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Contemporary Design & Designers Research

Ongoing research into inspiring, influential and contemporary design.


Bass was born in 1920 in New York City, to Jewish immigrants. A creative child, he drew constantly. For college, he attended night classes at the Art Students League where he had the fortune of studying under György Kepes, a master of the functional Bauhaus aesthetic.

In the 1940s, Bass left New York for California. He worked mostly for advertising until his first major break: a poster for the 1954 film, Carmen Jones. The filmmakers were so impressed by his poster work, they invited him to design the title credits as well. This turned out to be a game changing decision.


Saul Bass

Saul Bass might be the single most accomplished graphic designer in history. Working in the mid 20th century, when the importance of graphic design was just on the upswing, Bass branded a staggering array of major corporations with his iconic, minimal designs.


Bass stepped up the sophistication of movie posters with his distinctive minimal style and he completely revolutionized the role of title credits in films. Traditionally, credits were static and drab. They were considered so unimportant, they would actually be projected onto the closed curtains which would only open for the first official scene of the movie.

Bass, however, was committed to injecting life into these graphics, making them as much a part of the cinematic experience as anything else. Introducing his signature “kinetic type,” Bass’ letters dashed and moved across the screen and frequently incorporated images other than text.

Titles became a spectacle to be seen. Film reels with Bass credits were delivered to movie theaters along with a note: “projectionist – pull curtain before titles.”

Bass went on to create dozens of iconic film posters and title credits. His final projects before his death in 1996 were credits for four Martin Scorsese films: Goodfellas (1990), Cape Fear (1991), The Age of Innocence (1993) and Casino (1995).


Logos made to last.

The average lifespan of a Saul Bass logo is a whopping 34 years. Some of his work have yet to be replaced, like the absolutely brilliant designs for Kosé Cosmetics (1959), Kibun (1964), Warner Communications (1972), Girl Scouts (1978, with a slight modification made in 2010) and Geffen Records (1980). With designs as solid, thoughtful and timeless as these, they might never have to be.



Pentagram is a multi-disciplinary, independently owned design studio. It was founded in 1972, by Alan Fletcher, Theo Crosby, Colin Forbes, Kenneth Grange, and Mervyn Kurlansky at Needham Road, Notting Hill, London. The company has offices in London, New York City, San Francisco, Berlin and Austin, Texas. In addition to its influential work, the firm is known for its unusual structure, in which a hierarchically flat group of partners own and manage the firm, often working collaboratively, and share in profits and decisionmaking.

The work encompasses graphics and identity, strategy and positioning, products and packaging, exhibitions and installations, websites and digital experiences, advertising and communications, data visualizations and typefaces, sound and motion. Pentagram has 22 partners that are all practicing designers, and whether working collaboratively or independently, they do so in friendship.

The structure is unique. They are the only major design studio where the owners of the business are the creators of the work and serve as the primary contact for every client. This reflects the conviction that great design cannot happen without passion, intelligence and—above all—personal commitment, and is demonstrated by a portfolio that spans five decades, many industries, and clients of every size.

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Elliott Earls

Elliott Peter Earls (born 1966) is an American graphic designer, artist and one man band performance artist. He is an artist-in-residence and head of the graduate graphic design department at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.


Louise Fili

LOUISE FILI LTD is a graphic design studio that offers unique and elegant solutions to all things related to food, books, and culture, including brand strategy and development for restaurants and specialty food packaging.


Louise Fili, a connoisseur of Italian visual culture, is an internationally celebrated creative director, graphic designer, type designer, and author. Formerly senior designer for Herb Lubalin, Fili was art director of Pantheon Books from 1978 to 1989, where she designed close to 2,000 book jackets. She has received Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators and the New York Art Director's Club, the Premio Grafico from the Bologna Book Fair, and three James Beard award nominations. Fili has taught and lectured extensively, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Cooper Hewitt Museum, and the Bibliothèque Nationale. A member of the Art Directors Hall of Fame, she has also received the prestigious medals for Lifetime Achievement from the AIGA and the Type Directors Club, as well as the Frederic W. Goudy Award for Excellence in Typography. 

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 She began her career as an art director in the 1970s and early 80s, when her eclectic approach to typography became highly influential. In the mid-1990s her landmark identity for The Public Theater fused high and low into a wholly new symbology for cultural institutions, and her recent architectural collaborations have re-imagined the urban landscape as a dynamic environment of dimensional graphic design. Her graphic identities for Citibank and Tiffany & Co. have become case studies for the contemporary regeneration of American brands.

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Paula Scher

Paula Scher is an American graphic designer, painter and art educator in design. She also served as the first female principal at Pentagram, which she joined in 1991.


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Eric Gill 

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill, (22 February 1882 – 17 November 1940) was an English sculptor, letter cutter, typeface designer, and printmaker. Although the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes Gill as "the greatest artist-craftsman of the twentieth century: a letter-cutter and type designer of genius", he is also a figure of considerable controversy following revelations of his sexual abuse of two of his daughters.

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