Chermayeff and Geismar collection
Scope and Contents
The Chermayeff and Geismar collection contains two series: Clients and Project Files and Books. The Client series spans from 1959-2000 and is filed according to the collection’s original order, for the most part alphabetically by the names of the clients. The files contain only the final samples of Chermayeff & Geismar’s design work. The design work for clients include brochures, folders, letterhead, annual reports, cards, promotional packets and graphic design standards manuals. Unordered clients’ projects are added after the organized client work. Design work for Mobil is filed at the end of the collection and includes promotional materials for both commercial and outreach projects. The posters are filed according to the same system, organized alphabetically by client, with Mobil work at the end, organized alphabetically by title. The second series consists of bibliographic files including three published books, two by Chermayeff and Geismar.
- Creation: 1956-2004
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open to researchers.
Biographical / Historical
Ivan Chermayeff was born in London in 1932. He studied at Harvard University and the Institute of Design in Chicago, and graduated with a BFA from the School of Art and Architecture at Yale University. As well as a designer, Chermayeff worked as an illustrator and collage artist. Thomas H. Geismar was born in New Jersey, also in 1932. He studied at Rhode Island School of Design, graduated Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University, and then received an MFA in graphic design from the School of Art and Architecture at Yale University.
In 1957, Chermayeff, Geismar and Robert Brownjohn formed Brownjohn, Chermayeff & Geismar in New York City, designing record album covers for Columbia records and book jacket covers. In 1960, Robert Brownjohn moved to London, and the firm changed its name to Chermayeff & Geismar Associates. The firm then became Chermayeff & Geismar, Inc. in 1991, and in 2005 divided into Chermayeff & Geismar Studio, led by Chermayeff and Geismar, and C&G Partners, led by the principals of the firm.
Throughout each adaptation of their firm, Chermayeff and Geismar focused on identity design and exhibition design, though they worked on a variety of projects, including book and album covers, posters, and packaging. Clients included the Boston Transit System, Chase National Bank, the Museum of Modern Art, National Geographic, Pepsi-Cola, Smithsonian Museums, and United Nations Development Programme. Chermayeff and Geismar establish long-term design relationships with clients Xerox Corporation, Socony Mobile Oil Corporation, and Knoll, designing and establishing their corporate identities.
In addition to their design firm, both Chermayeff and Geismar also became partners in the newly established architectural and multi-disciplinary design firm Cambridge Seven Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1963. They formed Art Planning Consultants in 1973 to help organizations commission, assemble and display art and art collections.
Throughout their careers, Chermayeff and Geismar garnered extensive awards and citations, both individually and as a firm. Both Chermayeff and Geismar are elected to Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) in 1978, received Gold Medals awarded by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) in 1979, and received Yale Arts Medals in 1985. Chermayeff was elected president of AIGA in 1963, and elected to the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 1982. In 1985, Geismar received the Presidential Design Award for Symbol Sign program. That same year, Chermayeff & Geismar Associates receives First International Design Award from Japanese Design Foundation.
Through the firm, Chermayeff and Geismar published two books: TM: Trademarks Designed by Chermayeff & Geismar in 2000 and Designing: in 2003. extracted from Chermayeff & Geismar, Tokyo: Seibundo Shinkosha, c. 1981; and http://www.cgstudionyc.com/home.html (accessed 9 June 2006)
15 Linear Feet (10 Document Boxes 2 Oversize Boxes 163 Posters )
The collection contains client project files and posters created by the design firm Chermayeff and Geismar, as well as writings by the two designers, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar.
The collection is divided into two series: Client Correspondence, Project and Documentation Files; and Bibliographic Files.
Graphic Design Archives, Cary Collection Annex
Other Finding Aids
In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the Cary Graphic Arts Collection.
Chermayeff and Geismar collection
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Chermayeff & Geismar Associates Collection was given to Rochester Institute of Technologyin 2005 by Ivan Charmayeff and Thomas Geismar.
Accession number(s): 2005:001
Collection processed by Anna Kuipers, 2006.
Finding aid encoded by Lisa Witt, September 2015.
- Chermayeff and Geismar. Chermayeff and Geismar Associates (Organization)
- Chermayeff and Geismar collection
- Cary Graphic Design Archives
- Lisa Witt
- 02 September 2015
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note