Behind the Cover

When it came time to design the cover for the Paul Rand: Art of Design catalog I knew I would have to execute to my best ability, considering every detail. I wanted to create a design that would honor Rand’s own aesthetic and speak to his playful approach to graphic work. Below is a selection of some of my favorite cover options — whittled down from the pool of 60!

The cover on the left features a pattern of layered squares seen in a number of Rand’s work including various materials for IBM or his poster design for Tokyo Communication Arts, and while a nice design, it felt a bit flat. The cover on the right with its free-form shapes, is inspired by Rand’s Direction Magazine exhibition poster and one of his watercolors. The forms are artfully arranged with type spelling out his name, however, the tone here was too experimental.

Next we applied the stripped IBM logo treatment to his own name: RAND. But it felt wrong to change his original design so much. On the right, we used his pattern for IBM packaging but we moved past this since it didn’t capture the entirety of the rest of the catalog.

This cover was inspired by Rand’s use of the halftone dot pattern which he frequently used in his Coronet ads as well as his layered approach to shapes and typography. This was a strong contender although ultimately we decided against it because it was too visually busy.

Coronet billboard designed by Paul Rand, 1945–1948. Photo by Wright
A selection of ephemera designed by Paul Rand for IBM, 1980–1985. Photo by Wright

The cover on the left features the deconstructed Westinghouse logo. This was a nice design but it felt a little too abstract while the cover on the right which utilizes similar geometric shapes fell more in line. The shapes are subtly angled and none of the diamonds or stripes are the exact same.

Once we landed on this pattern as the cover direction I started to take printing methods and paper choice into consideration. I also wanted the moment you open the catalog to have impact, so I kept the design of the cover fairly restrained by making it two toned.

The final design is modeled from a pattern Rand created for an IBM folder. The pattern is stamped in white foil, and includes a die cut revealing Rand’s signature on the title page.


On September 13th, Wright presented Paul Rand: The Art of Design. This auction includes over 300 works from the collection of Rand ranging from never before seen paintings and graphics to his personal collection of fine art and design that served as inspiration throughout his pioneering career. You can view and purchase the full catalog here.