grange; and on a partners’ weekend they decided that they needed a new name. They got into a fight about what to call themselves and after thumbing through several books, Fletcher found the name Pentagram in a book about black magic. John McConnell joined Pentagram in 1974 and Ron Herron joined in 1977. Curtis) In 1975, Grange designed the housing of the “Pocket Instamatic” for Kodak and in 1979 he designed the “Parker 25” fountain pen for Parker. (Art Directory) A major landmark for Pentagram was the opening of the office in New York in 1978 by Colin Forbes. There were three main reasons they decided to do this. One of the reasons they decided to open an expansion was that were was a lot of business from America in Europe and they thought that it would be easier for them to get business if they opened a branch in America.
Another reason to open the office in New York was over half of the Fortune 500 companies were located in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and was the biggest market for design in the world. The last main reason was that there “is an international market for design. ” (Pentagram) Soon after moving to New York, Forbes met Peter Harrison, who was an emerging US designer, and within twenty-four hours, he was a new partner. David Hillman was an art director and deputy editor of Nova for seven years until he became a partner in 1978.
In 1984, Harrison designed the annual report for MCI Communications to show “the organization’s size and the scale and breadth of its telecommunications network activities. ” (Pentagram) The next change for Pentagram came in 1986 when they expanded to the west coast. A San Francisco office was opened by Kit and Linda Hinrichs and Neil Shakery because they shared a similar “design philosophy and way of working. ” (Pentagram) Robert Wallace, president of Clarks of England, enlisted John McConnell to advise them on a new image. Kit Hinrichs, who focused on the “Englishness” of the brand, carried out the design work.
He gave prominence to the figures of Victorian founders Cyrus and James Clark. A year later, Etan Manasse became a partner in the New York office. He had been teaching at Pratt Institute and specialized in exhibitions because he had an “interest in communicating messages in space. ” (Pentagram) In 1988, Woody Pirtle, a graphic designer, moved to New York and became another partner. Alan Fletcher and Pirtle had met years early at an Alliance Graphique Internationale meeting and over the years Pirtle had developed friendships with other Pentagram partners.
Forbes had asked Pirtle to become a partner but the timing only became right when he wanted to move to New York. John Rushworth had been working for Pentagram, but it was early in the year 1990 that he became the first elected partner from within the firm. Also in 1990, Grange designed the Adshel bus stops for London Transport. Peter Saville had established his reputation as “one of the stars of a new generation of graphic designers in the UK. ” His business was in a financial crisis and he accepted the offer to become a partner at London office in 1990. Design Museum British Council) There were major changes for Pentagram in 1991—four partners were added in one year in the USA. Michael Bierut had made a name for himself by the force of his energy in the New York design community and by a purely social dinner with Woody Pirtle, the idea was born that he become a partner. Bierut and Paula Scher were co-chairing the upcoming AIGA conference and so Pirtle put up the same proposition to her. Bierut and Scher “exchanged their doubts and enthusiasms” about joining Pentagram before deciding to become partners. Pentagram) In February Pentagram had a terrible shock because a car killed Etan Manasse as he was crossing the street to his home. Linda Hinrichs later resigned from the firm, while Paula Scher introduced Pentagram to James Biber. He had been a young architect who had designed Paula’s previous office and several other graphic design studios, restaurants, offices, and residences. He also ended up joining the firm in 1991. Lowell Williams, a good friend of Woody Pirtle, was well respected throughout the national graphic design community and made the move from Houston to San Francisco, at the end of the year, to join Pentagram.
David Pocknell and Daniel Weil joined the London office, but Pocknell left in 1995. Peter Saville left the London for Los Angeles and in 1992 left the firm for good. Mervyn Kurlansky moved to Copenhagen and retired in 1993. Michael Gericke had been working for Communication Arts in Boulder, Colorado before he joined the New York office in 1986 and became a partner in 1993. The next year Lowell Williams left San Francisco and founded the office in Austin. Theo Crosby passed away while having surgery for a lung infection. The New York Times) Colin Forbes and Neil Shakery also left that same year. David Hillman also founded the office in Hong Kong in 1994. In 1989, Justus Oehler joined the London office and became a partner six years later in 1995. Peter Harrison left Pentagram in 1996, while Robert Brunner became a partner in San Francisco. One of Pentagram’s mostly widely known works is Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. A man named Sam Wanamaker was very disappointed to find that there was nothing more than a plaque to show where the theatre had once been.
So in 1970, he founded the Shakespeare Globe Trust and began working with Pentagram to design the building. (Shakespeare’s Globe) It wasn’t until 1987 that work began on the actual site to build the foundation. Six years later in 1993, construction of the theatre itself began. It was unfortunate that Sam never got to see the finished project because he passed away in December 1993 and the Globe was not finished until 1997. Kenneth Grange left Pentagram in 1998, but Lorenzo Apicella and Angus Hyland joined the firm.
