Jens Müller and the persuasive power of logo and typeface

Logo Modernism P82-83 © TASCHEN

Jens Müller is fascinated by simple, reduced logos. The Düsseldorf-based graphic designer has been collecting these for some years, examining each one, delving into their past, discovering their origin and narrating their design history. As many as 6,000 have found their way into Logo Modernism to form somewhat of an encyclopaedia of icons of graphic design. The ‘Modernism’ side, says the author, is by sheer chance – Müller just happens to be drawn to symbols that adhere to the modernist philosophy. ‘One big thing about modernism is that it is, in a way, timeless,’ he says.

How we communicate through graphics is largely a continuation of ideas introduced by the modernist movement in the late 19th and early 20th-century. The thought process behind communication, its execution through graphic design, typography, logos, was one of the key areas explored by the pioneers of the movement. They sought to create clean visual concepts as a way of counterbalancing an increasingly complicated world with clarity. Müller breaks down the rules of modernist logos: they function in black and white, that they be simple enough to be able to be hand-drawn, and that they are based on geometric forms, including letters.

Logo Modernism P118-119 © TASCHENLogo Modernism focuses on the period 1940–1980 with examples ranging from media outfits to retail giants, airlines and art galleries. The sweeping survey is organised into three chapters: geometric, effect, and typographic with a further 20 style categories including dots, 3D, grid, and squares.

Müller feels that these logos are largely connected through their ‘attitude’ – an attitude, he says, towards simplicity and something that can be immediately recognised without a linguistic or cultural context. This is something that the designers at Spinach really identify with when working with new clients. For us, it is crucial that the logo is easily understood, relevant to the marque, and memorable.

Logo Modernism P62-63 © TASCHENLogo Modernism also features interesting designer profiles and instructive case studies, with a detailed look at the life and work of such luminaries as Paul Rand, Yusaku Kamekura, and Anton Stankowski, as well as projects such as Fiat, The Daiei, and the Mexico Olympic Games of 1968.

This is a wonderful resource for graphic designers, advertisers, and branding specialists, and is equally fascinating to anyone interested in social, cultural, and corporate history, and in the sheer persuasive power of image and form.

Logo Modernism, an unprecedented catalogue of modern trademarks is written by Jens Müller and R. Roger Remington and published by Taschen. Images are © Taschen

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Logo Modernism Cover © TASCHEN
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