WGBH Openvault

Design Archives; Paul Rand Interview

09/01/1981

1999 NTW Preservation master NOT INTERVIEW FOOTAGE--34:30 OF RAW, UNEDITED SHOTS OF THE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR OF HIS HOUSE, SHOWING MANY OF HIS FAMOUS DESIGNS. SHOTS OF RAND AND HIS WIFE WALKING AROUND HIS HOUSE, PRESUMABLY FOR USE IN A BROADCAST VERSION OF THE INTERVIEW (WHICH NEVER CAME TO BE).


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Series
Design Archives
Program
Paul Rand Interview
Series Description

Series of original interviews. Series release date: 1981

Program Description

225-minute interview on five videocassettes. One of the cassettes does not contain interview footage, but 34 raw, unedited minutes of exterior and interior shots of Rand’s house, including shots of some of his most famous designs.

Tape 1 (44:15): Rand’s influence and his reception of an honorary medal; inability to answer question about the graphic artist’s ability to enrich the world; what a graphic designer does; all-pervading nature of graphic design; difference between illustrators and designers; technology’s role in making many design skills obsolete; he calls design the most important element in all the visual arts; childhood origins in Brooklyn and natural early interests in drawing and design; education at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students’ League in New York; first jobs doing catalog illustrations; work at George Schweitzer’s advertising studio; Europe’s superior designers of the 1930’s; work in the late 1930’s for Direction magazine; his famous “Barbed-Wire X-mas” cover for Direction; client-designer relationship of the times.

Tape 2 (56:30): Further differentiates between graphic designers and illustrators; involvement with Apparel Arts magazine in 1936; freedom he had then as a designer compared to designers today who are curbed by management; his relationship with his students; his relationship with clients; work at Weintraub Advertising Agency in New York beginning in 1941; his clients at that time and conditions one had to consider when designing for large companies; dislike for market research in design; like for clients who trust his designs; dislike of “cloning” in today’s advertising; pressures of working for magazines and advertising agencies; the value of having constraints in one’s designs.

Tape 3 (59:15): Various meanings of the word “design”; defines graphic arts as a term covering all fields of art; overtly commercial nature of graphic art; distinction between fine and commercial arts; value of the education his students get; his typical students; the value of instinct over training; origins and process behind his famous ads for Orbach’s Department Store while at Weintraub; promotion of social causes in his ads; story about the rejection of his proposal for a Picasso exhibition catalog; salesmanship in design; origins of his IBM designs; ABC, Westinghouse, and UPS designs; the need for a designer to keep a distance from his designs; the importance of repetition in design; the support of Westinghouse president for his logo design; work with J. Irwin Miller; his present desire to remain small and maintain a few corporate clients; first meeting and subsequent relationship with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy; Nagy’s influence on him, especially regarding book reading and collecting.

Tape 4 (56:30): Influence of books on him; the writing process behind his book Thoughts on Design (1947); his house/studio in Connecticut; anecdotes of his childhood home; difficulties of working at home; his book and art collections; writing children’s books in the 1950’s; difficulty of working with large corporate clients afraid to take chances on designs; influences of LeCorbusier, Cassandra, Brodovich, and Jensen on his work; the dominance of Europeans on the design field; Japanese appreciation of Rand; sense of humor in his designs; ephemerality of graphic design; Japanese design and its influence; dislike of over-emphasis on imitating schools of design; influence of classical music on visual arts; European and Japanese influences on design; recent Japanese tendency to copy Western design; impossibility of creating a permanent design philosophy in large companies with constant turnover of leaders; the importance of salesmanship in design; ethics and morals in design and art; lack of famous contemporary designers; praises posters of Howard Chafton in the 1930’s and the‘40’s; the influence of William Morris’ Arts and Crafts Movement on design; the brilliance of German designer Anton Mahlau (sp?); influence of Tom Benremo and his incorporation of modern art notions into design; the influence of the Bauhaus on design.

Tape 5 (34:30): Raw, unedited footage of exterior and interior shots of Rand’s house, including shots of some of his most famous designs; shots of Rand and his wife walking around their house, presumably for use in a broadcast version of the interview that never came to be.

Duration

00:61:00

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type

Video

Subjects
Interviews
Unedited footage
Graphic arts
Contributors
Rand, Paul, 1914-1996 (Interviewee)
Hightower, Carolyn (Interviewer)
Citation
Chicago: “Design Archives; Paul Rand Interview,” 09/01/1981, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 11, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_E5989676B8AB4B45A9E5E5E1671198D4.
MLA: “Design Archives; Paul Rand Interview.” 09/01/1981. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 11, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_E5989676B8AB4B45A9E5E5E1671198D4>.
APA: Design Archives; Paul Rand Interview. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_E5989676B8AB4B45A9E5E5E1671198D4
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