A year later, Abbott Miller became a partner at the New York office. In 2000, Fernando Gutierrez joined the London office, DJ Stout became a partner at the Austin office, and April Greiman founded the Los Angeles office, but it only lasted a few months. In 2002, Oehler founded the office in Berlin and Lisa Strausfeld joined the New York office. William Russell became a partner at the London office in 2005 while Woody Pirtle left the New York office. John McConnell and Gutierrez left the London firm in 2006, but Domenic Lippa and Harry Pearce became partners that year.
Apicella transferred to the San Francisco office and Luke Hayman joined the New York office in 2006. Also in 2006, Pentagram designed the new signage for the New York Times building and the plans for the Harley-Davidson Museum were revealed. The Museum was completed in 2008. In 2007, David Hillman left Pentagram. In 2009, Pentagram released the book Mark’s, which collected 400 symbols that the partners designed since 1962. At the end of 2009, the building of The Cooper Union was complete. Although, Pentagram did not design the building, partner Abbott Miller did design the signage for the building.
The newest partner is Eddie Opara. He had established his own studio, The Map Office, but joined Pentagram’s New York office in October 2010. Naresh Ramchandani also joined Pentagram in 2010. The other current partners are L. Apicella, M. Bierut, M. Gerickle, L. Hayman, A. Hyland, D. Lippa, A. Miller, J. Oehler, H. Pearce, J. Rushworth, W. Russell, P. Scher, DJ Stout, L. Strausfeld, and D. Weil. One of the most outstanding things about Pentagram is its “flat organization. ” The firm does not have any CEOs or Presidents; only partners.
Forbes said that the advantage that has arisen from their partnership is the “freedom of owning one’s own business combined with the security of belonging to a stronger unit. ” (Pentagram) The founders wanted to set up an organization that would enable individuals to work for a group but still be able to establish their own identity. The original partners decided that any new partners must have an established reputation and experience of running a viable business. An extremely sophisticated series of checks and balances has been built because individual freedom for the partners is a central idea o the Pentagram philosophy. Each partner must account for the profitability of its group at the partner’s meetings. All the partners have their own design teams and they take on their own tasks but they always share their profits equally with each other. Each person in the office is responsible to only one partner and the partner makes all the critical decisions with the client and supervises the project. Forbes said, “The principle is simple – if something goes wrong it has to be somebody’s fault. ” (Pentagram) That way, Pentagram makes sure to meet their promises and deadlines.
There are currently 17 partners and they all have their own stories. Lorenzo Apicella was born in Italy, but studied architecture at Nottingham University, Canterbury College of Art, and the Royal College of Art in London. He then moved to Houston, Texas where he became an assistant designer for Skidmore Owings and Merrill. He later moved back to London and in 1989 established his own practice where his clients included Pepsi, Volvo, and Sharp. In 1998, he merged his studio with Pentagram in London, but from 2006 to 2009, he and his design team relocated to the San Francisco branch.
A couple of his works include “a comprehensive interior design programme for Virgin Upper, Premium and Economy Class cabins” and ongoing projects with Citibank. (Pentagram) Michael Bierut graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning in 1980 and started working at Vignelli Associates. He worked there for ten years before joining Pentagram. While at Pentagram, his client base has included the Walt Disney Company, Motorola, the New York Jets, and Princeton University. Michael Gericke went to the University of Wisconsin where he studied graphic design.
He worked for Communication Arts in Boulder, Colorado, where he “produced many projects combining graphics with three-dimensional design. ” (Pentagram) He and his team take on a wide variety of assignments and media. His designs are known for their simplicity and clarity of portraying the essential qualities of the project. Luke Hayman was born in England and graduated with honors from Central St. Martin’s School of Art in London in 1988. He moved to New York in 1992, but did not become a partner until 2006. He had redesigned a numerous amount of publications including TIME, Consumer Reports, and The Atlantic.
Along with working at Pentagram, he also teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Angus Hyland also studied in London at the London College of Printing and the Royal College of Art. In 2002 he received an honorary Master of Arts from The Surrey Institute of Art ; Design. He ran his own successful studio in Soho until he became a partner in 1998. He has worked with a wide range of clients including BBC, Citibank, Getty Images, Samsung, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Tate Modern. Domenic Lippa also studied at the London College of Printing and in 1990 he co-founded Lippa Pearce.
Sixteen years later he joins the London office as a partner. He also co-edits and designs the typography magazine Circular and is a member of D&AD, RSA, and AGI. His friend Harry Pearce also became a partner at the same time. Pearce studied at Canterbury College of Art and his works range from spatial design to print and packaging. His clients include Saks Fifth Avenue and Halfords. He has also created all the design material for Witness in New York City in the past 15 years because he is dedicated to supporting human rights. Abbott Miller was born in Indiana but studied design in New York at the Cooper Union School of Art.
He founded the studio Design/Writing/Research where he and his partner pioneered the concept of “design as author” under taking projects in which “content and form are developed in a symbiotic relationship. ” (Pentagram) Justus Oehler went to school in Munich, Germany, where he studied visual communication. He then began his design career at Buro Rolf Muller in 1985 until 1988, when he went back to school at the Central School of Art and Design in London to graduate with his Master’s degree in graphic design. He joined Pentagram in 1989 and became a partner in 1995.
