Legendary American graphic designer Paul Rand was hired by Steve Jobs to design an identity for his new company “NeXT” that would be of international standard.

In every form, the work reflects Rand’s conception of good design, one which seems utterly obvious today but was largely foreign—at least in America—before Rand demonstrated it so convincingly. It was a simple idea: Graphic design can, and should, be both beautiful and functional.

Perhaps more than any other single designer, Paul Rand was responsible for defining visual culture in America in the decades following World War II. He radically transformed advertising, blowing away the dust of the Depression era and pioneering a new, modern approach to selling products. He helped convince some of nation’s biggest corporations that good design was good business, crafting indelible logos for the likes of IBM, UPS, and ABC.

Paul Rand and NeXT

In 1986, Steve Jobs was a guy trying to launch a start-up. Having been ousted from Apple the year before, he and a small band of employees were in the early stages of building a new computer company called Next. Jobs had invested millions in the venture, and his reputation as a visionary business leader was staked on its success. The group was still working out key details about its products. But Jobs was certain about one thing: He needed a logo from Paul Rand.

Paul Rand’s work for IBM encompassed everything from its striped logo to posters for internal conferences that were so stunning (like Eye Bee M) they became icons of graphic design. Rand followed the sachplakat, or object poster, style that proliferated in Germany in the early 20th century and spread to Switzerland where it was popular through the 1950s. In the sachplakat school of thought, one image should predominate. Rand’s work was so legendary that when Steve Jobs asked him to come up with a few logos for NeXT and Rand responded, “No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me,” he didn’t challenge him—and paid him $100,000. “Paul’s a very interesting intertwining of a pure artist and somebody who is very astute at solving business problems,” Jobs said of him.

Rand created a 100-page brochure detailing the brand and the rationale behind it, including the precise angle used for the logo (28°) and a new company name, NeXT. Jobs was delighted with the work. Rand was 72 when he designed the logo for NeXT.

Steve Jobs on working with Rand:

“I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options go talk to other people.’”

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