Inspiration: Paul Rand

Poster based on Rand's cover for Direction magazine, 1939

Paul Rand is a little gap on my bookshelf. Princeton Architectural Press’ recent reprint of his 1985 monograph A Designer's Art (complete with obligatory afterword by Steven Heller) pretty much lives on my desk these days. Over 27 essays, he discusses a wide range of subjects still pertinent to design today, all accompanied by numerous examples of his work (more of which can be found at paul-rand.com). Demonstrating Rand's ability to simplify shape and colour and space into the most striking form, it's surprising how contemporary much of it seems – there are posters and covers and identities in here from seventy years ago that could've been made yesterday. One gripe: given Rand’s distinctive use of colour, it’s a shame that some of the images are black and white. Still, it's a stunning collection and offers a valuable education from one of design's greatest teachers; open it on any page and there's something that will spark inspiration. An essential read for designers, artists and everything in-between.

A Designer’s Art, 1985

Minute Man National Historic Park poster, 1974

Dada poster, 1951

The International Design Conference in Aspen poster, 1966

IBM poster, 1981

AIGA poster, 1968

Yale University School of Art poster, 1988

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition catalogue, 1970

Westinghouse Annual Report, 1974