His culturally diverse upbringing reflects when he designs corporate identities, environmental designs, and visual communication programs. Eddie Opara, the newest partner, was born in London and studied graphic design at the London College of Printing and Yale University. He began his career at ATG and Imaginary Forces and then worked as a senior designer and art director at 2 x 4 before starting his own studio, The Map Office, in 2005. Five years later he joined Pentagram as a partner in the New York office. His projects include brand identity, environments, interactive installations, websites, and user interfaces.
His clients have included Prada, Morgan Stanley, UCLA, and St. Regis Hotels. Naresh Ramchandani also became a partner in 2010. He went to Manchester University where he double majored in English and American Literature. He has done work for IKEA and founded Karmarama in 2000, but left in 2005. John Rushworth graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in graphic design from Preston College of Art in 1981. He worked for Michael Peters Ltd and Conran Design Group before joining Pentagram in 1983. He became the firm’s first associate in 1987 and was invited to become a partner two years later.
His clients include Polaroid, The Savoy Group, Pantone, Disney, and Hewlett Packard. William Russell went to the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the Royal College of Art to study architecture. He established William Russell Architecture & Design in 2000, but joined Pentagram in 2005. Some of his clients include H&M, the Tate Gallery, and the actor Ewan MacGregor. Paula Scher went to school at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and began her career as a record cover art director at Atlantic and CBS Records in the 1970s.
She co-founded Koppel & Scher in 1984 but five years later she joined Pentagram as a partner at the New York firm. Her graphic identities for Citibank and Tiffany & Co have become case studies and some of her other clients include Baush + Lomb, Coca-Cola, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New York City Ballet. DJ Stout was born in Texas and went to Texas Tech University where he studied graphic design. He began his career in 1981 for Robert A. Wilson Associates in Dallas. He moved to Austin six years later but in 2000 he joined Pentagram as a partner in the Austin office.
His expertise is in design and redesign of a variety of publications including magazines, books, and catalogs. He and his team also design identities, branding, packaging, and websites. Lisa Strausfeld was educated at Brown University where she studied art history and computer science. She also received a master’s degree from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1996 she founded Perspecta with two classmates from MIT, but later went to work at Quokka Sports. She eventually founded her own studio, InformationArt, but joined Pentagram in 2002. Her team specializes in digital information design projects that range from software prototypes and websites to interpretive displays and large-scale media installations. ” (Pentagram) Daniel Weil grew up in Argentina and went to the University of Buenos Aires to graduate in 1977. The next year he moved to London to study industrial design at the Royal College of Art, where he received his master’s degree in 1981. Until 1990, he designed his own products and his client base included Esprit, French Connection, and Channel Four. He then joined Pentagram in 1992, where his rojects have included art direction for Swatch; packaging and concept stores for Lego; packaging for Pantone; and CD packaging for EMI. His most major client has been United Airlines because he has designed the cabin interiors, seating, tableware and amenities for all classes, staff uniforms, check-in systems and lounges, as well as the full reconfiguration and redevelopment of United’s own terminal at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. (Pentagram) Pentagram has 17 partners who work in Austin, Berlin, London, and New York. Each partner has their own clients and work with their own teams in their own ways.
They share and contribute equally with each other. There are few similarities in style and inspiration between the partners, but the one thing they do have in common is Pentagram. The partners do not sign their names to their work but the name Pentagram. Yet they do retain individual reputations and identities. Works Cited Art Directory. Kenneth Grange. 11 2010 <http://www. art-directory. info/design/kenneth-grange-1929/>. Curtis, Hillman. hillmancurtis :: film and video :: Artist Series: Pentagram 07 :: 9176792725. 2008. 11 2010 <http://www. hillmancurtis. com/index. php? /film/watch/pentagram_07/>.
Design Museum British Council. Peter Saville / Designing Modern Britain – Design Museum Exhibition : – Design/Designer Information. 2010 <http://designmuseum. org/design/peter-saville>. Pentagram. Daniel Weil | Partners | Pentagram. 11 2010 <http://pentagram. com/en/partners/daniel-weil. php>. —. Domenic Lippa | Partners | Pentagram. 11 2010 <http://pentagram. com/en/partners/domenic-lippa. php>. —. Lisa Strausfeld | Partners | Pentagram. 11 2010 <http://pentagram. com/en/partners/lisa-strausfeld. php>. —. Lorenzo Apicella | Partners | Pentagram. 11 2010 <http://pentagram. om/en/partners/lorenzo-apicella. php>. —. Michael Gericke | Partners | Pentagram. 11 2010 <http://pentagram. com/en/partners/michael-gericke. php>. —. Pentagram: The Compendium. London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1998. —. Portfolio | Pentagram. 11 2010 <http://pentagram. com/en/portfolio/>. Shakespeare’s Globe. Shakespeare’s Globe :: Background. 11 2010 <http://www. shakespeares-globe. org/abouttheglobe/background/>. The New York Times. Theo Crosby Dies; Architect Was 67 – New York Times. 15 September 1994. 11 2010 <http://www. nytimes. com/1994/09/15/obituaries/theo-crosby-dies-architect-was-67. html>.